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Enrile vs. Sandiganbayan (Third Division), GR 213847, 18 August 2015
The Office of the Ombudsman charged Enrile, 90 years of age, and several others with plunder in the Sandiganbayan on the basis of their purported involvement in the diversion and misuse of appropriations under the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). Upon voluntary surrender, Enrile filed his Motion for Detention at the PNP General Hospital, and his Motion to Fix Bail. Enrile claims that before judgment of conviction, an accused is entitled to bail as matter of right; that it is the duty and burden of the Prosecution to show clearly and conclusively that Enrile comes under the exception and cannot be excluded from enjoying the right to bail; that the Prosecution has failed to establish that Enrile, if convicted of plunder, is punishable by reclusion perpetua considering the presence of two mitigating circumstances – his age and his voluntary surrender; that the Prosecution has not come forward with proof showing that his guilt for the crime of plunder is strong; and that he should not be considered a flight risk taking into account that he is already over the age of 90, his medical condition, and his social standing. In its Comment, the Ombudsman contends that Enrile’s right to bail is discretionary as he is charged with a capital offense; that to be granted bail, it is mandatory that a bail hearing be conducted to determine whether there is strong evidence of his guilt, or the lack of it; and that entitlement to bail considers the imposable penalty, regardless of the attendant circumstances.
Whether or not Enrile is entitled to Bail.
Yes, Enrile is entitled to bail as a matter of right based on humanitarian grounds.For his social and political standing and his having immediately surrendered to the authorities upon his being charged in court indicate that the risk of his flight or escape from this jurisdiction is highly unlikely. His personal disposition from the onset of his indictment for plunder, formal or otherwise, has demonstrated his utter respect for the legal processes of this country. We also do not ignore that at an earlier time many years ago when he had been charged with rebellion with murder and multiple frustrated murder, he already evinced a similar personal disposition of respect for the legal processes, and was granted bail during the pendency of his trial because he was not seen as a flight risk. With his solid reputation in both his public and his private lives, his long years of public service, and history’s judgment of him being at stake, he should be granted bail.