Former Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Chairperson Zenaida Ducut on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to graft and malversation charges filed at the Sandiganbayan’s Seventh Division in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel scam.
Ducut is among the several co-accused of former Muntinlupa Rep. Rozzano Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon.
Aside from her, the other respondents who also entered a plea of not guilty during yesterday’s arraignment include former Technology Resource Center (TRC) Deputy Director General Dennis Cunanan, then-TRC employee Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana, and private individual Evelyn De Leon.
The Office of the Ombudsman earlier filed charges against Biazon and several others, alleging that he endorsed the non-government organization (NGO) Philippine Social Development Foundation Inc. (PSDFI) as project partner in implementing a livelihood project for barangays in Muntinlupa funded by his PDAF worth P3 million in 2007 but the project turned out to be non-existent.
Biazon has categorically denied having received any kickbacks from transactions entered into by any government agency with NGOs supposedly run by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
The defense pointed out that pork scam witness Benhur Luy did not present documentary proof of Biazon’s alleged receipt of the supposed kickback.
Biazon also vehemently denied allegations that Ducut was his agent.
The others who were named respondents include Napoles; Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and then-DBM employees Rosario Nuñez, Marilou Bare and Lalaine Paule; and former TRC Director General Antonio Ortiz as well as then-TRC employees Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana, Consuelo Lilian Espiritu, Francisco Figura, Marivic Jover, and Maurine Dimaranan.