No recall of bail for Valdez in PDAF plunder case: Sandigan

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    THE Sandiganbayan has denied the prosecution’s motion seeking recall of bail granted to former party-list Rep. Edgar Valdez even after the anti-graft court threw out his demurrer to evidence last August 28.

    In a nine-page resolution dated January 9, 2020 penned by Associate Justice Maria Theresa V. Mendoza-Arcega, the Fifth Division sustained the defendant’s argument that there is no basis for the issuance of an arrest warrant against him.

    Associate Justices Rafael R. Lagos and Maryann E. Corpus-Mañalac concurred.

    Valdez, former congressman for party-list Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives (PL-APEC), is charged with plunder for allegedly receiving P57,787,500 as “commissions and kickbacks” in exchange for funneling his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations into bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) created by his co-accused, businesswoman Janet Napoles.

    The Napoles NGOs were identified as the Masaganang Ani para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. (MAMFI), Philippine Social Development Foundation Inc. (PSDFI), and Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation Inc. (SDPFFI).

    In its August 29, 2019 resolution, the Sandiganbayan held that the case “is replete with evidence that would warrant a conviction if not rebutted by the defense.” Motions for reconsideration filed by Valdez and Napoles were also denied in a resolution issued November 13, 2019.

    Citing these two rulings, the prosecution argued that Valdez should be thrown back to jail and his bail invalidated on the basis of the court’s finding that the evidence of his guilt is strong.

    Valdez opposed the motion, arguing the denial of his demurrer to evidence was merely couched on a preliminary examination of the merits of the prosecution’s allegations and is not a pronouncement on his guilt or innocence.

    He likewise claimed that he cannot be considered a flight risk.

    “Upon a meticulous scrutiny of the records and a deliberate consideration of the arguments of the parties, the Court finds the instant motion bereft of merit. Valdez correctly pointed out that there is no basis to recall the grant of bail,” the court declared.

    It noted that even after being allowed to post bail and being released from detention, Valdez has “religiously attended the proceedings.”

    Likewise denied was the issuance of a warrant of arrest for Napoles who is already in jail after her conviction on a separate plunder charge in December 2018.

    While Napoles is still seeking reversal of the guilty verdict, she is being held at the Correctional Institution for Women to serve a sentence for reclusion perpetua.