Nancy Binay files bill allowing house or hospital arrest
MANILA, Philippines–Should the allegations of corruption against Vice President Jejomar Binay lead to his indictment for plunder in the Sandiganbayan, would he accept incarceration at the Makati City Jail instead of asking to be placed under house arrest?
There is no law in the Philippines authorizing house arrest so unless he becomes so ill that he requires hospital or home care, he cannot argue for detention at home and will surely land in the Makati clink.
But not if Congress works fast on a bill that would authorize the courts to order the confinement of certain prisoners in their own homes or hospitals.
The Vice President’s daughter, Sen. Nancy Binay, has introduced the bill, although it appears to have nothing to do with the worst-case scenario in the political mess in Makati.
It has nothing to do either, she says, with the case of the 90-year-old Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, who is detained at the Philippine National Police General Hospital in Camp Crame, Quezon City, on plunder and graft charges over the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
Speaking in an interview on Monday, Senator Binay said her proposal was prompted by the experience of Andrea Rosal, daughter of the late New People’s Army (NPA) spokesperson Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal, who was arrested on March 27 and was held in a regular jail despite her advanced pregnancy.
The court ordered Rosal moved to the government-run Philippine General Hospital on May 17, and hours later she prematurely gave birth to a baby girl. The infant died two days later due to hypoxemia or oxygen deficiency in the blood.
Human rights groups blamed the infant’s death on lack of care for the mother in jail.
Binay said her bill would give prisoners the option to be placed under house or hospital arrest.
In the introductory notes to her bill that she filed on Sept. 8, Binay said the Rules of Criminal Procedure did not provide for house arrest, and the term only appeared in the Human Security Act of 2007, or the anti-terror law.
“Notwithstanding the reference to ‘house arrest,’ there is insufficient legal basis under existing laws for courts to issue such alternative mode of confinement for detention prisoners,” Binay said.
The bill, she said in the interview, would allow the courts, in the exercise of their discretion, to order prisoners’ detention in their houses, or the hospital where they have been confined due to a medical condition.
These prisoners should be accompanied by a member of the Philippine National Police at all times, she said.
The bill would also give concessions to prisoners by authorizing the court to allow them to be temporarily freed from detention, upon the recommendation of the Department of Justice, for humanitarian reasons.
The reasons include attendance at a relative’s funeral, visiting a critically ill relative, and obtaining medical, psychiatric, and other health services.
“Relative” refers to the offender’s father, mother, child, stepchild, adopted child, brother, sister, current spouse, grandparents or any person who is serving a parental capacity.
In explaining the house arrest option in the introductory notes to the bill, Binay cited the death of Rosal’s baby as well as the detention of prisoners with health or special conditions, which she said had generated interest in house or hospital arrest, and other alternative ways of confinement of prisoners who need particular care.
Binay’s bill has been referred to the Senate committee on justice and human rights.
Despite the absence of house arrest in the rules of criminal procedure, courts have allowed the detention of certain prisoners in hospitals or their homes.
The Sandiganbayan allowed former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada to be detained in his rest house in Tanay town, Rizal province, while he was undergoing trial on charges of plunder.
Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, accused of plunder, graft and electoral fraud, is held at Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City.
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