SENATOR Juan Ponce Enrile on Monday asked the Sandiganbayan to allow him to stay at the Philippine National Police General Hospital in Camp Crame even as he also reiterated his appeal to be granted bail.
The senator cited old age and his “frail” medical condition in his appeal for a temporary hospital arrest pending the legal recourse he may pursue to defend himself from the plunder and graft charges filed against him in connection with the pork barrel scam.
In his motion for bail, the 90-year-old Enrile argued that he deserved to be granted bail because the prosecution has not established strong evidence of guilt against him and that his maximum penalty for plunder will be one degree lower than lifetime imprisonment (40 years) since he is already over 70 years of age as stated by the Revised Penal Code.
”While Enrile is charged with plunder, the maximum penalty that may possibly be imposed on him is reclusion temporal [20-year prison time], not reclusion perpetua, and thus, bailable,” the motion read.
“Even while an arrest warrant has already been issued against Enrile, he is, by this submission, nonetheless voluntarily surrendering to the Honorable Court,” his counsel Estelito Mendoza told the court.
The defense said his surrender, however, is without prejudice to his right to be granted bail, to question “at the proper time” the validity of the charges and the issuance of an arrest warrant against him.
Enrile already filed a motion for bail ahead of his arrest last Friday but the anti-graft court threw it out for being premature.
“Enrile is not a flight risk and his age and physical condition must also be seriously considered by the Honorable Court,” Mendoza said.
In determining the amount of bail, Enrile argued that the following grounds should be considered: financial ability, nature and circumstance of the offense, penalty for the offense charged, character and reputation of the accused, age and health of the accused, weight of the evidence, probability of the accused appearing at the trial, forfeiture of other bail, the fact that the accused was fugitive from justice when arrested and pendency of other cases where the accused is on bail.
”Enrile should be entitled to the most reasonable amount of bail, considering that there is insufficiency of evidence against him, he is already 90 years of age, he has poor physical condition requiring medical attention, has never violated the conditions of previous bails granted to him, he is not a flight risk and will surely appear before the Honorable Court should trial ensue,” the motion read.
The senator’s motion to fix bail is set for hearing before the Sandiganbayan’s Third Division this afternoon.
The anti-graft court’s Third Division will also hear the motion of Enrile’s co-accused in the plunder case, his ex-aide Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, who has asked the court to detain her in the Philippine National Police Custodial Center where Enrile, as well as senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, are also held on graft and plunder charges.
Last Friday, the anti-graft court ordered the arrest of Enrile and his four co-accused after finding probable cause for plunder in connection with the pork barrel scam.
The defense, in a pleading dated July 4 but filed only on Monday morning, asked that the senator, in the meantime, be placed under hospital detention subject to conditions the court may prescribe, pending recourse to other available remedies, the court’s resolution of his motion for bail and “any further motion.”
The defense also asked the court to give authority to the hospital head to exercise his professional medical judgment or discretion to allow Enrile access to a medical facility outside Camp Crame, secured with appropriate guards, and be returned to the PNP General Hospital after the appropriate medical treatment or procedure is given.
His co-accused in the plunder case, aside from Reyes, are alleged pork scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, Napoles’ nephew Ronald John Lim and Napoles’ driver John Raymond de Asis.
Napoles is detained in Laguna while Lim and de Asis are at large.
Also on Monday, PNP officials defended their move to allow Enrile to undergo an eye check-up twice at a private hospital in Makati City (Metro Manila) over the weekend.
After the check-ups were performed at the Asian Eye Institute on Saturday and Sunday, the senator was brought back to Camp Crame immediately.
The director of PNP Health Service, Chief Supt. Alejandro Advincula, told reporters that Enrile was permitted to see his eye doctor at the premier eye hospital in Rockwell.
Meanwhile, PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac said the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) has returned to the Sandiganbayan the arrest warrant it issued for Enrile.
“At present, the senator is still under the custody of the CIDG… we hope [the court]to rule as soon as possible on the commitment order,” Sindac told a news briefing late Monday afternoon.
The PNP spokesman said Enrile’s family has requested to limit the number of visitors of the senator to 60 people and to keep the visits private.
The senator’s family provided a list of persons who will be allowed to visit Enrile. These include direct family members, VIPs and senators, legal and security personnel and personal staff.
Sindac said the senator is doing well at the PNP hospital.
Enrile is scheduled to undergo another eye check-up on July 12 unless the Sandiganbayan issues a commitment order for him before that date.
WITH A REPORT FROM ANTHONY VARGAS