Editorial: The Enrile situation

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Monday, July 7, 2014


THE Sandiganbayan finally ordered Friday the arrest of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile for the plunder and graft cases he is facing. The senator is 90 years old and is suffering from a variety of ailments. Naturally, the dilemma presented to the anti-graft court involves the matter of jailing.

Resolving the dilemma wouldn’t have been a problem had this situation cropped up a few decades back. But the public has seen enough of cases where moneyed respondents use health as an excuse to evade detention in ordinary jails. Hospital arrest is now synonymous with special treatment.

A high-profile example is former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whose neck ailment, described as “life threatening” by her lawyers, ensured she wouldn’t have to spend time inside a regular detention cell.

The case of parricide convict Ruben Ecleo Jr. is even worse: the court allowed him to post bail after his lawyer and a doctor described him as a “walking time bomb” because of his heart ailment. He promptly jumped bail and still has yet to serve jail time after his conviction.

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Because of these cases, the two conflicting lines that the Sandigayan has to deal with have become more compelling: one line wants the senator to be placed in an ordinary detention cell because plunder is a serious offense; the other line is for humane treatment of the senator.

But Enrile’s advanced age and the medical certificates that his legal counsels are waving make treating his case like those of ordinary prisoner less of an option. The matter that needs to be defined now is the kind of leniency that he will be accorded with. Should he stay in a more comfortable jail facility where his doctors are allowed easy access to or should his request for hospital arrest be granted?

Interestingly, the attention given to Enrile contrasts heavily with that of his co-respondent in the plunder and graft cases, his former chief of staff Lucila “Gigi” Reyes. Chances are she would end up in a regular jail. She reportedly broke down when, after her surrender Friday, she was brought to a cell without an electric fan or air conditioning unit.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 08, 2014.

Opinion

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