Gigi Reyes refuses to enter plea in plunder case

By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 18 2014 11:41 AM | Updated as of Jul 18 2014 11:26 PM

MANILA – Gigi Reyes, the former chief of staff of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, refused to enter a plea on her plunder case in connection with the pork barrel scam during her arraignment at the Sandiganbayan on Friday.

"I am not entering a plea," Reyes told the court.

The anti-graft court's third division, chaired by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, entered a not guilty plea for Reyes instead.

Reyes' lawyer Anacleto Diaz said his client was still "weak" and "pale" but insisted on standing up to address the court.

"She insisted on standing up because sabi niya she wanted to do this with dignity. So she didn't want to sit down. Against our advice, she stood throughout the arraignment," Diaz told reporters.

After the hearing, Reyes' companions were seen patting her back. A medical doctor checked her blood pressure. A wheelchair was brought in but Reyes declined to use it, wishing to maintain her dignity, according to Diaz.

Enrile, who is accused of amassing P172 million in pork barrel kickbacks, is facing one count of plunder and 15 counts of graft. His co-respondents in the plunder case are Reyes, alleged pork barrel scam brains Janet Lim Napoles, Ronald John Lim and John Raymund de Asis.

Reyes failed to attend her arraignment last week after she was hospitalized.

The Sandiganbayan earlier ordered Reyes' transfer to the Camp Bagong Diwa. But she was rushed to the Taguig-Pateros District Hospital hours after arriving there supposedly due to anxiety attacks.

The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology then decided to transfer her to the Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City after she complained of chest pains. She was brought back to Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan last Monday.

Meanwhile, the arraignment of Enrile, Reyes, and their other co-accused in the graft charges filed by the Office of the Ombudsman has been moved to July 25.

The court set the dates for the preliminary conference on July 25 and August 1.

Two other senators, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla, are also detained for their alleged links to the P10 billion pork barrel scam. – with a report from Johnson Manabat, dzMM