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Enrile asks SC: Annul Sandigan order denying bail

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Juan Ponce Enrile once again sought the intervention of the Supreme Court (SC) in the plunder case he is facing before the Sandiganbayan in relation to the pork barrel scam.

In a 70-page petition dated September 4, Enrile questioned the decision of the Sandigabayan Third Division not to grant his petition to post bail. He said the plunder charge against him “cannot even be considered a capital offense” for bail to be denied.

“The prosecution failed to show clearly and conclusively that Enrile, if ever he would be convicted, is punishable by reclusion perpetua; hence, Enrile is entitled to bail as a matter of right,” the petition said.

He said that the practice of detaining a person charged with a capital offense before the bail hearing even with no evidence presented against him is “clearly wrong, even unconstitutional.”

He added that he is not a flight risk, and that his advanced age and voluntary surrender should be considered in deciding his petition to post bail. The 90-year-old senator surrendered to authorities shortly after the anti-graft court issued a warrant for his arrest on July 4.

“Considering the undisputed presence of two mitigating circumstances (advanced age and voluntary surrender), the prescribed penalty, under the plunder law, is only reclusion temporal, thus automatically entitling Enrile to post bail,” the petition stated.

The detained senator also asked the High Court to expedite the proceedings, and to set his case for oral arguments.

Enrile earlier petitioned for bail in relation to his case before the Sandiganbayan, but the anti-graft court stated in a July 14 resolution that the senator’s petition was baseless.

He filed a motion for reconsideration, which was again denied on August 8, with the Sandigabayan stating: “No amount of legal hermeneutics can justify accused Enrile’s insistence that the court should already grant him bail pending the prosecution’s presentation of its evidence showing proof evident of his guilt.” (READ: Why Enrile's bail efforts were to no avail)

Enrile faces plunder and graft charges due to his alleged diversion of P172 million ($3.92 million)* worth of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to ghost projects of bogus non-governmental organizations controlled by Janet Lim Napoles.

The senator first filed a petition before the Supreme Court on August 7 to temporarily halt the proceedings in his case at the Sandiganbayan. This was after the anti-graft court refused to grant his request to be provided by the prosecution details of the plunder charges filed against him. – Rappler.com