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Former party-list rep indicted for plunder

MANILA, Philippines – A plunder case is set to be filed against former APEC party-list Representative Edgar Valdez in relation to the massive misuse of lawmakers' Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), making him the first party-list representative to be indicted over the scam.

In an October 13 resolution announced Friday, October 17, the Ombudsman found probable cause to charge Valdez of plunder and 7 counts of graft for the alleged pocketing of over P57.78 million ($1.28 million)* in PDAF and the misuse of PDAF totaling P95 million ($2.11 million)*.

Charged with plunder along with Valdez is alleged PDAF scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles – making this her 5th plunder case. This is all in relation to the alleged ploy to divert PDAF to ghost projects of her dummy non-governmental organizations (NGOs). (READ: More lawmakers to be charged over PDAF scam)

Napoles' driver-bodyguard, John Raymund de Asis, who is still at large, is likewise co-accused in the plunder case. Plunder is typically a non-bailable offense punishable by reclusion perpetua

Valdez was given the code name "kuryente" (electricity) – an obvious allusion to his party-list group – in the financial records of Napoles' former financial officer now turned state witness, Benhur Luy. 

Valdez' party-list APEC stands for the Association of Philippine Electric Cooperative. The party-list system is meant to better represent marginalized sectors and groups lacking "well-defined constituencies."

Based on Luy's ledger, Valdez was paid a total of P57.78 million ($1.28 million)* in PDAF from 2004 to 2010. The payment was in exchange for his endorsement of Napoles' NGOs as recipients of his PDAF.

Liquidation documents were supposedly fabricated to feign implementation of the NGOs' agricultural livelihood programs meant for poor rural farmers.

The 3 can still appeal the Ombudsman's findings. The case is headed to the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan in the absence of their appeal within the prescribed period or when the Ombudsman junks their motions for reconsideration.

Valdez' indictment marks the Ombudsman's complete resolution of the first batch of criminal complaints filed by the National Bureau of Investigation and the Ombudsman Field Investigation Office over the PDAF scam.

The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) was also copy-furnished with the resolution indicting Valdez for further investigation into violations related to money laundering, which covers plunder and graft as predicate crimes.

The PDAF scam, which saw 3 senators detained after their cases were filed in court, rocked the country in late 2013 with Napoles at the center of the scandal. (READ: Pork tales: A story of corruption)

Graft charges

Subject of Valdez' 7 graft cases are the 7 Special Allotment Release Orders (SAROs) released to the following NGOs: Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation Inc (SDPFFI), Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc(MAMFI), and the Philippine Social Development Foundation Incorporated (PSDFI).

Along with Valdez, Napoles, and De Asis, the following are indicted for 7 counts of graft:

– Rappler.com

*$1 = P44.93