APEC partylist representative in pork scam surrenders
MANILA, Philippines – Former partylist representative Edgar Valdez surrendered on Wednesday to the Sandiganbayan, which issued a warrant for his arrest over plunder, charges in connection with the pork barrel scam.
The antigraft court has found probable cause to try Valdez, who represented the Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives, or Apec, for the scam under the alleged scheme of Janet Lim-Napoles.
Valdez is accused of pocketing at least P57.787 million in kickbacks from alleged ghost projects funded through the congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) covering the years 2004 to 2010.
Principal whistleblower Benhur Luy said payoffs for Valdez, whose codename is “kuryente,” were made in the office of Napoles in Ortigas.
In its indictment, the Ombudsman said Valdez endorsed his PDAF funds to Napoles-controlled foundations, which were supposed to implement projects like livelihood programs, and the distribution of farm inputs and farm implements.
The Ombudsman said the funding and projects never went to the intended beneficiaries.
“(The) PDAF of Valdez was never used for the intended projects as these were considered ‘ghost’ projects, with fabricated documents submitted for its liquidation,” the Ombudsman said.
It added, “The mayors and municipal agriculturists reported that they never received anything from the office of Valdez, or from any of the project partners.”
“In fact, many of the names appearing on the lists as farmer-recipients were neither residents nor registered voters of the municipalities,” the Ombudsman noted.
Valdez’s lawyer Joel Ferrer said his client surrendered to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Tuesday.
He said Valdez may be detained at the Sandiganbayan detention cell because the Justices of the Fifth Division, which will hear the case, went on an out of town trip and cannot issue the commitment order detailing his place of detention.
Valdez, who looked downcast as he was brought to the Sheriff’s office, is suffering from high blood pressure and may need to be taken to the emergency room, Ferrer said. Valdez was later rushed to the Philippine Heart Center due to erratic blood pressure and sugar level.
He added that Valdez’s camp filed a motion for bail and for detention at the PNP Custodial Center, where the other pork scam accused Senators Ramon Revilla Jr and Jinggoy Estrada are detained.
According to Valdez’s petition for bail, the former lawmaker must be granted bail because the evidence of guilt is not strong. Plunder is a non-bailable offense.
“There is no risk or possibility of flight on the part of the accused, considering that he voluntarily surrendered to the custody of the law…” it added.
Valdez also filed a motion to be detained at the custodial center because of his diabetes and a lodged bullet in his spine.
Originally posted: 11:13 AM | Wednesday, February 25th, 2015
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