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Ombudsman to SC: Bail for Juan Ponce Enrile mocks justice

Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile. File photo/ERNIE PEÑAREDONDO

MANILA, Philippines - In granting bail to Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, the Supreme Court (SC) paints “a picture of injustice, inequality, partiality and preference,” the Office of the Ombudsman said yesterday.

Based on this argument, prosecutors led by Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur  Carandang have asked  the SC to reverse its Aug. 18 decision.

“It makes a mockery of justice,” read the   motion for reconsideration. “It confirms to our very kababayans that a different kind and quality of justice indeed applies to the rich and powerful.”

The motion for reconsideration was filed last Friday, the last day for the filing of the motion, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales told reporters at the Senate.

“There were three main reasons,” she said.

“We were wondering why they had to grant the petition because the ground given by the court was not even considered by the Sandiganbayan or by Enrile himself. He hasn’t raised that. He has raised that fragile state of health and his motion to be confined in a hospital but not in a motion to file bail or petition for bail.” 

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The other ground for the motion for reconsideration is the violation of the equal protection of the law clause under the Constitution, Morales said.

“That special favor that they gave to the senator should also be given and has not been given to any Tom, Dick and Harry that was in a similar situation before,” she said.

The filing of the motion for reconsideration just so happened to be “analogous” or similar to the dissenting opinion of Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen and was not necessarily “parroting it,” Morales said.

Prosecutors said the SC must correct its decision granting bail to the 91-year-old lawmaker and resolve the case with “unquestionable impartiality, undisputed fairness and unassailable wisdom.”

“The decision granting bail to petitioner was premised on a factual finding that he is not a flight risk, on a determination that he suffers from a fragile state of health, and on other unsupported grounds unique and personal to him,” they said.

“In granting bail to petitioner on the foregoing grounds, the decision unduly and radically modified constitutional and procedural principles governing bail without sufficient constitutional, legal and jurisprudential basis.”

The SC’s decision “openly ignored and abandoned the constitutionally mandated procedure for determining whether a person accused of a crime punishable by reclusion perpetua such as plunder can be granted bail,” prosecutors said.

Enrile’s actions disproves the SC decision granting him bail on grounds that he is not a flight risk and is of frail health, they added.

Enrile “reports for duty with strength and vitality, exhibiting none of the weaknesses and frailty” that he claims to be suffering, prosecutors said.

Granting temporary freedom to Enrile despite being charged with plunder is contrary to the strict requirements of the Constitution, prosecutors said.

“The decision 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,” they said.

“The decision gave preferential treatment and undue favor to petitioner in a manner inconsistent with the equal protection clause of the 1987 Constitution.” 

Prosecutors described Enrile as “nothing less than a towering figure in our country’s history,” whose criminal case involves “nothing less than one of the biggest and high-profile corruption cases in recent years.”

“Equality before the law is an elusive ideal, but it will always be an ideal worth pursuing,” they said.

Prosecutors have also filed a motion for reconsideration assailing the SC decision granting Enrile’s motion for a bill of particulars.

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