Ex-DOTC chief pleads not guilty to graft
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – Former Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza entered a not guilty plea to graft charges filed against him before the Sandiganbayan Monday morning.
The Sandiganbayan Fourth Division allowed lawyer Alex Poblador to sign the not guilty plea in behalf of Mendoza, who has yet to recover from a mild stroke.
Mendoza arrived at the Sandiganbayan on a wheelchair. He could not speak coherently and had to make a gesture informing the court that he was entering a not guilty plea.
The graft charges were in connection with the botched $329.48 million National Broadband Network (NBN) deal with Chinese telecommunications firm, ZTE Corp. Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo and former Commission on Elections chairman Benjamin Abalos were also accused in the graft case.
The Arroyo couple and Abalos had also pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Poblador said after the arraignment, Mendoza will continue with his therapy at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Global City, Taguig.
Mendoza posted a bail of P30,000.
Arroyo and Abalos are currently detained for a separate, non-bailable charge of electoral sabotage at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center and Southern Police District (SPD), respectively.
The former First Gentleman, on the other hand, is out on bail.
The pre-trial is set for June 4. – with a report from Doland Castro, ABS-CBN News; and Dennis Datu, dzMM