MANILA (Mabuhay) — Senator Juan Ponce Enrile is in high spirits on the day of his expected release from hospital detention, his lawyer said Wednesday.
In an interview, Atty. Eleazar Reyes said Enrile, 91, has prepared his belongings at the Philippine National Police (PNP) General Hospital in order to be ready for a trip to the Sandiganbayan to pay his bail from plunder.
Reyes said Enrile’s lawyers have also camped out in the Sandiganbayan on Wednesday, a holiday, to wait for a copy of the Supreme Court decision granting Enrile bail, and the produce order to present Enrile in court.
“Uuwi na (He’s going home), his family is waiting for him… He’s in very high spirits,” Reyes said.
Reyes said Enrile, upon his release, wanted to immediately report to the Senate tomorrow.
“He’s really into law,” Reyes said.
Reyes said Enrile wanted to participate in the Senate plenary discussions of the proposed Bangsamoro basic law (BBL).
He could not confirm if Enrile would deliver a privilege speech after his one year of hospital detention.
Reyes said he expects the Supreme Court in its decision to take note of Enrile’s defense that he is frail and cannot possibly be a flight risk.
He added that the conditions to allow an accused to post bail from plunder, a non-bailable offense, are if the evidence against the accused is weak and if the penalty is not reclusion perpetua.
Enrile argued that he could not be possibly convicted to life imprisonment because of mitigating circumstances such as his age and frail health, Reyes said.
Voting 8-4, the Supreme Court on Tuesday granted Enrile’s motion to reverse the Sandiganbayan Third Division’s ruling denying his bail plea.
The decision came exactly a week after the SC sided with Enrile’s request for bill of particulars in his plunder case over his alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.
The Sandiganbayan Third Division opened its doors on Wednesday even on Quezon City Day, a non-working holiday, to accommodate Enrile’s bail from plunder, ordinarily a non-bailable offense.
The Supreme Court set the bail amount from plunder at P1 million. On top of the P30,000 bail for each of his 15 graft charges, Enrile is set to pay a total amount of P1.45 million.
Enrile went to the Supreme Court after the Sandiganbayan Third Division last year denied his motion that he be allowed to post bail.
He surrendered to the police July 4, 2014, just days after he was charged for plunder. He was eventually committed to hospital detention because of his frail health.
In his 70-page petition for certiorari filed Sept. 4, 2014, Enrile said he should be allowed to post bail since the prosecution failed to present strong evidence against him and that the charges “cannot be considered a capital offense.”
At the same time, Enrile said he is not a “flight risk considering that he even voluntarily surrendered to the authorities when the warrant for his arrest was issued by the anti-graft court.”
He also cited his advanced age as another reason for the SC to grant his petition.
Enrile is under hospital detention while his chief of staff Atty. Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes is detained at the female dormitory of Camp Bagong Diwa as they face plunder and 15 counts of graft for their alleged involvement in the purported scheme of pilfering the senator’s Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) to ghost projects for kickbacks.
According to the financial records of principal whistleblower Benhur Luy, Enrile received P172.8 million in kickbacks from Napoles, who referred to Enrile as “Tanda” in the use of codenames for the alleged scam.
The witnesses had also testified that they personally saw Napoles hand over Enrile’s kickbacks to his alleged agent Ruby Tuason.
State witness Tuason, a socialite and social secretary of former President Joseph Estrada, has said she delivered kickbacks for Enrile from Napoles through Enrile’s chief of staff Reyes over lunch meetings in posh restaurants.
Tuason said Enrile sometimes fetched Reyes and invited them for coffee after these supposed lunch meetings.
Accused mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles is serving life sentence for the serious illegal detention of her entrusted financial officer Luy, who turned against her when he was detained over suspicions he was starting his own scam. (MNS)