Napoles, ex-Rep Valdez each fined P27M, sentenced to up to 6 yrs for each of 9 counts
The Sandiganbayan on Monday acquitted “pork barrel scam queen” Janet Lim Napoles and a former lawmaker of plunder over the misuse of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) but convicted them of other crimes instead.
The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division convicted Napoles of 9 counts of corruption of a public official while former Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives (APEC) Party-List Rep. Edgar Valdez was also found guilty of 9 counts of direct bribery, based on the dispositive portion of the decision shown to ABS-CBN News.
Each of them is sentenced to between 2 years and 4 months, to up to 6 years and 1 day in jail for each count, and ordered to pay a fine of P26,996,700.
Valdez was among 5 lawmakers whom the National Bureau of Investigation, and later on, the Office of the Ombudsman, accused of plunder for using Napoles’ bogus NGOs to receive pork barrel funds in exchange for kickbacks.
Valdez supposedly received P56 million in kickbacks, which is above the P50-million threshold for the crime of plunder.
But in acquitting Napoles and Valdez of plunder, the anti-graft court said the evidence was lacking.
“[T]he Court finds accused Edgar De Leon Valdez and Janet Lim Napoles [are] not guilty of plunder due to insufficient evidence proving that they had, through conspiracy, amassed, accumulated and or acquired at least 50 million pesos of PDAF funds through kickbacks and or commissions,” read a portion of the decision.
A full copy of the ruling is not yet available online because the Sandiganbayan website is down as of writing.
But a 2016 ruling by the Fifth Division, which allowed Valdez to post bail, said the prosecution only proved that Valdez received P2.6 million kickbacks from a Napoles foundation.
In July and August this year, the same division denied Napoles' request for the court to accept her belatedly-filed memorandum that cited whistleblower Benhur Luy’s testimony in a separate graft case where he supposedly admitted that the funds in this case did not come from PDAF.
The 108-page Sandiganbayan decision was per curiam, meaning, not one justice from the anti-graft court’s Fifth Division penned the ruling.
It was signed by Associate Justice Rafael Lagos, the chair of the Division, and by associate justices Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega and Maryann Corpus-Mañalac.
Valdez was in court Monday morning while Napoles attended through videoconference.
Napoles is currently serving several sentences while Valdez is out on bail.
Valdez’s lawyer asked and the anti-graft court granted the request that he be allowed to continue his bail bond.
A third accused, John Raymund De Asis of the Kaupdanan Para sa Mangunguma Foundation, Inc., has remained at large and the case against him was declared “archived.”
They are still facing other graft charges before the Fifth Division.
OTHER PLUNDER CHARGES
The other lawmakers accused of plunder in relation to the pork barrel scam were: then-senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon Revilla, Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada and then-Rep. Rizalina Seachon-Lanete.
Revilla was acquitted in 2018 while the other plunder cases are still pending before the Sandiganbayan.
Enrile, Estrada and Seachon-Lanete were all allowed to post bail.