Sandiganbayan junks gov’t bid to re-arrest solon for plunder
MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan has denied a motion to re-arrest former Apec party-list representative Edgar Valdez, while the court is hearing his P57-million plunder case in connection with the pork barrel fund.
In a resolution dated January 9, the anti-graft court’s Fifth Division through Associate Justice Theresa Mendoza Arcega denied the motion of government prosecutors to have Valdez re-arrested, noting that he “religiously attended” the proceedings of his case even if he was granted bail.
“Going to the substantive issues, Valdez correctly pointed out that there is no basis to recall the grant of bail,” the court stated.
“After accused Valdez posted bail, he religiously attended the proceedings of the instant case,” it added.
Valdez was among the elected officials indicted for plunder in connection with the so-called pork barrel scam allegedly masterminded by Janet Lim Napoles.
The official was accused of pocketing P57.78 million worth of kickbacks for allocating part of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to bogus non-government organizations owned by Napoles. Both claimed that state lawyers failed to establish that the amount involved in the case went over P50 million — which is the main criteria for plunder cases.
The Sandiganbayan however denied Valdez and Napoles’ demurrers to evidence last September 2018, saying the prosecution was able to establish the validity of the plunder charges. A demurrer to evidence is a document contesting the validity of the evidence presented.
The court further said the Office of the Ombudsman’s fact-finding team presented sufficient evidence to show that Napoles and Valdez amassed ill-gotten wealth in the process.
Napoles also tried to persuade the court to dismiss the case as the Information did not specify who the “main plunderer” was — similar to her claims in other graft and plunder cases she is facing.
However, Sandiganbayan noted that there was no need to pinpoint the main plunderer as it is automatically the government official involved.