Tuesday, August 25, 2015

IRONIES in the ENRILE Bail Bond Case

L to R: Justice Leonen, Justice Bersamin, Senator Enrile
I will deal with the IRONIES that personally touched me.

First, per Justice Lucas Bersamin, freeing Senator Enrile “upholds the fundamental human rights as well as value the dignity of every person” as provided for in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and enshrined in Section 11, Article II of the Philippine Constitution that states, “The State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights.
Isn’t this ironic? Enrile was the Martial Law Administrator during the darkest hours of our history. Together with Marcos they oversaw the sufferings endured by tens of thousands of Filipinos due to illegal detention (warrantless arrest, no bail, no charges and no trial policies), torture, killings, rape and other crimes. Not only did they fail to enforce and “uphold the fundamental rights as well as value the dignity of every person”, they have virtually violated almost all the principles underlying the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Now Enrile seeks human rights law protection!

Second, that Enrile deserves to be freed for health and humanitarian reasons. When Enrile was Martial Law Administrator, there were hundreds if not thousands of requests for release by prisoners due to failing health while illegally detained. Enrile and his staff without human compassion repeatedly and automatically denied these requests. According to some accounts by relatives of victims, many died without the benefit of adequate medical attention.

Ironically, Enrile now seeks the same remedy that he denied others during their hours of need.

Third, that Enrile’s petition for Certiorari be granted because Sandiganbayan “gravely abused its discretion” in denying the senator bail.

Sandiganbayan like any other trial court went through the regular judicial process. From the determination of probable cause, the existence of prima facie evidence, issuance of a warrant of arrest, detention of Enrile, to the giving orders for him to get adequate medical attention and, of course, the denial of Enrile’s application for bail for being premature and that of his motion for reconsideration. A hearing to determine whether the evidence is strong is still to be held. But Enrile went to the Supreme Court to seek JUSTICE. Lo and behold he found not just ONE JUSTICE but EIGHT accommodating JUSTICES as Justice Marvic Leonen claimed!

I found nothing in the ponencia that shows the Sandiganbayan gravely abused its discretion. On the contrary, it followed and continues to follow the proper judicial processes.
Fourth, that in denying Enrile bail, Sandiganbayan committed “whimsical and capricious excess of judgment as is equivalent to excess, or lack of jurisdiction.”

Determining the amount of bail is usually within the purview of the trial court or, in this case, Sandiganbayan. But Bersamin with the concurrence of seven others decided to determine the amount. According to reports, Bersamin first suggested that bail be P100,000, then changed it to P500,000 and finally, settled on P1,000,000.

Sandiganbayan relied on existing laws and well-settled jurisprudence in its judgments. In fact, there are known guidelines to this effect.

Ironically, Justice Bersamin looks like the one who sounded “whimsical and capricious” in his judgment in arriving at the right amount of the bail.

Isn’t it ironic that Enrile who is already worth millions and, in fact, accused of plundering over P170 million was initially asked to put up only P100,000 as bail by Justice Bersamin?

Fifth, the ponencia also claims that the Sandiganbayan gravely abused its discretion because it failed to recognize the objective of bail which is to guarantee the appearance of the accused (Enrile) during trial or at any instance when the court requires his presence.

The irony is that, as provided by the Constitution and the Rules of Court in cases where the penalty is reclusion perpetua and the evidence is strong, there is a greater guarantee of appearance by the accused during trial if there is no bail.

Sixth, Enrile alleges that he is presumed innocent until proven guilty.  During the entire process until briefly interrupted by the bail issue, the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan proceeded on this presumption. This is why a prima facie case was built to merit Enrile’s arrest, and preparations were made to show the strength of the evidence and to prove the guilt of Enrile beyond reasonable doubt. This was to negate that presumption.

Ironically, it was Enrile and his lawyers who actually claimed presumption of guilt when they prematurely asserted the mitigating circumstances of voluntary surrender and old age. These circumstances are usually considered during the sentencing process when the accused (Enrile) is already found guilty. They are presuming without necessarily admitting Enrile’s guilt. The prosecution may also assert aggravating circumstances if there are any at this sentencing stage.

Seventh, the ponencia asserted that Enrile’s poor health justifies his admission to bail. Dr. Jose Gonzales certified the medical condition without the benefit of direct and/or cross-examination. Justice Bersamin claims that the Sandiganbayan arbitrarily disregarded the health condition of Enrile.

The facts of the case seem to belie this claim. Enrile virtually lived at the Philippine National Police General Hospital during his entire detention. The Sandiganbayan issued a couple of orders authorizing the Director to allow the transfer of Enrile to a more adequate private or public medical facility in case of emergency or of medical necessity.

Furthermore, Enrile never asked for the granting of bail for health reasons. Neither do existing laws and jurisprudence allow medical reasons as grounds to obtain bail in cases involving capital offenses like plunder.

Yet, ironically, for failing to give what was not asked and for adhering to the law, the Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of discretion per Justice Bersamin.

Eighth, on Enrile, Justice Bersamin wrote this in his ponencia, “With his solid reputation in both his public and private lives, his long years of public service, and history’s judgment of him being at stake, he should be granted bail.”

In search of grounds other than those provided by law, the ponente found more to add – solid reputation, long years of public service, and history’s judgment being at stake.

I know a lot of people who would strongly disagree with Bersamin’s view. Officially recorded are tens of thousands of affidavits of Martial law victims and relatives claiming damages for their suffering. Enrile’s role in those critical times will not be ignored by history. Many of the victims and their descendants are writers who will not make the current and future generations forget.


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