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A whistleblower on Tuesday testified that former Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives (APEC) party-list Representative Edgar Valdez personally received kickbacks from alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
"Nakikita ko po personally na pumupunta si Congressman Valdez sa opisina ng JLN Corporation sa Discovery Center," whistleblower Marina Sula told the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division.
The Fifth Division was hearing Valdez's petition to post bail for his plunder case in connection with the pork barrel scam.
When asked further by prosecution lawyer Jennifer Agustin-Se on what may be the reason Valdez used to visit Napoles in her office at JLN Corporation located at Discovery Center in Ortigas, Pasig City, Sula replied: "Kapag meron na po siyang mga dinadalang mga dokumento at kapag kumukuha ng rebates."
Sula said the documents personally turned over by Valdez to Napoles included endorsement letters which stated that he was endorsing the non-government organizations (NGOs) allegedly owned by Napoles as partners in the implementation of projects to be funded by his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) also known as pork barrel.
The Office of the Ombudsman, in the filing of cases against various personalities, earlier maintained that these Napoles-linked NGOs were fake and that the projects supposed to have been funded by the PDAF of several lawmakers were never implemented.
Sula said she personally made photocopies of these endorsement letters from Valdez as part of her job as JLN Corporation's property custodian and as president of one of Napoles' NGOs, the Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation, Inc. (MAMFI).
"May pagkakataon din po na sinasabi sa 'kin ni Madam Janet Napoles na nakakuha na siya ng PDAF from Valdez," Sula said.
Sula said that Valdez received rebates or kickbacks from Napoles in exchange for the allocation of his PDAF to the businesswoman's fake NGOs.
"Naririnig ko po si Madam (na) sinasabihan si Benhur (Luy), 'Ben, prepare the money. Nandito si Congressman Valdez,'" Sula said.
Sula added there were several instances when she saw Luy taking out cash from a vault and placing it in a red paper bag with a JLN Corp. logo when Valdez was at the JLN Corp. office.
"Nakikita ko po si Benhur taking out the money from a vault at nilalagay po niya sa red paper bag with JLN Corporation logo or minsan po sa ordinary paper bag or brown envelope lang... Then dadalhin na po niya sa opisina ni Madam Janet Napoles," Sula told the court.
Luy is the second cousin of Napoles and also used to be an employee of the latter before they had a falling-out and the former became the primary state witness in the pork scam cases.
When asked who personally gave Valdez his alleged kickbacks, Sula said: "Si Madam Janet Napoles po."
When asked if she was sure that Valdez received the money that Luy allegedly prepared as the lawmaker's kickbacks, Sula replied in the affirmative.
"Opo. Kasi po kapag pumupunta siya sa office, wala naman po siyang dala. Pero paglabas po niya, meron na po siyang bitbit na paper bag," Sula said.
Sula said she can no longer remember how many times Valdez went to the JLN Corporation office but the visits occurred from 2004 to 2007 or 2008, during the latter's incumbency as congressman.
"Hindi ko na po matandaan pero maraming beses po. Hindi ko na po mabilang," Sula said.
Asked for a reaction after the hearing, Valdez categorically denied visiting JLN Corporation office. He also denied receiving kickbacks from the pork scam.
"This (Sula's testimony) is a totally different story. She has executed probably five sworn statements with the NBI and the Office of the Ombudsman and she hasn't mentioned anything like that. She is making up story now," Valdez, who is a lawyer, said.
Aside from his legal counsels, Valdez is lawyering for his own case.
Though he admitted that he personally knows Napoles, Valdez said he never received any commission from the businesswoman nor visited her in her JLN Corp. office.
"Yes, I know her. Pero 'yung sinasabi niya na pumupunta ako sa opisina nila or that I am attending Napoles' parties or whatever celebrations, kwento na lang ito. She is trying to make up stories," Valdez said.
Valdez is facing plunder and seven counts of graft for allegedly pocketing P57.78 million worth of kickbacks for funneling his PDAF from 2004 to 2010 to the Napoles-linked NGOs.
He is currently detained at the BJMP detention facility in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City. —KG, GMA News