Why PNP won’t release Enrile’s mugshots

Bea Cupin

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Why PNP won’t release Enrile’s mugshots
The PNP approves Senator Juan Ponce Enrile's request to keep his mugshots and all photos of the booking procedure confidential
SURRENDER. Senator Juan Ponce Enrile waves to the media waiting outside the PNP Multipurpose Center ahead of booking procedures for his surrender. Photo by Joel Laporada/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – He’s innocent until proven guilty, well-recognized, and is not a threat to the public.

Those were the 3 arguments presented by Senator Juan Ponce Enrile through his lawyers in a request to keep confidential “any such ‘mug shot’ or photograph of the booking process… or its taking altogether.”

In a Friday, July 4 letter addressed to Philippine National Police (PNP) Criminal Investigation and Detention Group (CIDG) chief Police Director Bejamin Magalong, Enrile through his lawyers said “a ‘mug shot,’ or any photograph taken during the booking process, should merely be used for record and identification purposes.” 

His camp also said releasing the mugshots would “tend to sway public opinion against the subject.” “Publication and proliferation of these ‘mug shots’ would just intensify the wave of prejudicial publicity against the subject,” they added.

The PNP agreed to Enrile’s appeal, PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac said in a briefing with reporters held right after Enrile’s booking procedures.

Signatories to the letter are lawyers Eleazar B. Reyes, Joseph Sagandoy, Jr., and Erwin G. Matib from the Ponce Enrile Reyes and Manalastas law offices. Copy furnished in the letter are PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima and Sindac.

Enrile surrendered on Friday after the 3rd division of anti-graft court Sandiganbayan ordered his arrest in connection with graft and plunder charges filed against him by the Ombudsman. Enrile, along with Senators Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada, are accused of stealing millions of pesos in pork barrel through fake projects and bogus non-governmental organizations.

Also covered by the orders of arrest are Enrile’s former chief of staff Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes; alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles, already detained in Laguna; John Raymond de Asis, who served as Napoles’ driver-bodyguard; and Ronald John Lim, nephew of Napoles.

Enrile underwent booking procedures at the PNP Multipurpose Center inside police headquarters Camp Crame.  

‘Cruel, degrading or inhuman’

Enrile’s request comes after the surrender of Revilla and Estrada stirred controversy over the non-release and release of their mugshots.

Mugshot of Senator Jinggoy Estrada as leaked to the media

Revilla’s mugshot was not released by the PNP while Estrada’s mugshot was leaked to the media. Only photographs of Revilla’s booking process were distributed by the PNP Public Information Office.

The PNP’s policy on releasing mugshots to the media is unclear. They aren’t required by law to release mugshots to the public and only do so when authorized by superiors. 

A handout photo released by the Philippine National Police Public Information Office on 20 June 2014 shows Filipino senator Ramon Bong Revilla Jr during the booking procedure. Photo from the PNP PIO

Enrile’s camp argued that mugshots are usually used as a means for eyewitnesses, victims or investigators to identify arrested persons or those who’ve escaped detention.

Releasing Enrile’s mugshots to the media given the circumstances – his surrender, his status as a public figure, and the fact that he’s not been convicted – “would just expose the subject to ‘cruel, degrading or inhuman’ punishment,” his camp argued, citing Section 9(1) of Article II of the Constitution.

The 90-year-old Enrile is under temporary hospital arrest at the PNP General Hospital inside Camp Crame. Although he did not complain of any ailments during the booking process, the PNP’s doctors reported a heart murmur during his physical and medical examination.

Enrile’s blood pressure was high during the exam, at 200 over 90.

He will be under “further observation” over the weekend. The PNP is set to return his arrest warrant on Monday, July 7, after which Sandiganbayan will issue a commitment order that will determine where Enrile will be detained while his trial is ongoing.

Read the full letter as released to the media by the PNP:

– Rappler.com

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.