Philippine basketball

Binay backs house arrest for ailing Enrile

Ayee Macaraig

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Binay backs house arrest for ailing Enrile
Binay says of Enrile: 'It’s another thing if you are outside and at home, especially for his age. Hospital arrest involves deprivation, right?'

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Jejomar Binay supported some lawmakers’ calls for the court to allow house arrest for his ailing ally, detained Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile.

A day after Enrile was transferred to the Makati Medical Hospital due to pneumonia, Binay said it will be best for the 91-year-old senator to be detained at home instead of at the Philippine National Police (PNP) General Hospital in Quezon City.

“The [police hospital] is just limited. It’s another thing if you are outside and at home, especially for his age. Hospital arrest involves deprivation, right? At least if you are at your own house, you are comfortable, and you can go where you want to go,” Binay said in an interview on Friday, February 27.

Binay added his voice to appeals of opposition senators for their leader to be allowed house arrest. Acting Senate Minority Leader Vicente Sotto III is considering filing a motion or resolution before the Senate to ask that Enrile be given house arrest.

It is the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan, not the Senate, that will decide on the matter as Enrile faces a plunder case over the pork barrel scam. He is accused of funneling development funds to fake non-governmental organizations in exchange for multi-million peso kickbacks.

The Vice President said he was able to talk to Enrile over the phone on Thursday, the same day the senator was rushed to the Makati hospital.

Like Enrile’s son, former Cagayan representative Juan Ponce “Jack” Enrile Jr, Binay said it appears that the elder Enrile is already recovering.

“He said he has fever but the way he was talking over the phone, it seems Manong is already okay,” said Binay, using Enrile’s nickname.

“I said, ‘That’s good, Manong.’ I said his voice sounded good,” added the Vice President.

Binay said he recently visited Enrile at the police hospital on February 8. He said Enrile then appeared to be in good health, and even looked younger in detention. 

“He said, ‘I have all the time reading, preparing for my case.’ So I was surprised to find out that he contracted pneumonia. It seems pneumonia is viral, and his immune system is weak due to his age. I was surprised that’s why I called him yesterday,” said Binay.

‘Let the court decide’

Enrile’s lawyers have been requesting for a house arrest for their client as early as July 2014, citing his age and previous illnesses like irregular heartbeat, hypertension, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and age-related macular degeneration. 

The senator’s counsels also requested that Enrile be transferred to a better equipped or “tertiary hospital,” saying the PNP hospital “does not have complete facilities and equipment.” Yet the Sandiganbayan ruled in September that Enrile continue to be detained at the police hospital.

The court, however, has a standing resolution that authorizes the PNP to move Enrile to a tertiary hospital when needed, which was the case on February 26.

In a report to the court on Friday, Enrile’s lawyers said he “contracted an additional illness from within the [PNP] hospital itself.”

“While Enrile continued to be detained at the PNP General Hospital, the hospital accepted several other patients, some having infectious diseases, with at least one particular patient having pneumonia. There were also visitors coming in and out of the hospital, for Enrile and other hospital patients,” stated the report of Enrile’s counsel Estelito Mendoza.

Despite calls from the senators’ allies for house arrest, Senator Francis Escudero said politicians should just leave the matter to the court.

“It is hard for the Senate to intervene. If one way or the other, the Senate as an institution says something, of course that is because he is our colleague. What will now stop the other accused from asking for the same treatment and same intervention from the Senate? People might say we are trying to influence the judge,” Escudero said on Thursday.

Besides Enrile, Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr are detained over the pork barrel scam but at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

A lawyer, Escudero said senators should just allow the defense teams of the accused to argue their case.

“Their lawyers are doing their job. Their lawyers are brilliant and famous. They have the capability to ask the court and the judge. If the Senate interferes, will the court grant the request just because we asked? That is also not right,” Escudero said. –


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