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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Napoles dodges plunder rap, but guilty of 9 counts of direct bribery

Convicted plunderer Janet Lim Napoles was acquitted by the Sandiganbayan in a plunder case together with a former party-list lawmaker.

However, Napoles and former Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives (APEC) Rep. Edgar Valdez were convicted of nine counts of direct bribery.

Napoles was convicted in 2018 for plunder.

She is serving multiple sentences from earlier convictions for plunder and graft charges related to the pork barrel scam.

Napoles is also still facing a slew of plunder, graft, and other cases in connection with anomalies in the use of lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.

The anti-graft court meted out a fine of P26,996,700 to Napoles and Valdez as well as jail term of a minimum of two years and four months to up to six years and one day.

In the complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by the Ombudsman, Napoles was accused of plunder through the use of her bogus non-government organizations.

The NBI said the bogus NGOs were used to channel lawmakers’ pork barrel in exchange for kickbacks.

Valdez was accused of allegedly receiving P56 million in kickbacks.

The minimum threshold for the crime of plunder is P50 million.

Napoles and Valdez were acquitted 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,” according to the decision.

A 2016 ruling by the Fifth Division, which earlier allowed Valdez to post bail, said the prosecution only proved that the lawmaker received P2.6 million in kickbacks from a Napoles foundation.

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