SAYING that the Supreme Court (SC) erred when it granted Senator Juan Ponce Enrile provisional liberty, the Office of the Ombudsman asked the tribunal to set aside its ruling and issue a new one denying Enrile’s petition for bail.
The Ombudsman, in its petition, said the High Court’s ruling is unfair, unjust and unconstitutional because it granted the senator’s petition on humanitarian ground.
“There is no other way to characterize the pronouncements of the Honorable Supreme Court in the decision but by saying that they are incompatible to, and irreconcilable with, the 1987 Constitution. Indeed, there is no provision in the 1987 Constitution, in any statute or in the Rules of Court that bail may be granted for humanitarian considerations. Breaking new ground to make ‘humanitarian considerations’ a justification for granting bail to persons accused of grave crimes is, with all due respect, an impermissible modification to the constitutional principles involving bail,” it said.
It noted that bail petitions should be resolved based on the evidence of guilt.
Enrile was charged with plunder in connection with the pork barrel scam.
The Ombudsman said the SC ruling made a “mockery of justice.”
“It is a picture of injustice, inequality, partiality and preference. It confirms to our weary kababayans (fellowmen) that a different kind and quality of justice indeed applies to the rich and powerful,” it said.
“Said senator is allowed provisional liberty on the ground that his health is failing and needs medical attention. On the first day of his freedom, however, the same senator reports for duty with strength and vitality, exhibiting none of the weakness and frailty that the Honorable Supreme Court said he labors under,” the Ombudsman added.
In its ruling issued on August 18, the High Court allowed Enrile to post P1.4 million bail for the plunder and 15 counts of graft complaints he is facing at the Sandiganbayan.
In its petition for certiorari, the Office of the Ombudsman questioned the SC ruling on three grounds — it “unduly and radically modified constitutional and procedural principles governing bail” without enough legal basis, it “violates the people’s constitutional right to due process of law since it was based on grounds not raised in the petition and therefore never refuted or contested,” and it “gave preferential treatment and undue favor” to Enrile.
The Ombudsman maintained that offenses punishable by life imprisonment are not bailable as a matter of right but are bailable in the discretion of the courts when evidence of guilt is not strong.
“In resolving the petition, however, the Honorable Supreme Court has seemingly lost sight of this fundamental nuance in the constitutional right to bail. Petitioner is currently facing trial for plunder, a crime punishable by reclusion perpetua to death, he cannot be admitted to bail as a matter of right, unless it can be determined that evidence of his guilt is not strong,” the office said.
“Petitioner, notwithstanding his Stature as a Senator of the Republic, can claim no greater or more expansive rights than any other Filipino,” it added.
Enrile brought his case to the SC after the Sandiganbayan denied his petition for bail.
Last year, the anti-graft court’s Third Division said it is premature to set an amount for bail “without an anterior showing that the evidence of guilt against accused Enrile is not strong.”