Ombudsman Morales raises 3 issues vs Enrile bail
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on Monday said she had raised three objections to the Supreme Court’s decision granting bail to Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and allowing him temporary freedom while plunder charges against him are being tried.
Interviewed after the Senate approved her office’s budget for 2016, Morales said her office submitted on Friday its motion for reconsideration on the court ruling on Enrile, who went back to the Senate as majority leader after being detained for over a year on accusations he pocketed kickbacks from his pork barrel projects.
Last month, the high tribunal voted 8-4 to release the 91-year-old Enrile on bail on humanitarian grounds, sparking criticisms that it gave special treatment to a person in power. Plunder is a nonbailable offense.
Morales told reporters her office cited three reasons in questioning the bail granted to Enrile.
“(First), we were wondering why they had to grant the petition because the ground given by the court was not even considered by the Sandiganbayan or by Enrile himself. He hasn’t raised that,” she said, referring to the humanitarian grounds that the court cited in granting bail to the senator.
Morales noted that Enrile had raised his “fragile state of health” in his motion to seek hospital confinement, but not in his motion to file bail or petition to bail.
There was also denial of due process, the Ombudsman said. “They gave that ground, frail health, without giving the prosecution or the people the opportunity to controvert it,” she said.
Lastly, Morales said the ruling violated the equal protection clause because “of that special favor that they gave to the senator.”
“This should also be given and has not been given to any Tom, Dick and Harry that was in a similar situation before,” she said.
Told that her petition was similar to the dissenting opinion of Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, Morales said, “We came up with arguments that are analogous to the dissenting opinion of the dissenter but that does not necessarily mean that we’re parroting it.”
Leonen, in his dissenting vote supported by Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno and Associate Justices Antonio Carpio and Estela Perlas-Bernabe, called the decision a “special accommodation” for Enrile.
Leonen pointed out as well that Enrile did not even invoke humanitarian considerations in his bail petition, and that such a ground for granting an exemption from bail “does not exist.”
Enrile is on trial at the Sandiganbayan on a charge that he, through his then chief of staff Gigi Reyes, pocketed P173 million in kickbacks from projects financed with his allocations from the Priority Development Assistance Fund, a pork barrel that the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional in 2013.
Enrile is also charged with 15 counts of graft filed in the Office of the Ombudsman.—Christine O. Avendaño
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