SC poised to let senator post bail
SENATOR Juan Ponce Enrile will be a free man again as the Supreme Court (SC) is set to grant his petition for bail this week.
Sources at the High Court said a 17-page draft decision ordering the provisional release of Enrile circulated among the justices last week.
The decision was written by Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin.
Sources told The Manila Times that an overwhelming majority of the justices are for the release of Enrile, 91, for humanitarian reasons.
They said there is even a chance for a unanimous ruling for the senator, who is under hospital arrest for plunder and graft.
The sources said most justices decided to show mercy and compassion for the senator because of his frail health.
The High Court set a bail of P500,000 for Enrile’s temporary liberty, according to the sources.
They said the draft decision “directs the immediate release of petitioner Enrile from custody or prison unless he is being detained for some other unlawful cause.”
It also will set aside resolutions issued by the Sandiganbayan’s Third Division and orders the “provisional release of petitioner Enrile upon posting of a cash bond of P500,000.00.”
SC justices will vote on the draft decision on Tuesday during their regular en banc session.
The sources said if there will be changes in the dispositive portion of the decision, these will be very minor and will likely involve some editing.
An SC official said the new draft deviates from the original draft, which centered on the issues of “mitigating circumstances.”
He added that more justices favored the granting of Enrile’s appeal because the draft decision focused on “humanitarian reasons.”
The sources said the justices agreed not to discuss mitigating circumstances since the senator has not been convicted yet and the issue is only limited to his petition for bail.
Only 14 justices will vote on the draft resolution because Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza inhibited from the case since he represented the government when he was the Solicitor General.
Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes, although on medical leave, is expected to leave his vote with Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
Last week, the SC granted Enrile’s petition for a Bill of Particulars in connection with the plunder complaint filed against him involving the pork barrel scam.
With the granting of Enrile’s petition, the case filed against the senator will go back to the Office of the Ombudsman, possibly compelling Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales to reinvestigate the cases filed against the senator.
Those who voted in favor of Enrile were Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Arturo Brion, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Jose Perez, Jose Mendoza and Estela Perlas-Bernabe while dissenting were Chief Justice Sereno and Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Mariano del Castillo, Martin Villarama and Marvic Leonen.
Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes was on leave.
The former Senate president surrendered to the police in July last year.
He was accused of receiving P172 million in kickbacks from his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel, which he allegedly poured into dubious projects of non-government organizations owned or controlled by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
The SC declared the PDAF illegal in 2013.