VICE President Jejomar Binay on Saturday railed at the prosecution panel’s rejection of the proposed house arrest instead of regular detention for the sickly Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and former President now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, calling it a “cold and callous” stance and shows the government’s “lack of compassion” for the elderly.
Enrile, who is facing plunder charges, was rushed to the Makati Medical Center (MMC) from his prison cell on Thursday after coughing up blood, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said.
In a statement issued over the weekend, Binay scored the “selective” justice system applied against members of the opposition.
“It also reinforces the widely-held view of selective justice under the present Administration and invites criticisms that political opponents are treated harshly,” said the vice president, who himself is being politically prosecuted for allegedly amassing ill-gotten wealth during his time as Makati City mayor.
“Senator Enrile is 91 years old. He needs medical attention for several ailments and medical conditions that go with his advanced age. His ongoing bout with pneumonia shows the fragility of his physical state.
House arrest for him would be the compassionate thing to do,” stressed Binay.
Likewise, Binay sought the same privilege for Arroyo, who is presently under hospital arrest on various charges.
“Compassion should also be given to former President Arroyo. She is also of frail health. Her petition for house arrest is being opposed by government prosecutors and her case has barely moved in court,” according to Binay.
“The fact that the former president is a political opponent should not deprive her of the compassion that should be extended to all detainees similarly situated, regardless of political affiliation,” he pointed out.
Chief Inspector Dudes Raymond Santos, spokesperson for the PNP Health Center, said that Enrile was transferred to the MMC around 3 a.m. due to coughing with blood, which required more laboratory tests.
Santos said Enrile had pneumonia that should be taken care of in a better-equipped hospital, given the unpredictability of the senator’s health.
Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo, head of PNP-Public Information Office (PIO), said that the Sandiganbayan has a standing resolution allowing Sen. Enrile to be transferred to another hospital in case of an emergency.
Cerbo said Enrile had to be rushed from the PNP General Hospital to the MMC because of suspected pneumonia, and his lack of evident response to medication. Enrile was properly escorted by Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) personnel, he said.
The PNP awaits the recommendations of Enrile’s attending physicians whether to return the senator to his cell at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City, Cerbo added.
Enrile is one of the accused senators in the P10 billion pork barrel fund case. The other two being Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., both of whom are detained at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame.
Meanwhile, the prosecution has renewed its push for the transfer of Revilla to a regular jail in Camp Bagong Diwa after the senator was photographed in the birthday party of Enrile in the PNP General Hospital.
In a motion/manifestation before the Sandiganbayan’s First Division, government prosecutors noted that Revilla was able to sneak in to the private birthday celebration of Senator Enrile on Feb 14 at the latter’s hospital room by pretending to have a medical emergency because the police officers guarding him at the PNP Custodial Center were not equipped to guard detainees.
“Even as the accused Revilla denied partying with Senator Enrile, he could not maintain such denial in the face of clear and direct proof. For the consideration of this Honorable Court, copies of pictures sent to the prosecution are attached hereto showing accused Revilla, with Jolo Revilla, seated at a table during Senator Enrile’s birthday celebration.
This validates the prosecution’s position that accused Revilla’s detention in the PNP Custodial Center is improper because the PNP barracks are not administered and staffed by jail officers and thus, are not trained on the proper handling of persons detained during trial,” the prosecution said.
“This movement is unauthorized and a blatant violation of this Honorable Court’s 20 June 2014 Order that he should be detained at the PNP Custodial Center barracks and that the PNP should not allow the accused to be moved, removed, or relocated until further orders from the Court. In light of recent developments, the People of the Philippines respectfully reiterates its prayer that this Honorable Court direct the transfer of accused Revilla to a detention facility of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology,” the prosecutors added.
The prosecution cited that Revilla’s detention in the PNP barracks is 200 meters away from the PNP General Hospital and Senator Enrile’s hospital room is neither on the way of, or even near, the Emergency Room where Revilla should have been brought if he, indeed, had a medical emergency.
“The prosecution submits that this incident should bear heavily on the decision on whether Revilla should continue to be detained at the PNP Custodial Center barracks, an issue pending resolution before this Honorable Court,” the prosecution added.
Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas of the Department of Interior and Local Government already fired 11 police guards as a result of Revilla’s stunt.