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Law gives Enrile leeway to be freed on bail – lawyer

MANILA, Philippines – Unlike others charged with plunder over the pork barrel scam, 90-year-old senator Juan Ponce Enrile may be freed on bail.

This is according to veteran litigator Estelito "Titong" Mendoza, Enrile's legal counsel, who argued during the anti-graft court's hearing Tuesday, July 8, that two mitigating circumstances work in his client's favor.

The court heard oral arguments on Enrile's motion to fix bail. (READ: Enrile asks anew for temporary liberty)

Mendoza cited his client's age and his voluntary surrender as factors that lower Enrile's punishment by one degree. 

Once lowered, and absent any aggravating circumstance, Enrile's case should be punishable by reclusion temporal or 12 to 20 years of imprisonment only, instead of reclusion perpetua or more than 30 years of imprisonment.

Crimes punishable by reclusion temporal are bailable.

Mendoza was referring to Article 13 of the Revised Penal Code, which outlines the circumstances which mitigate criminal liability. 

Among those outlined are: that the offender is under 18 years of age or over 70; that there was no intent to commit the crime; that the offender voluntarily surrendered to authorities or pleaded not guilty before the presentation of evidence; that the offender is disabled or has a physical defect restricting his means to communicate with others; that he acted upon impulse so powerful to have produced passion or obfuscation, among others.

Although bad of hearing and already assisted by someone else typing what others in court were saying, Mendoza calmly argued before the justices of the 3rd division. The 3rd division is hearing the cases of Enrile and his co-accused.

The prosecution was given a day to reply to Enrile's motion to fix bail and the defense another day to reply to the prosecution's opposition. After both are filed in court, the motion is deemed submitted for resolution.

Enrile is accused of knowingly and financially gaining from allowing his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to fund bogus projects of dubious non-governmental organizations linked to alleged mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles. – Rappler.com