No court decision yet on Enrile, Gigi Reyes detention
MANILA, Philippines–They apparently want to be next door to each other.
But Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and his former chief of staff, Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, have to wait longer while the Sandiganbayan decides where to detain them while on trial on plunder and graft charges over the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
After a hearing Tuesday afternoon, the antigraft court’s Third Division was expected to decide on Enrile’s request that he be detained at Philippine National Police General Hospital in Camp Crame, Quezon City. But no decision had been issued by the close of office hours.
The Third Division—composed of Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang and Associate Justices Alex Quiroz and Samuel Martirez—is also expected to decide soon Reyes’ request to be held at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame instead of the Quezon City Jail.
During the hearing, prosecutors from the Office of the Ombudsman opposed the requests of Enrile and Reyes.
No signs of poor health
Prosecutors Jennifer Agustin-Se and Annielyn Medes-Cabelis said the 90-year-old Enrile did not show signs of poor health before his arrest last Friday.
They said Enrile’s claims of various ailments and need for checkups and access to medical care were “unfounded and self-serving considering his actions in the past.”
“[Although being] 90 years of age, he’s been performing arduous functions without absenting himself,” Se said, adding that Enrile has had stem cell treatment. “So [his health is] not as precarious as [he now claims].”
Enrile’s lead lawyer, Estelito Mendoza, argued that the senator needed to be held in a hospital due to his frail health.
“He’s asking for his transfer not for comfort. He’s asking to be given facilities to preserve the life God has given him and facilities to secure him,” the 85-year-old former solicitor general said.
‘Learn to keep quiet’
Associate Justice Martirez corrected the prosecutors’ claim that the police acted without court approval when they moved Enrile from the PNP Custodial Center to PNP General Hospital on Friday when the senator’s blood pressure shot up.
Martirez said the jail administrator was duty-bound to immediately bring to hospital detainees who need the medical attention.
“I just hope you learn to just keep quiet when there’s a need to keep quiet rather than give the impression that the court had been remiss,” Martirez told the prosecutors.
“You should also understand that the blood pressure of Enrile is erratic…. At age 85 or 90, your medical condition is no longer stable,” he added.
In opposing Reyes’ request to be held in the PNP Custodial Center, the prosecutors played down her claim of being a “high-profile detainee.”
Reyes is held at the Sandiganbayan detention cell. The court has ordered her moved to the Quezon City Jail if the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) can find space there for her.
The prosecutors said other detainees at the Quezon City Jail were being taken to court for hearings without incident.
Chief Supt. Elena Rocamora of the BJMP told the court that she would not recommend Reyes’ transfer to the Quezon City Jail because the jail was “800-percent overcapacity,” currently housing 502 female inmates in two dormitories that could accommodate only 56.
Rocamora also said the BJMP had only 15 officers to escort detainees to court hearings.
Martirez lambasted the Commission on Human Rights for not speaking up on the congestion and deplorable conditions in the country’s jails.
Associate Justice Quiroz pointed out that prosecutors handling the plunder and graft cases against Senators Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada did not object to the lawmakers’ detention at the PNP Custodial Center.
Enrile will be arraigned on Friday and the PNP says it is ready to take the Senate minority leader to court for his arraignment.
An ambulance will be part of the security convoy that will escort the Senate minority leader from PNP General Hospital to the Sandiganbayan in Quezon City, Chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac, spokesman for the PNP, told a news briefing on Tuesday.
“We are continuously refining our security preparations for his arraignment, which may be similar to the arrangements for Senators Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada, but of course with minor improvements,” Sindac said.
An alarming blood pressure of 210/90, a pulse rate of 84 and abnormal heart sounds prompted police doctors to recommend temporary hospital confinement for Enrile.
As of Tuesday morning, Enrile’s blood pressure had gone down to 135/60 while his pulse rate was at 61.
His 2D echo with Doppler test scheduled for yesterday morning was moved to 6 p.m. so as not to inconvenience PNP dependents and personnel who were also scheduled to undergo the procedure, Sindac said.
Sindac said Enrile ate his hospital breakfast of pan de sal, kesong puti and two hard-boiled eggs “with a fair appetite.”
“The senator claimed that he had sufficient and restful sleep and did his routine morning exercises,” Sindac said.
Sindac did not specify the morning exercises, but said Enrile’s performing them was an indication that the senator was doing fine.
“What this means is that he is doing well, he is coping with the situation,” Sindac added.
On a request from the senator’s family, a personal doctor, nurse and aide were standing by while Enrile is confined at the PNP hospital.
Enrile is in the custody of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), which decides whether to accommodate requests from his family.
But once the Sandiganbayan issues a commitment order, which brings him under the jurisdiction of the court, it will be the court that will decide such matters.
Asked on the delineation of duties of Enrile’s personal doctor and the PNP doctor, Sindac said he hoped the matter would be among the issues to be resolved by the court.
“We hope that it will be specified in the order, as well as limitations, restrictions, as well as what his counsel and medical staff can do,” Sindac said.
Also expected to be made clear are the visiting hours for Enrile should the Sandiganbayan order his detention at the PNP hospital.
While Enrile spends for his medicines for hypertension, diabetes, elevated cholesterol, vertigo, blood thinners, antianemia injectables and multivitamins, it is the PNP that spends for his stay in the hospital, including the 2-D echo procedure, which, according to Sindac, is covered by expenses for police operations for the arrest or custody of detainees.
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