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Ex-lawmaker refuses to enter plea in plunder case

MANILA, Philippines - Former Association of Philippine Electrical Cooperatives (APEC) Representative Edgar Valdez refused to enter a plea during his arraignment Monday, March 9, for plunder and graft charges in connection with the pork barrel scam.  

The Sandiganbayan 5th Division entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.

His co-accused, Janet Lim Napoles, alleged mastermind of the multi-billion-peso scam, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The former APEC representative faces plunder charges and 7 counts of graft for allegedly stealing up to P95 million ($2.14 million) in public funds through the alleged illegal diversion of his Priority Development Fund (PDAF) to fake non-governmental organizations run by Napoles.

Three senators and another former member of the House of Representatives are also facing plunder and graft charges for the same scam.

Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon "Bong" Revilla are presently detained at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame while Senator Juan Ponce-Enrile is under hospital arrest. Enrile was transferred to the Makati Medical Center from the PNP General Hospital after suffering from pneumonia. 

Valdez, along with Napoles, former Masbate representative and incumbent Masbate Governor Rizalina Seachon-Lanete are detained in Camp Bagong Diwa. – Rappler