MANILA - What is so special about Senator Juan Ponce Enrile that he should be given special treatment while elderly prisoners rot in regular jails?
This is the cry of the Scrap Pork Network, which has been mounting street protests to remove the pork barrel system in the wake of the P10 billion pork barrel scam.
Atty. Michelle Estor, a government employee and member of the network, said the group is seeking equal treatment for all people accused of a crime without giving special privileges to those in power.
"How many old people have died in detention cells? Did we hear anything about giving them air-conditioners? Of course it is natural for them to get medical treatment but what makes Senator Enrile different that he cannot stay in a regular jail?" she said in a radio DZMM interview.
Estor said it was Enrile himself who said that he remains strong and healthy after getting stem cell treatments. She said the senator even mentioned that he is ready to die in jail.
"Is that all drama?" she asked.
The lawyer said the application of humanitarian consideration only applies to those who are convicted of a crime and that mitigating circumstances are for those adjudged guilty and not those to be detained.
What is more irksome, she said, is that giving special treatment to Enrile and the other detained senators only shows that preferential treatment is still given to the rich.
"Hanggang kulungan ba naman nandun pa rin ang hierarchy, ang pananaig ng mayaman at mahirap? They are all accused of thievery but one is asking for TV and airconditioning," she said.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) earlier said a specific hospital room will be assigned for Enrile inside the PNP General Hospital once he is ordered arrested.
Enrile is facing plunder and graft charges before the Sandiganbayan for his alleged links to the pork barrel scam.
Pictures taken by ABS-CBN reporter Chiara Zambrano showed two possible rooms in the PNP General Hospital where Enrile could be staying.
The first room measures 3 meters by 3 meters, with a toilet separated only by a divider.
It has no aircon and only one small window (with bars) providing ventilation.
The room is commonly used for detainees with medical needs.
The second room, a specialty ward, is where ailing PNP officials are confined.
It measures 3 meters by 4 meters, has a bathroom and shower, an oxygen tank, and a large glass window.
The room is airconditioned.
It is not officially a detention room, and there are no bars on its windows.