MALACAñANG has not opposed proposals to place former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile under house arrest.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. on Thursday said President Benigno Aquino 3rd is taking the position of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on the issue.
“Secretary Leila de Lima, as the President’s alter ego on issues concerning justice, said the decision lies in the hands of the [Office of the] Ombudsman that filed the [cases]before the Sandiganbayan. And the Sandiganbayan will have to render a decision,” Coloma explained.
The Palace official’s remarks came as Malacañang allies in the House of Representatives backed proposals to allow Arroyo and Enrile to be placed under house arrest.
Led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Aquino’s supporters favored house arrest for Arroyo and Enrile after de Lima herself disclosed that she will no longer block moves to have the two ailing detainees placed under house arrest.
But Coloma noted that Enrile’s camp has issued a statement that they are yet to ask for house arrest for the lawmaker, who was recently rushed to a hospital.
Arroyo’s allies in Congress have called on the Sandiganbayan to place her under arrest at her Quezon City house, saying she has better chances of getting well in her home.
On the other hand, Enrile, who was brought to the Makati Medical Center for pneumonia, had both House and Senate allies batting for his house arrest.
Arroyo is detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center for plunder in connection with alleged misuse of confidential intelligence fund of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office while Enrile is among the principal accused in the alleged P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel scam.
But according to Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, placing Enrile under house arrest would set a bad precedent.
“If you allow this, then all elders who are in jail can also claim having pneumonia. Then there will be an epidemic of pneumonia,” Santiago said in jest.
Senate Minority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd and senators Grace Poe and Juan Edgardo Angara see nothing wrong in providing Enrile, a former Senate President, the best medical care but maintained that the matter be left to the decision of the doctors and the courts.