The Supreme Court (SC) has rejected an appeal of the government against the granting of bail to Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile over plunder charges in connection with the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
It reached the decision in its en banc deliberations on Tuesday via a 7-6 vote.
SC Justice Francis Jardeleza took no part in the case since he handled the same when he was still the Solicitor General.
The SC stuck to its earlier ruling to favor the “grand old man of the Senate” for his freedom and dismissed a motion for reconsideration filed by the Office of the Ombudsman, through the Office of the Solicitor General.
Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin was the ponente of this ruling.
“The majority stated that the people were not kept in the dark about nor were they denied a reasonable opportunity to rebut the instability of his health and his advanced age even if these were not raised in the motion for bail,” the High Court noted, referring to Entile.
It pointed out that there is no truth that Enrile was given preferential treatment because he is a senator.
Rather, his plea was granted “due to [Enrile’s] health condition, which was sufficiently proven.”
Justice Marvic Leonen leads the 6-man group of dissenters, along with Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Justices Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Mariano del Castillo and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa.
The SC in August 2015 set Enrile free from prison for humanitarian considerations, citing the Universal Declaration of Human Right.
“Nonetheless, in granting the petition for certiorari, the court is guided by the earlier mentioned principal purpose of bail, which is to guarantee the appearance of the accused at the trial, or whenever so required by the court. The court is also mindful of the Philippines’ responsibility in the international community arising from the national commitment under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” it said.
The tribunal also considered Enrile’s age, social and political standing and respect for the rule of law.
Also according to the SC, the senator is not a flight risk.
“We also do not ignore that at an earlier time many years ago when he had been charged with rebellion with murder and multiple frustrated murder, he already evinced a similar personal disposition of respect for the legal processes, and was granted bail during the pendency of his trial because he was not seen as a flight risk. With his solid reputation in both his public and his private lives, his long years of public service, and history’s judgment of him being at stake, he should be granted bail,” it pointed out.