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MANILA, Philippines – Janet Lim Napoles is facing additional years in prison after the Sandiganbayan convicted her of corruption of a public official, the latest in cases related to the misuse of lawmakers’ multi-million pork barrel or the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
The anti-graft court, in a decision made public on Monday, October 2, found Napoles “guilty beyond reasonable doubt” of nine counts of corruption of a public official, sentencing her to two years and four months to six years and one day in prison for each count.
This is not Napoles’ first conviction, as she is already serving several prison sentences. In July 2023, the Sandiganbayan found her and several others guilty of graft and malversation of public funds in relation to the PDAF scam, sentencing her to a total of 70 years, 5 months, and 13 days in prison.
Aside from Napoles, former Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives (APEC) party-list representative Edgar Valdez was also found guilty of nine counts of direct bribery and was meted with the same prison sentence, as well as special temporary disqualification from public office.
Napoles and Valdez are also ordered to pay a fine of P27 million each.
While Napoles and Valdez were found guilty of different violations, the two were however acquitted of plunder, a non-bailable offense punishable by life imprisonment.
“The Court finds [Valdesz and Napoles] 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,” the Sandiganbayan said.
A co-accused, Napoles’ bodyguard and driver John Raymund de Asis, remains at large. The court declared the case against him as archived.
The decision was signed by Sandigabayan associate justices Rafael Lagos, Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega, and Maryann Corpus-Mañalac.
Valdez was first ordered arrested by the Sandiganbayan in 2015 after he was charged with plunder and seven counts of graft for allegedly pocketing almost P95 million worth of public funds.
This was made possible by diverting them to non-existing non-governmental organizations through an intricate system overseen by Napoles and led to the biggest corruption scandal in recent Philippine history. – Rappler.com