Senator Juan Ponce Enrile’s lawyer Eleazar Reyes on Thursday described the pace of the implementation of the Supreme Court (SC) ruling as “out of the ordinary.”
The SC on Tuesday granted the bail petition of Enrile, 91, who is facing a P172-million plunder case before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan, in connection with the pork barrel scam.
As of Thursday noon, the anti-graft court has yet to receive a copy of the High Court’s ruling. When the Sandiganbayan has not yet received the ruling, Reyes said, “Many of us old practitioners know that this is a little bit irregular, I mean, out of the ordinary, because normally when an immediate release order is given, on the same day they serve it, and it is immediately implemented.”
He added, “The justices themselves have ordered immediate release, how come they’re delaying.”
When asked if he saw any reason for the perceived delay, the lawyer said, “I don’t know, I don’t want to impute anything, I might get into trouble.”
The Office of the Ombudsman, which filed plunder and graft charges against Enrile in June 2014, alleged he received P172 million in kickbacks by pouring his pork barrel allocation to bogus projects through non-governmental organizations (NGOs) supposedly run by Janet Lim-Napoles.
No bail was recommended for the plunder charge because it is actionable by capital punishment, while P30,000 was the recommended bail for the accused’s temporary freedom in 15 counts of graft.
When asked if there was special accommodation for Enrile, Reyes said, “I don’t think that’s the way the majority looks at it, so there’s no point discussing that one.”
The lawyer added, “Everybody has a right to bail before conviction. That bail may be denied. Remember the word is denied, not prohibited. [Bail] may be denied if it is a capital punishment, and the evidence of guilt is strong. But even if it is a capital offense, and before the prosecution presents evidence it is shown he is not a flight risk, he may be given bail. There are a lot of jurisprudences on that.”
The Sandiganbayan received a copy of the SC ruling on Thursday afternoon.