Santiago on calls for Enrile house arrest: ‘Why make an exemption for him?’
Video by RYAN LEAGOGO/INQUIRER.net
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago warned of an epidemic of pneumonia in Philippine jails if detained Senator Juan Ponce Enrile would be granted a house arrest now that he is suffering from the said illness.
Santiago invoked the equal protection of the law in opposing the house arrest for Enrile as proposed by some of his colleagues in the Senate.
“Although people are by nature unequal, the law must treat them equally,” she said during a press conference in the Senate on Thursday.
“Bakit si President Gloria Arroyo, former president of the Philippines, bakit binigyan s’ya ng hospital arrest samantalang si Enrile, bibigyan ng house arrest at former Senate President lang s’ya?” the senator said, referring to former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is detained at the Veteran’s Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) on plunder charges.
(Gloria Arroyo, former President of the Philippines, is currently under hospital arrest. Why will Enrile then be granted house arrest when he is only a former Senate President?)
Enrile was also charged with plunder and has been under a hospital arrest inside the Philippine National Police headquarters in Quezon City in connection with the so-called “pork barrel” scam.
“What about age? Are we going to take it into consideration? How many people of his age have died in jail waiting for their appeals to be decided? Why are you making an exemption for him?” Santiago said, apparently referring to 91-year-old Enrile, who was rushed to the Makati Medical Center last February 26 due to pneumonia.
“If we want persons of that age to stay out of jail let’s have a law, that’s the procedure. So don’t ask for an exemption for one person in a democracy. You ask for a law that will make it possible to attain certain conditions for everybody who falls under the requirements of the law. That is due process of law,” she explained.
“So it is completely prohibited for the law to seek special treatment just for one person alone no matter how ill he might be unless he’s at the point of death and after that, he will have to return to wherever he came from,” she added.
Besides, Santiago said pneumonia is a tricky disease as it “mimics” cold.
“E di kung ubuhin ka pala pwede ka ng mag-house arrest? E di umubo ka nang umubo(When you cough, should you be granted house arrest? Then you will just cough and cough) ? So what I’m saying it does not meet the threshold of a possible threat to the life of the person because every person is entitled to life but not in that sense you’re trivializing the constitutional principle…”she said.
“Otherwise, lahat na lang ng tao sa mga jails natin, sa kulungan natin, magnu-pneumonia ‘yan,sigurado ako (all the inmates in our jails will pretend they have pneumonia, I am sure of that),” said the senator.
“When I was a judge, I had a no postponement policy. This court will not grant postponement for any reason except death. And if you claim to die you better be dead because I’ll kill you anyway,” she said.
She said that to avoid being cited for contempt, witnesses, lawyers and parties involved in a case, would claim they have diarrhea.
“When I became judge, I was surprised at the extent of diarrhea in the Philippines at least in Metro Manila. Magiging ganun ‘yun, lahat na lang sila may diarrhea ‘yung testigo, ‘yung abugado, ‘yung party to the case. Kaya magiging ganun din ‘yun so if you allow this, lahat na lang ng matatanda sa preso sa kulungan magki-claim din silang may pneumonia sila. There will be an epidemic of pneumonia,” Santiago added.
(When I became judge, I was surprised at the extent of diarrhea in the Philippines at least in Metro Manila. The witnesses, the lawyers, and the parties to the case will ‘have diarrhea.’ The same will happen here if you allow this. All the old people in prison will claim that they have pneumonia. There will be an epidemic of pneumonia.)
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