Too old and sick to be jailed but perfectly fit to run as a senator?
In August of 2015, former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, detained for plunder in connection with pork barrel scam, was allowed by the Supreme Court to post bail.
Plunder, under the law, is supposedly a non-bailable offense.
The government prosecutors from the Office of the Ombudsman appealed the ruling but the same was denied on July of 2016.
Aside from citing Enrile’s purported past and present disposition to respect legal processes and the fact the he is not a flight risk, the highest court of the land considered his advanced age and poor health.
In short, the former defense minister and chief martial law implementor of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos was granted temporary liberty on humanitarian grounds.
“To ignore his advanced age and unstable health condition in order to deny his right to bail on the basis alone of the judicial discretion to deny bail would be probably unjust,” the court ratiocinated.
Yesterday, the 94-year old lawyer pulled off a surprise when he filed through his lawyer a certificate of candidacy (COC) for senator. It was unexpected because before he filed his COC, his name is not being mentioned as one of the possible candidates for next year’s poll.
Enrile confirmed his planned political comeback with some media entities last night where he shrugged off criticisms as to his fitness to perform the tasks of a sitting senator.
“All I can say is physically, I am fit to serve. Mentally, I am more than fit to serve,” Enrile confidently declared.
So which is which?
What we got here is a person who was able to convince the so-called intellectual giants of the Supreme Court that he is so frail, weak and vulnerable to be able to stay behind bars but is strong and healthy enough to endure the rigid demands of a nationwide political campaign.
What we have here is a someone who was able to persuade the Gods of Padre Faura that he is in a fragile and debilitated state to be able to survive deprivation of liberty while his plunder charge is being heard but announces to the whole world in his usual arrogant way that he is physically and mentally fit to perform the duties of a senator.
It is undeniable that Enrile was accorded special and preferential treatment when he was allowed to post bail for a non-bailable offense.
But with his latest act of joining the electoral derby, the rationale used by the majority of the justices in order to justify the granting of provisional liberty to Enrile will no longer hold water.
Moreover, being a mere privilege and an exception to the general rule, the bail given to Enrile can be revoked or forfeited anytime.
If Enrile is fit to campaign as senator, to sit as senator if he wins, then he is definitely fit to be incarcerated while his plunder case is being tried. No more special treatment for this lying, remorseless crook.
It is high time that Enrile, with all his crimes against the Filipino people and his sins to the nation, be put in his right place. Not in the august hall of the Senate but to languish in jail just like the ordinary detention prisoners accused with a grave offense.