MANILA – The Sandiganbayan Third Division on Friday entered a not guilty plea for Senator Juan Ponce Enrile after he refused to plead during his arraignment for plunder this morning.
The court also dismissed the 90-year-old senator's motion for a Bill of Particulars, saying it was a mere reiteration of an earlier supplemental motion that the anti-graft court had already junked.
Enrile's camp said the Bill of Particulars, which would specify the accusations against the senator, would have helped it prepare for the trial.
After Enrile's doctors told the court that the arraignment will not put the senator's health at risk, the arraignment proceeded.
Meanwhile, Enrile's co-accused in the plunder charge, alleged pork barrel scam brains Janet Lim Napoles, entered a not guilty plea.
Napoles, accused of creating fake non-government organizations in order to pocket pork barrel funds, is also facing two counts of plunder and 27 counts of graft in the cases of Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr.
Enrile and Napoles' co-accused , lawyer Gigi Reyes, failed to attend the arraignment after she was hospitalized Thursday. Her lawyer, Anacleto Diaz, presented to the court a medical certificate from the Taguig-Pateros District Hospital.
Reyes, Enrile's former chief of staff and alleged paramour, was rushed to a hospital in Taguig early Thursday after suffering an anxiety attack while detained at Camp Bagong Diwa.
Director Prudencio Sta. Lucia of Taguig-Pateros District Hospital said Reyes became hysterical and her blood pressure shot up, prompting her relatives to bring her to hospital at around 1 a.m. yesterday.
Two other co-accused, Ronald John Lim and Raymund de Asis, also failed to attend today's arraignment as they remain at large.
Enrile, accused of pocketing about P172 million in pork barrel, is facing one count of plunder and 15 counts of graft.
Meanwhile, the arraignment for Enrile and his co-accused for the graft charges was deferred by the anti-graft court after the prosecution panel manifested a motion to amend Information. – report from Johnson Manabat, dzMM