Sometimes, being old has its advantages.
Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile may not spend a day in jail even if he is arrested for plunder because he is well into his twilight years.
Enrile is 90 years old. He was born on February 14, 1924.
In an interview, retired Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuno said Enrile can enjoy “privileges” under the law once plunder and graft charges are filed against him by the Office of the Ombudsman at the Sandiganbayan.
Zuno, a veteran criminal prosecutor, was one of those who worked for the conviction of former president Joseph Estrada for plunder and former Zamboanga del Norte Rep. Romeo Jalosjos for the crime of rape.
According to Zuno, Enrile can escape jail because the Revised Penal Code allows mitigating circumstances to lower the penalty or punishment for indicted people who are 70 years old and above. Thus, if the verdict is life imprisonment, the penalty will be lowered by one degree.
“Under the Revised Penal Code, [being]70 years [old]and above… will be a mitigating circumstance and the penalty shall be lowered,” he said.
If Enrile is sickly, he can also ask for a hospital arrest. Or he can request that he be placed under the custody of the Senate President since he is a sitting senator.
If he is convicted, Enrile can also automatically appeal for presidential pardon because of his age.
Zuno said it will take years before the trial is completed.
He cited the plunder trial of Estrada, which took six years.
If the Sandiganbayan suspends Enrile, Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, work at the Senate will go on as usual, according to Sen. Francis Escudero.
Escudero said the upper chamber can still function and pass measures even if the number of senators drops to 21.
The senator explained that to be able to pass a measure, the Senate only needs to have a quorum and the vote of the majority of senators.