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Philippine court enters not-guilty plea for powerful senator facing economic plunder charge

A Philippine court has entered a not-guilty plea for a senator and dictatorship-era martial law enforcer who has been detained on charges of economic plunder with two other prominent colleagues.

The Sandiganbayan court made the move after ailing Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile refused to enter a plea Friday to the large-scale corruption charge, which he has denied. The 90-year-old legislator was brought to the court in an ambulance from a police hospital, where he has been detained since surrendering last week.

Enrile and two other senators were ordered arrested by the court for allegedly receiving huge kickbacks from a scam that diverted millions of dollars from anti-poverty and development funds allotted to lawmakers.

Enrile was defense minister when Ferdinand Marcos placed the Philippines under martial rule in 1972.