MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A Philippine anti-graft court has entered a not guilty plea for the second of three prominent senators arraigned in the country’s biggest corruption trial in more than a decade.
Senator Jinggoy Estrada, son of a former president, refused to enter a plea when he was arraigned Monday for plunder, prompting the court to enter a plea for him. He is accused of pocketing 172 million pesos ($3.94 million) in kickbacks from a scam that diverted millions of dollars form anti-poverty and development funds allotted to lawmakers’ pet projects.
The prosecutions bolster President Benigno Aquino III’s campaign to fight corruption that has plagued the nation for decades. The problem has festered amid a culture of impunity among powerful politicians and their allies, weak law enforcement and a notoriously slow justice system.