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MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – Detained senator Juan Ponce Enrile was granted bail by the Supreme Court on Tuesday, August 18.
Voting 8-4, the High Tribunal gave its nod to Enrile’s petition, sources in the High Court said. Dissenters were Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Associate Justices Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Marvic Leonen.
Enrile has been asked to post a bond of P1 million. (READ: Timeline: Enrile and the pork barrel scam)
SC Spokesman Theodore Te said the detained senator’s petition was granted “subject to the terms and conditions to be specified by the Court in its Order which will be forthcoming.” He did not elaborate.
In a phone patch interview on ANC, the senator’s daughter, businesswoman Katrina Ponce Enrile, said: “I think my family became definitely closer and stronger because all of this. We’re just thankful that he’s coming home.”
Enrile and senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr are accused of diverting development funds to fake non-governmental organizations allegedly controlled by Janet Lim-Napoles in exchange for multi-million peso kickbacks.
In September 2014, Enrile accused the Sandiganbayan’s 3rd Division of “grave abuse of discretion” when it issued the July 2014 resolution denying his motion to fix bail. (READ: Why Enrile’s bail efforts were to no avail)
In his petition, Enrile argued he is not a flight risk, and that the prosecution has not established strong evidence of guilt to deny him bail. He also said the court should consider his advanced age and voluntary surrender.
Last week, the SC granted his request for a bill of particulars, which provides details of the plunder charges against him.
Enrile earlier petitioned for bail in July 2014, but it was dismissed as “baseless” by the Sandiganbayan. His motion for reconsideration was again denied in August.
Malacañang said that despite the ruling, “government is determined to pursue its anti-corruption campaign in a sustained manner.”
“We shall leave it up to the Office of the Ombudsman as an independent and separate body of the government, to undertake the necessary action with regards to the High Court’s decision,” said Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma.
The Senate expects Enrile to return to work on Monday.
Not a flight risk
In a February 2015 reply to the November 2014 comment filed by prosecutors, Enrile noted that the prosecutors’ arguments on why he should not be granted bail centered on two things: that his right to bail is discretionary, not a matter of right; and that his right to bail is determined by the penalty provided by law.
But the senator said that the prosecutors “curiously never refuted, and thus perhaps conceded as true” his argument that because he is not a flight risk, bail may be granted in his case.
“That Enrile is a non-flight risk is an altogether separate ground for the grant of bail. The Supreme Court has, in the past, allowed various defendants, charged with capital offenses, to post bail upon determination that they are not flight risks,” his comment read.
He added that in 1990, the SC allowed him to post bail even if he was then charged with a capital offense – rebellion with murder and multiple frustrated murder – considering “that the likelihood of [Enrile] fleeing from or evading the processes of our courts appears fairly remote.”
The senator argued that this also applies to his current case, and even more so because he has “considerably aged and physically weakened.”
Plunder is punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment. But in his case, Enrile argued that this will not apply to him even if he is convicted, because two mitigating circumstances could lower his punishment: his advanced age and his voluntary surrender. – Rappler.com