Enrile pleads not guilty to graft

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Friday, September 5, 2014

MANILA. Detained Senate Minority Floor Leader Juan Ponce Enrile pleaded not guilty to 15 counts of graft charges during his arraignment at the Sandiganbayan third division on Friday. (Al Padilla/Sunnex)

MANILA (Updated) -- Detained Senate Minority Floor Leader Juan Ponce Enrile pleaded not guilty to 15 counts of graft charges in connection with his alleged involvement in the multi-billion peso pork barrel scam.

In his arraignment at the Sandiganbayan third division on Friday, Enrile maintained his innocence, saying, "I did not commit any crime."

"I plead not guilty, your honors," Enrile told the court.

Enrile's co-accused, Technology Resource Center director general on-leave Dennis Cunanan and businesswoman Janet Napoles, the scam's alleged mastermind, entered a not guilty plea on same charges.

Meanwhile, the third division has entered a not guilty plea for Enrile's former chief-of-staff, Jessica Lucila "Gigi" Reyes, after she refused to enter any plea on her graft cases.

Aside from 15 counts of graft, Enrile and Reyes face plunder charges for allegedly amassing P172.8 million in kickbacks from 2004 to 2010 by diverting the Priority Development Assistance Fund allotment of the senator to fake non-government organizations controlled by Napoles.

Other co-accused in the graft cases were Enrile's staff Jose Antonio Evangelista and officials of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and other implementing agencies that allegedly conspired with the senator in realigning government funds to the bogus NGOs.

On Thursday, a team of medical doctors from the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) tasked to examine the health of the senior lawmaker recommended to the anti-graft court that Enrile should remain under hospital arrest due to his vulnerable health condition.

Doctors John Añonuevo, Leonora Fernandez and Maria Florentina Fajardo-Gomez of PGH have recommended the transfer of the 91-year-old senator who is suffering from various illnesses to a tertiary hospital.

They noted that the senior legislator is vulnerable to stroke and heart attack due to his irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, and hardening of the arteries due to high calcium deposits.

The doctors added that Enrile should remain in the hospital instead of an ordinary jail since he had asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, which may lead to pneumonia.

The anti-graft court earlier ordered the PGH to conduct series of medical tests on the veteran lawmaker to serve as basis for its judgment on the Enrile's motion for hospital arrest.

Enrile is currently detained at the Philippine Nation Police General Hospital in Camp Crame, Quezon City. (Sunnex)

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