Enrile out on bail, says his faith in justness of Judiciary vindicated
AFTER one year in hospital detention, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile is now a free man – for now.
Leaving his detention place in the Philippine National Police (PNP) General Hospital at 5:55 p.m., the 91-year-old senator arrived at the Sandiganbayan at 6:30 p.m. to appear for the application of his P1.45 million bail as he faces trial for plunder over the pork barrel scam.
“Today I’ve been released out of custody. I would like to state for the record that my faith in the probity and justness of our Judiciary has been vindicated,” Enrile said in a brief interview.
“I would go back to my work and have no interest except the interest of our country,” he added.
Clerk of Court Third Division Atty. Dennis Pulma signed the release order served on the accused party. Meanwhile, Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang approved the bail application.
Pulma said Enrile’s bail is only for his provisional release as he still faces trial for plunder for his alleged involvement in the scheme of spending his Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) to ghost projects for kickbacks.
Enrile’s lawyers paid the P1.45 million bail in 14 bundles of P100,000 cash, each counted with the aid of a machine at the Sandiganbayan cashier.
The bail was paid after the Sandiganbayan issued the produce order instructing the police to bring Enrile to court for the processing of his bail application for plunder case filed against him, ordinarily a non-bailable offense.
Enrile posted bail after the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday in a vote of 8-4 granted his motion to reverse the Sandiganbayan Third Division’s ruling, which denied his bail plea.
The decision came exactly a week after the SC sided with Enrile’s request for bill of particulars in the plunder case stemming from his alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.
The Supreme Court set the bail amount at P1 million. On top of the P30,000 bail for each of his 15 graft charges, Enrile paid a total amount of P1.45 million.
Enrile went to the Supreme Court after the Sandiganbayan Third Division last year denied his motion that he be allowed to post bail.
In his 70-page petition for certiorari filed Sept. 4, 2014, Enrile said he should be allowed to post bail since the prosecution failed to present strong evidence against him and that the charges “cannot be considered a capital offense.”
At the same time, Enrile said he is not a “flight risk considering that he even voluntarily surrendered to the authorities when the warrant for his arrest was issued by the anti-graft court.
He also cited his advanced age as another reason for the SC to grant his petition.
Enrile is under hospital detention while his chief of staff Atty. Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes is detained at the female dormitory of Camp Bagong Diwa as they face plunder and 15 counts of graft for their alleged involvement in the purported scheme of pilfering the senator’s Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) to ghost projects for kickbacks.
According to the financial records of principal whistleblower Benhur Luy, Enrile received P172.8 million in kickbacks from Napoles, who referred to Enrile as “Tanda” in the use of codenames for the alleged scam.
The witnesses had also testified that they personally saw Napoles hand over Enrile’s kickbacks to his alleged agent Ruby Tuason.
State witness Tuason, a socialite and social secretary of former President Joseph Estrada, has said she delivered kickbacks for Enrile from Napoles through Enrile’s chief of staff Reyes over lunch meetings in posh restaurants.
Tuason said Enrile sometimes fetched Reyes and invited them for coffee after these supposed lunch meetings.
Accused mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles is serving life sentence for the serious illegal detention of her former entrusted financial officer Benhur Luy, who turned against her when he was detained by the businesswoman over suspicions he was starting his own scam. Marc Jayson Cayabyab/RC/AC
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