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Cagayan governor seeks reversal of SC bail grant to Enrile

CAGAYAN, Philippines – Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba has asked the Office of the Ombudsman to seek the cancellation of the Supreme Court's bail grant to former senator Juan Ponce Enrile.

Mamba filed the plea before the Ombudsman after Enrile filed his certificate of candidacy to run for senator in the 2019 midterm elections. 

In a letter to Ombudsman Samuel Martires on Monday, October 22, Mamba said Enrile filed a petition for bail before the High Court, which was granted in August 2015, because of his health condition and advanced age.

"Seeking a seat in the Senate necessarily entails a nationwide campaign that even a healthy person will find strenuous,” Mamba said in his letter, co-written by former Buguey Mayor Ignacio Taruc, Mamba's vice gubernatorial tandem in 2019 elections.

“This only proves that Juan Ponce Enrile falsely appealed to the Supreme Court’s pity to gain the relief of bail. It means that he is not so 'ill' as to be incapable of flight, as the Supreme Court declared,” he added. 

Enrile was detained in 2014 for plunder and graft charges filed in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund scam, where he allegedly got kickbacks from channeling his PDAF to bogus nongovernmental organizations for ghost projects.

The Supreme Court granted him bail in 2015, arguing that the now 94-year old senator was entailed of a bail due to his poor health and old age. The Court said he was not considered a flight risk, and that it also considered his respect for the legal process, and his public service track record.

When he filed his candidacy, Enrile said he did not plan to physically campaign and would use social media instead.

Mamba's move should not come as a surprise as the former political allies had openly attacked each other. A Mamba-led political alliance toppled the decades-long leadership of the Enriles in Cagayan's first congressional district  during the 2016 elections. 

Enrile on Wednesday dismissed Mamba's plea to the Ombudsman.

"Only the judicial system can say whether they want me to go back to jail. If that governor [Mamba] can understand, I am presumed innocent until I am convicted by final judgment,” Enrile said.

The Office of the Ombudsman, then headed by Conchita Carpio Morales, had earlier appealed Enrile's bail grant citing preferential treatment for the former senator, but the SC upheld its ruling. – Rappler.com