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Sereno backs Leonen dissent on Juan Ponce Enrile bail

(The Philippine Star) - August 27, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno concurs with Associate Justice Marvic Leonen’s dissenting opinion on the majority ruling granting bail to Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile.

She agrees with Leonen without qualification, Sereno told a press forum yesterday.

“It’s an unqualified concurrence with the dissent,” she said.

She also supports the allegations of Leonen against Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin, who had written the decision.

Sereno and Leonen are both appointees of President Aquino and former colleagues at the University of the Philippines’ College of Law.

The disagreement between Leonen and Bersamin is “normal” in the Supreme Court (SC), Sereno said.

“There’s a misimpression on the part of some that sharp disagreements should be avoided at all costs,” she said. “It is part of normal load work that we have.” 

Sereno sees no reason for her to work for the reconciliation of the two justices. It is not her duty to reconcile them, she added.

She would not discuss further the case of Enrile as a motion for reconsideration could be filed, Sereno said.

The SC ruling could benefit detained former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, retired  Sandiganbayan presiding justice Edilberto Sandoval told the Usaping Balita forum at the Serye restaurant in Quezon City.

“The former president can invoke the Enrile ruling in her bail appeal pending with the high court,” he said. “Just like in the case of Senator Enrile, the Supreme Court could free her on humanitarian grounds.         

“Granting bail on humanitarian grounds to a person accused of an offense or offenses where bail is not available is not in the Constitution, but the high tribunal has the discretion to do it.”

Enrile and Arroyo are both facing plunder cases before the Sandiganbayan.

The Sandiganbayan had denied Arroyo’s petition for bail, but she has appealed the decision to the SC, Sandoval said.

“Just like Senator Enrile, it is obvious that she’s sick and she is not a flight risk,” he said.

Arroyo might have been a flight risk before, but the risk of flight in her case now is almost nil, Sandoval said.

He was referring to the time when Justice Secretary Leila de Lima stopped Arroyo and her husband from boarding a plane at the airport when she was facing an election sabotage case.

After failing to get the Sandiganbayan to free her on bail, Arroyo filed a petition for house arrest, which is still pending.

He does not believe that Janet Lim-Napoles and Sens. Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. would benefit from the SC ruling, Sandoval said in response to questions.

“It’s obvious that there is no humanitarian reason to grant them bail,” he said. “As to whether they are flight risks, I don’t know.” 

It is “far-fetched” that all the  accused in the pork barrel cases could invoke the Enrile ruling in asking for bail, Sandoval said.

In his dissenting opinion, Leonen said it was surprising that the majority of eight justices approved the revision of Bersamin’s draft decision.

In previous deliberations, the debate centered on two mitigating circumstances in Enrile’s plunder case – his advanced age at the time of commission of the alleged crime and his voluntary surrender – that would determine whether the penalty could be lowered, he added.

ACIRC ASSOCIATE JUSTICE LUCAS BERSAMIN ASSOCIATE JUSTICE MARVIC LEONEN BAIL ENRILE LEONEN NBSP SANDIGANBAYAN SANDOVAL SENATOR ENRILE SUPREME COURT
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