Red tape stalls walk to freedom

WE’VE SPENT SO MUCH TIME Lawyers of detained Senator Juan Ponce Enrile await in vain for the transmission of the Supreme Court ruling ordering the Sandiganbayan to allow their client to post pail.  PHOTO BY MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

WE’VE SPENT SO MUCH TIME Lawyers of detained Senator Juan Ponce Enrile await in vain for the transmission of the Supreme Court ruling ordering the Sandiganbayan to allow their client to post pail.

Detained senator Juan Ponce Enrile cannot be released just yet from “hospital arrest” at the Philippine National Police (PNP) General Hospital in Camp Panopio in Quezon City on Wednesday.

This was because the Clerk of Court of the Supreme Court (SC) en banc has not yet released an official copy of the promulgated decision signed by the SC justices who favored the granting of the senator’s petition for certiorari allowing him to post bail for the case of plunder and graft in connection with his alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

The Sandiganbayan 3rd Division opened its offices on Wednesday, a non-working holiday in Quezon City, so it could process Enrile’s release should the SC issue a copy of the resolution. The anti-graft court closed shop without getting a copy of the SC ruling.

“I will not speculate,” the anti-graft court’s Third Division Clerk of Court Dennis Pulma told reporters at about 3 p.m. when asked what caused the delay.

Enrile’s lawyers are puzzled why the High Court has not issued the promulgated order a day after it granted the senator’s motion to fix his bail.

“We really do not know what’s happening. It’s already up to the Supreme Court. On our part, we are just waiting,” Joseph Sagandoy, one of Enrile’s legal counsels staking out at the PNP General Hospital in Camp Panopio where the senator is being held, said.

Enrile has been detained at the hospital since July last year over his alleged involvement in the P10-billion pork barrel scam.

According to the SC Clerk of Court of the SC, Felipa Anama, they could not issue a notice of resolution for as long as there is still no promulgated decision.

Enrile’s lawyers can present the notice of resolution to the Sandiganbayan to prove that the SC has already made a ruling allowing him to post bail.

It was not yet clear as of Wednesday what was the basis of the SC decision and who voted in favor or not to grant the petition for bail of the senator because the SC Public Information Office (PIO) has not yet released a copy of the decision.

But last week, after the SC en banc where the petition for a Bill of Particulars of Enrile was voted on, the PIO immediately released the details about it despite the fact the SC decision has not been promulgated.

Sangandoy said Enrile would wait even if it would take a month to process his release.
“He told me he’ll just wait. If he was able to patiently wait for more than a year for his petition to be resolved, he could still wait even until a month,” he added.

There was no outrage in the ranks of lawmakers in connection with the SC decision to let Enrile post bail.

“It’s good that he will get out [on bail]. He’s a real asset. I am glad he is given the opportunity to regain his freedom,” Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., who has visited Enrile at least thrice during his detention, told reporters.

“We laud the compassion of the Supreme Court for giving Senator Enrile the chance to continue his legislative duties in the Senate after granting his temporary liberty. The ruling champions humane treatment, which he deserves,” Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said.

Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano 3rd said Enrile should really be given some relief since he has not been convicted for any offense.

“He deserves to be free again, temporarily, while the trial is going on because of his old age,” Albano added.


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1 Comment

  1. Bail is meant to insure that the accused shows up for trial and does not just run away. Who in their right mind would have denied bail to this 91 year old man for over a year. A bail hearing should be about the amount of bail, never about if bail should be granted. The law states the cases where bail is not applicable. People have a right to bail and not to be locked up before they are convicted of anything. Taking one year of freedom away from a ninety year old man by denying him bail is a criminal and repulsive act. He should have been able to be free on bail one day after he turned himself in. We have completely corrupted the bail system. We need to have it work like we are in a free country.