THE COUNTRY’S anti-graft court has rejected separate pleas to dismiss plunder cases against a former congressman and a businesswoman accused of masterminding the so-called pork barrel scam.

The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division denied the pleadings filed by former Party-list Rep. Edgar L. Valdez and Janet Lim-Napoles, according to a copy of the 34-page resolution issued by the court on Aug. 28. It said there is sufficient evidence that the two were involved in the scam.

“Valdez and Napoles hypothesize in their respective demurrers that the jurisdictional amount of P50 million for the crime of plunder to prosper was not established by the prosecution,” the court said. “The arguments are unpersuasive.”

The Sandiganbayan found evidence showing that Mr. Valdez had pocketed at least P50 million from his priority development assistance funds.

The program, which allowed legislators to fund small-scale projects that fell outside the national infrastructure program, was voided by the Supreme Court in 2013 for being illegal.

“A scrutiny of the records demonstrates that there is sufficient evidence showing that Valdez accumulated more than the amount of ₱50 million from his PDAF funded projects from 2004 to 2010,” the court said.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to the piles of evidence proffered by the prosecution,” the court said. “Above and beyond, herein accused still have their day in court to present evidence in their defense.”

The court set the defense’s initial presentation of evidence for Sept. 12. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras