Court permits Enrile hospital arrest amid ‘pork’ cases
MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan third division granted Senator Juan Ponce Enrile’s request for hospital detention even as he faced plunder and graft charges over the pork barrel scam.
In a resolution released on Friday, the division said it was granting Enrile’s hospital detention plea, and allowed the Philippine National Police (PNP) General Hospital to continue holding Enrile in custody as he stands trial.
The court also allowed the continuing hospital detention of Enrile until he was fit to be transferred to a Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP)-administered facility.
“Juan Ponce Enrile’s motion for detention at the PNP General Hospital (pending resolution of motion for bail) dated July 4, 2014 is granted. Accordingly, accused is allowed to remain in confinement at the PNP General Hospital until he is determined by the doctors to be physically fit for detention at the BJMP facility or until further orders from the Court,” the decision read.
The court noted that Enrile, according to his medical check-up, has:
* chronic hypertension,
*atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of arteries), *arrhythmia (irregular heart beat),
*postnasal drop syndrome (drainage of mucus from nose or sinus down the back of throat),
*and age-related macular degeneration (vision loss).
“Based on the findings and recommendations… placing Enrile in a regular jail facility would definitely endanger the latter’s life,” the court said.
The court said detaining him in a regular jail facility would not assure that the accused could live through his trial.
“Indeed, placing Enrile under hospital arrest would likewise address the objective of the prosecution ‘in seeing to it that he will face trial and not abscond or be exposed to unnecessary risks,'” the court said.
In a separate concurring opinion penned by Associate Justice Alex Quiroz, he said Enrile should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
He said the court considered Enrile’s defense that his frail health may result in a life-threatening condition if he would be jailed.
“The likelihood of the serious but non-life threatening condition escalating and turning into life-threatening condition has the primordial consideration in the grant of accused Enrile’s motion,” the opinion read.
“Considering the undersigned has always considered paramount the rights of the accused to be presumed innocent to life, liberty and property and to the equal protection of the law, the undersigned yields and concurs as to the outcome,” it added.
The court had deferred its decision on Enrile’s motion and said it did not have the competence to assess the senator’s medical condition. The court then ordered Enrile to have a checkup at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) which was later ordered to report to the court.
Dr. Jose Gonzales, PGH Director, told the anti-graft court that Enrile has bronchial asthma and that a pulmonologist should check on his condition immediately.
The camp of Enrile asked the court to put him under hospital arrest, citing his “advanced age and frail condition”.
The 90-year-old senator also asked the court to allow him access to other medical facilities “in case of emergency of necessity” and under security by the guards.
Enrile cited his need for regular intravitreal injection.
“(T)he PNP General Hospital may not have the necessary specialists or resources to fully address Enrile’s elderly needs and poor medical condition, and the complete specialized equipment and facilities for the delicate treatments requires for his particular ailments…” the motion read.
In his motion for bail, which was later dismissed by the court, Enrile said he had:
*extensive coronary artery calcification in the right coronary,
*age-related macular degeneration,
*elevated blood fasting sugar,
*mild anemia, and
*eight other diseases.
Also, according to a medical certificate from the Makati Medical Center and attached to the bail motion, Enrile was under 22 maintenance medicines–21 tablets and an injection.
Government prosecutors had opposed Enrile’s motion, saying hospital detention is not only “extraordinary,” it is also out of reach to other detainees who do not share the social stature of the veteran lawmaker.
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