Cuevas: Being Enrile's ex-lawyer no big deal

by David Dizon,

Posted at Mar 01 2012 01:46 PM | Updated as of Mar 01 2012 11:54 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Former Supreme Court Associate Justice Serafin Cuevas admitted Thursday that he served as Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile's lawyer after a coup attempt against then President Cory Aquino in 1987.

Cuevas denied that his previous relationship with Enrile is an advantage for the defense in the ongoing impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona. Cuevas is Corona's lead defense counsel while Enrile is the presiding officer of the impeachment trial.

"I do not think I have an edge. He also overrules me many a times. Ang daming pending motions na talo kami and so on. I think he is doing what ought to be done under the situation not in any way bending what should be bended in our favor," he said.

Enrile, a former defense minister, was a key player in the EDSA revolt after he, Fidel Ramos and Gregorio Honasan decided to break away from the rule of President Ferdinand Marcos.

Enrile served as Cory Aquino's first defense secretary after the 1986 People Power revolt but resigned that same year. He was later elected senator in May 1987.

In August 1987, Honasan, supposedly with Enrile's backing, led a bloody coup attempt against Cory Aquino, which led to an attack on Cory's son, Benigno III, who is now the current President. Enrile was jailed in Camp Aguinaldo and slapped with "rebellion complexed with murder and multiple murder" charges after the coup attempt failed.

In the interview, Cuevas said he was removed from Supreme Court after then President Cory Aquino established a revolutionary government after the 1986 Revolution.

After the coup failed, Cuevas said he was asked by the senator if he could take his case. His decision to accept the case would later lead to Enrile's early release from jail.

"Pinakiusapan niya ako, ganito, ganito. I was a little bit hesitant dahil gobyerno na naman ang kalaban. The government here will be represented by Solicitor General (Frank) Chavez, who was my student in UP College of Law. If I beat him, kako that's usual - a professor beating a student. But if he knocks me out with a lucky punch, that would be catastrophic. I would not be back in the UP classrooms," he said.

Cuevas said he filed a petition for habeas corpus for Enrile because "there is no such crime as rebellion complexed with murder."

"Enrile, the lone minority senator is now detained, and he is detained pursuant to a warrant issued by Judge Salazar based on a complaint of rebellion complexed with murder and there is no such crime...No such animal," he said. The judge would later agree with Cuevas' argument and released Enrile.