Ex-Agusan del Sur solon pleads not guilty to pork barrel scam raps
Former Agusan del Sur Rep. Rodolfo Plaza pleaded not guilty to the malversation and graft charges against him for his alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.
Plaza pleaded not guilty during his arraignment before the anti-graft court Second Division on Wednesday.
The former solon faces five counts of malversation, five counts of graft, and two counts of direct bribery.
Plaza is accused of receiving P42.1 million in kickbacks from his Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) projects from 2004 to 2010 under the scheme of accused mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, with payoffs taking place in Napoles’ house in Alabang Hills or at Napoles’ office in Ortigas.
Meanwhile, Plaza’s co-accused aide Jasper Kapunan refused to enter a plea. The court thus entered a not guilty plea.
Plaza is part of the second batch of PDAF-scam tainted lawmakers facing charges for purportedly pillaging public funds through ghost projects using Napoles’ bogus foundations.
Napoles also pleaded not guilty to the charges. Besides Plaza’s case, Napoles is also a co-accused in the pork barrel scam charges of three senators and four former representatives.
Meanwhile, Plaza’s eight co-accused were not arraigned on Wednesday because they are at large: National Agri-Business Corp. (Nabcor) president Alan Javellana, bookkeeper Maria Ninez Guañizo, chief accountant Ma. Julie Villaralvo-Johnson, and director for financial management services Rhodora Mendoza; Napoles’ employees John Raymund De Asis and Nitz Cabilao; Napoles’ househelper Renato Ornopia; and Napoles’ driver Eulogio Rodriguez.
Besides Plaza, former Masbate Rep. Rizalina Seachon-Lañete and APEC party-list Rep. Edgar Valdez face plunder, while former Benguet Rep. Samuel Dangwa and Cagayan De Oro Rep. Constantino Jaraula face malversation.
The antigraft court is also hearing the plunder cases of detained senators Ramon Revilla Jr., Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile. Estrada and Revilla are detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center, while the ailing Enrile, who was under hospital arrest, is out on bail. Lañete and Valdez, meanwhile, are detained at the Camp Bagong Diwa.
Of the accused, only the 91-year-old Enrile has been allowed to post bail by the Supreme Court.
Accused mastermind Napoles also faces multiple counts of plunder, malversation and graft. She was sentenced to life in prison for the serious illegal detention of principal whistleblower Benhur Luy.
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