Morales in silent protest vs Enrile bail
AS JOKES about Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile’s “miracle recovery” abound, the woman who had indicted him for plunder is in silent protest, deferring to the Supreme Court’s ruling to allow him on humanitarian grounds to post bail despite his being charged with a nonbailable offense.
“Your question should be addressed to the Supreme Court,” Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales replied when asked in an interview with the Inquirer what she thought of Enrile’s apparent vigor after his temporary release because of his “fragile state of health” while under trial in connection with the P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.
“We filed an MR (motion for reconsideration). It’s still pending… So by filing an MR, it (bail grant) did not sit well with us. But you know, we could be wrong,” Morales told the Inquirer.
Following his indictment in June 2014, Enrile had been under hospital arrest. He was temporarily released last Aug. 18. The Ombudsman’s MR has been pending for nearly five months.
Asked if she felt the need to file another pleading to seek a speedy resolution of the MR, Morales, formerly a Supreme Court associate justice, said the magistrates would “merely note it.”
“I was there,” she said. “In most cases, when we receive motions for speedy resolution of cases, we note it … If the issues are very complicated, it would take time also to resolve it because it’s not the only case pending in court.”
Enrile, 91, returned to the Senate after the court, in an 8-4 vote, granted his bail plea last August.
In his ponencia, Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin cited Enrile’s frail health, “solid reputation in both his public and private lives” and “long years in public service” as compelling reasons in granting him bail.
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Associate Justices Marvic Leonen, Antonio Carpio and Estela Perlas-Bernabe dissented.
Leonen called the majority ruling a “special accommodation” and warned that it “will usher an era of truly selective justice not based on clear legal provisions,” but instead anchored on “the presence or absence of human compassion.”
Enrile did not seek humanitarian consideration in his bail plea, and instead said that the prosecution had failed “to show clearly and conclusively that if ever he would be convicted, he would be sentenced to life imprisonment. Enrile’s plea also said he was not a flight risk given his age and state of health.
“We were surprised,” Morales said of the court’s decision. “He did not even invoke humanitarian reasons. That humanitarian reason factor was factored into his motion for hospital arrest, if I correctly remember it, but not on his plea for bail.”
“Well, of course, the court can come up with a different angle and come up with a reason to justify that angle that they see would justify their release of Enrile,” she added.
The Ombudsman, in an interview last September, said the ruling had violated the equal protection clause, as the bail grant was tantamount to a “special favor” for the most senior member of the Senate.
Among the health conditions Enrile’s camp cited in court pleadings were chronic hypertension, cardiovascular disease, irregular heartbeat, Asthma-COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) overlap syndrome, eyesight problems, and historical diagnoses of high blood sugar, high cholesterol, gait or balance disorder, upper gastrointestinal bleeding and an enlarged prostate.
Last week, Enrile appeared in his element in back-to-back hearings on major cases at the Senate.
On Tuesday, he attended for the first time a hearing of the Senate blue ribbon’s anticorruption subcommittee on allegations against Vice President Jejomar Binay, his known ally.
He questioned testimonies of Binay’s accusers Renato Bondal and former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado, casting doubt on their allegations.
On Wednesday, Enrile appeared at the reopening of the Senate’s hearing on the bloody Jan. 25, 2015, Mamasapano encounter, and pointed the finger at President Aquino as among several officials liable for the death of 44 elite police officers during the operation to arrest Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan.
Enrile, along with his former chief of staff, Gigi Reyes, are accused of receiving nearly P173 million in kickbacks in the PDAF scam, allegedly the brainchild of businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
Both Reyes and Napoles are detained, along with Senators Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada, who are facing separate charges for their alleged role in the fund diversion racket.
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