MANILA, Philippines – Anti-graft court Sandiganbayan on Monday, February 23, issued an arrest warrant against former Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives (APEC) Representative Edgar Valdez over the pork barrel scam.
Valdez was charged with plunder and 7 counts of graft for allegedly stealing up to P95 million ($2.14 million) worth of public funds through the illegal diversion of his discretionary Priority Development Fund (PDAF) to fake non-governmental organizations.
Plunder is a non-bailable offense punishable by life imprisonment.
Alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles and her driver-bodyguard, John Raymund de Asis, were also included in the arrest order. Napoles is presently detained in Bicutan, Taguig City, as co-accused in plunder charges against 3 senators, while De Asis is still at large.
In its indictment of Valdez, the Ombudsman said the party-list congressman’s PDAF went to ghost agricultural livelihood projects with fake recipients.
Valdez, who was referred to as “Kuryente” (electricity) in the financial records of state witness Benhur Luy, was also accused of fabricating his liquidation documents to show that the ghost projects had been implemented. (READ: PDAF kickbacks: Napoles had favorites)
Valdez is among the second batch of lawmakers charged with varying degrees of graft and corruption under the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam.
On Thursday, former Masbate representative and incumbent Governor Rizalina Seachon-Lanete surrendered to authorities hours after the Sandiganbayan ordered her arrest. (READ: Court ordrs Masbate gov detention in BJMP facility)
In 2014, Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr, Jinggoy Estrada, and Juan Ponce-Enrile also surrendered to authorities following the issuance of their arrest order. (READ: 3 PH senators charged with plunder over PDAF scam)
Dubbed as the biggest corruption scandal to hit the country in recent years, the pork barrel scam sparked public outrage that resulted in the abolition of the PDAF scheme and the declaration of lawmakers’ discretionary funds as unconstitutional. – Angela Casauay/Rappler.com
US$1 = P44.32
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