Senate divided on Enrile house arrest

by Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 02 2015 05:04 PM | Updated as of Mar 03 2015 01:04 AM

MANILA - One of the allies of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile called on the Senate to seek house arrest for the detained lawmaker, citing his old age and fragile health.

Enrile has been on hospital arrest at the PNP General Hospital on plunder and graft charges in connection with the pork barrel scam. He was rushed to the Makati Medical Center last week due to pneumonia.

In a speech on Monday, Sotto asked that a resolution “expressing the sense of the Senate or at least some of its members be passed and ask the proper authority to exercise its judicial compassion and allow Senator Enrile to be detained at his residence in Makati.”

“Under present circumstances, justice is no less diminished should Senator Juan Ponce Enrile be detained at his residence in Makati. He is not a flight risk, and neither is he intending to be one,” said Sotto, the chamber’s acting minority leader.

“I am not here to plead for mercy. Senator Enrile has not been convicted. I simply want to rely on our operating principle that innocence is presumed.”

Sotto's request has been referred to the committee on rules chaired by Enrile’s critic, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano.

Other senators believe, however, that the Senate need not step in on the issue of house arrest for Enrile, who was Senate minority leader before he was detained.

“Sa ngayon hindi ko pa naman naiisip na dapat gano’n (For now I don’t think that should be done),” said Senator Grace Poe. “Para sa akin, mismo dapat ang doktor doon sa Crame ang magsabi kung ano ang pinakamabuting paraan para siya ay gumaling (For me, it should be the doctor at Camp Crame who should say what the best way for his recovery).”

Senator Sonny Angara said the issue is a matter of “judicial prerogative."

“At the end of the day, talagang Sandiganbayan lang ang magde-desisyon diyan (Only the Sandiganbayan will decide on that),” he told reporters.