Editorial: Enrile’s turn

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Monday, June 23, 2014


WITH Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada joining yesterday his friend, Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center after the Sandiganbayan issued a warrant for his arrest for plunder, all eyes are now on Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile.

Estrada and Revilla are much younger than the 90-year-old Enrile and are, admittedly, lesser lights than the veteran senator in the country’s politics. Thus, while Enrile is facing a non-bailable plunder case that is similar to what Estrada and Revilla are charged with, his motions could be more difficult to resolve if all angles are considered.

Enrile’s lawyers filed with the Sandiganbayan’s Third Division, which is hearing his case, an omnibus motion for bail claiming that the pieces of evidence against him are weak and citing his “poor and frail” physical condition. The tackling of the motion has thus sparked a discussion on whether he should be jailed.

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One may set aside the claim that the pieces of evidence against him in the plunder rap have no “probative value.” That argument can be considered in relation to what happened to the cases of Estrada and Revilla. The drift seems to be towards proceeding with the trial.

But Enrile’s health can be a legitimate concern. His illnesses, if the medical certificates he gave to the Sandiganbayan were to be believed, include, among others, diabetes, chronic hypertension, dyslipidemia and mild anemia. He is said to require constant medical attention and supposedly has 22 maintenance medicines.

The Third Division will have to look thoroughly at the truthfulness of this claim and into the condition of the detention cell being prepared for his incarceration. These should be weighed against the worry of some sectors that Enrile would be given special treatment by the court.

Special treatment has always been an issue for a public that has seen how cases involving “big fishes” unfurled. The healthy respondents would soon ride wheelchairs and petition for “medical arrest.”

In Cebu, murder convict Ruben Ecleo’s doctors claimed during trial that he was a “ticking time bomb” prompting the court to allow him to post bail. He jumped bail and vanished, his conviction rendered virtually useless.

These points make the coming Third Division decision on Enrile’s motion interesting.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 24, 2014.

Opinion

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