Senator Juan Ponce Enrile emerges from the Sandiganbayan after his arraignment on graft and plunder charges. FILE/Photo by Jonathan Cellona for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA (1st UPDATE) – Suspended Senator Juan Ponce Enrile entered a not guilty plea in the 15 counts of graft against him in connection with the pork barrel scam.
''I have not committed any crime,'' Enrile said as he entered his plea.
Enrile, accused of pocketing about P172 million in pork barrel, is facing one count of plunder and 15 counts of graft before the Sandiganbayan's Third Division.
The 90-year-old legislator earlier refused to enter a plea on the plunder case against him. As a matter of procedure, the anti-graft court entered a not guilty plea for him.
His co-accused, businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, entered a not guilty plea.
Napoles, accused of setting up fake non-government organizations to pocket lawmakers' pork barrel funds, had also entered a not guilty plea on the plunder case against her.
Enrile's former chief of staff and alleged paramour, Gigi Reyes, also attended the arraignment at the anti-graft court today. However, like what she did during her arraignment on plunder, sherefused to enter a plea on the graft raps.
Today's arraignment also marks the first time that Enrile and Reyes met since the latter left the country when the pork barrel scam erupted. Enrile and Reyes were seen seated beside each other inside the courtroom.
Before the arraignment started, Enrile refused to sit beside Reyes in the area reserved for the accused and their lawyers. Enrile opted to sit in the prosecution panel's area.
During the arraignment, however, Enrile and Reyes ended up being seated beside each other when the court allowed them and Napoles to sit in the area reserved for the defense lawyers because of their medical conditions.
At least 15 others who are also accused in the graft cases in connection with the pork barrel scam were also arraigned. Among them is Technology Resource Center on-leave director Dennis Cunanan, who pleaded not guilty.
The other co-respondents of Enrile, Napoles and Reyes in the plunder case are Ronald John Lim, Napoles' nephew, and John Raymund de Asis, the businesswoman's aide. – reports from Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News; and Johnson Manabat, dzMM.