MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Suspended Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and co-accused businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles pleaded not guilty to graft charges in connection with the pork barrel scam on Friday, September 5.
Enrile’s former chief of staff, lawyer Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, refused to enter plea, prompting the antigraft court Sandiganbayan’s Third Division to enter a not guilty plea on her behalf.
“I have not committed any crime,” said Enrile, after entering his not guilty plea.
Enrile faces 15 counts of graft and one count of plunder for allegedly allowing the use of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) for ghost projects of the nongovernmental organizations of Napoles, the alleged pork scam mastermind, in exchange for hefty commissions.
He allegedly pocketted P172 million ($3.9 million*) in public funds from the scam.
Reyes and Enrile were seen sitting beside each other in the courtroom – the first time they were seen together since Reyes left the country last year following the pork scam exposé that linked them to the biggest corruption scandal in recent Philippine history.
DZMM reported that two were allowed to sit at the table reserved for defense lawyers, since they are both lawyers anyway, and in consideration of their medical condition. They were seen greeting and briefly talking to each other.
Enrile’s other co-accused were also arraigned that day, including Dennis Cunanan, on-leave director of the Technology Resource Center, who entered a not guilty plea.
Reyes allowed brain scan
The Sandibanbayan's 3rd division also allowed Reyes to undergo a brain scan – at her expense – at the Philippine General Hospital, and not at the Makati Medical Center as she had earlier requested.
Reyes had asked the court to allow her to undergo a brain scan at the MMC after she hit her head against the wall of her detention cell.
The accident was caused by an anxiety attack on August 5, she said in her motion, and since then, she had reportedly experienced intermittent spasms in her right eyelid and cheek, and a noticeable progressive slur in her speech. – Rappler.com