Why Enrile can escape imprisonment

by Lynda Jumilla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 15 2014 01:54 AM | Updated as of Feb 15 2014 09:54 AM

MANILA - As he turned 90 years old on Valentine's Day, Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile affirmed the distinction of being the oldest sitting senator in the country's history and the only nonagenarian in public office.

Former Rep. Jack Enrile told ABS-CBN News they had planned a quiet dinner with the family at a restaurant to mark this milestone in his father's colorful life.

But on the eve of his birthday, Enrile got a surprise party from his fellow minority members led by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada.

Enrile also received well-wishes from his fellow opposition leader, Vice-President Jejomar Binay.

The younger Estrada said it was videoke night, especially with Enrile's soprano-sisters Armida Siguion Reyna and Irma Potenciano around.

"I wish him all the best in life," Estrada said. I think he's strong and he can defend himself. He's one of the best lawyer in the country."

However, but Senator Estrada admits there was a tinge of sadness in the celebration, wich came amid allegations linking the two of them to the pork barrel scam.

Lawyer Harry Roque Jr. explained that while the law has humanitarian provisions for convicts 70 years old and above, those of the same age could still be detained while trial is ongoing.

"Meron pa ring detention habang dinidinig ng korte bagamat dito sa bayan natin napakalaki ng discretion ng huwes kung saan sila idi-detine," Roque said.

Roque, however, said the house arrest accorded former President Estrada and the hospital arrest now being given to former President Arroyo are precedents.

In the event of a conviction, a judge may recommend that the prison term be waived for those 70 years old and above. - ANC