MANILA, Philippines –  Former Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) chief Zenaida Ducut and alleged pork barrel fund scam brains Janet Lim-Napoles yesterday pleaded not guilty to charges of graft and malversation before the Sandiganbayan.

Accompanied by their lawyers, Ducut and Napoles entered the plea during their arraignment before the anti-graft court’s Third Division.

Their co-accused, former Davao del Sur congressman Marc Douglas Cagas IV, did not attend the proceeding.

The Sandiganbayan has yet to resolve Cagas’ petition to dismiss the charges against him.

The anti-graft court moved the arraignment of Cagas to July 12, with the pre-trial set on Oct. 18.

Nine other defendants also pleaded not guilty. They were former Technology Resource Center officials Dennis Cunanan, Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana, Francisco Figura, Consuelo Lilian Espiritu and Marivic Jover; former budget undersecretary Mario Relampagos; former budget and management specialist Rosario Nuñez, and former administrative assistants Marilou Bare and Lalaine Paule.

The Office of the Ombudsman filed a complaint for graft against Ducut, Cagas and Napoles last year for their alleged involvement in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) anomaly.

Ducut was indicted for allegedly acting as a bagwoman for Cagas, who supposedly received kickbacks from bogus non-government organizations linked to Napoles that implemented fictitious projects.

Cagas is accused of misappropriating P11 million in PDAF funds from 2007 to 2009. He allegedly received at least P5.5 million in kickbacks.

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