Court enters not guilty plea for Jinggoy

Posted at 06/30/14 9:46 AM

MANILA - The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division entered a not guilty plea for Senator Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada after he refused to enter any plea during his arraignment today in connection with plunder and graft cases.

Justice Roland Jurado entered a "not guilty plea" for Estrada.

His lawyer, Atty. Joel Bodegon, said his client refuses to enter any plea because of the two cases still pending he filed before the Supreme Court.

On the other hand, his co-accused, alleged pork scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles, pleaded "not guilty" to the case.

Estrada faces one count of plunder and 11 counts of graft for allegedly receiving P183 million in pork barrel kickbacks from 2004 to 2012. He is currently detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame.

Ombudsman prosecutors earlier sought to rephrase information in the plunder case against Estrada and Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr.

The prosecutors wanted to insert the words "collecting (kickbacks) directly or indirectly (from businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles)” in the charges against the senators.

Originally, it was worded in such a way that the three senators only “received” kickbacks from Napoles.

Defense lawyers said this only emphasizes the alleged crime of Napoles, not the senators. They said that if Napoles were the only one who profited from the pork barrel transactions, there would be no plunder by the senators.

The prosecution also moved to add the phrase, "by exerting undue pressure on the implementing agencies to favorably act on his endorsement of the NGOs of Napoles to ensure that his [Priority Development Assistance Fund] be in the possession and control of Napoles and her cohorts which undue pressure and endorsement, were in exchange of kickbacks percentage or commissions, thereby unjustly enriching himself,” to the charges against the senators.

The prosecutors, however, withdrew its motion to amend the plunder complaint against Estrada after the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division warned it could lead to the release of the accused from detention.