MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan’s third division entered a “not guilty” plea for Senator Juan Ponce Enrile on Friday, July 11, in relation to his plunder case.
His co-accused and former chief of staff Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes did not appear in court. She was reportedly not cleared for discharge by the Taguig-Pateros District Hospital, where she has been confined since Thursday due to a panic attack and hypertension.
“I enter no plea, your honor. And I would like my counsel to explain,” Enrile told the court.
His lawyer, Estelito “Titong” Mendoza, then cited the court’s denial of Enrile’s omnibus motion to dismiss the charges against him. He also cited the court’s denial of his motion for a bill of particulars, which, he explained, would have enabled Enrile to properly plead.
The lawyer said the court has not acquired jurisdiction over the accused and his cases, as the Enrile camp is assailing the sufficiency and validity of the charge sheets against him in the first place.
Enrile’s camp is set to file a petition before the Supreme Court to have the charge sheets quashed.
Watch this report below.
Fit for arraignment
While he cited health concerns in his motion to defer arraignment filed Thursday, July 10, Enrile told the court during the Friday hearing that his concern was mainly the insufficiency of the Information filed against him.
“You cannot send an innocent person to jail,” he said, adding that the vague Information does not give him enough details “to defend himself.”
“Physically, I’m prepared to be arraigned,” he said.
Asked by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang if Enrile was medically fit for arraignment, a doctor from the Philippine National Police General Hospital attested that he is. His blood pressure was at 160/70 during the hearing.
Bill of particulars
A bill of particulars would clarify and specify in detail the charges against Enrile.
Mendoza earlier told the court that the charge sheet against Enrile was “lacking in details.” Hence, he said, Enrile is “not in a position to plead to the information.”
“Notably, the ultimate acts and circumstances alleged in the Information for both Plunder and Anti-graft cases are almost the same,” the motion read.
But the prosecutors opposed Enrile’s motion, which was heard prior to his arraignment.
In a July 8 hearing, Mendoza manifested before the court that he will be filing a motion for a bill of particulars.
Even Justice Samuel Martires said the prosecution “is giving us a hard time” in going through the stacks of documents, which were not tabulated.
“We’re still at a loss on what the charges are,” said another Enrile lawyer, Eleazar Reyes.
Enrile arrived at the Sandiganbayan at about 8 am Friday for his arraignment. His other co-accused and alleged mastermind Janet Lim Napoles entered a “not guilty” plea. – Rappler.com