MANILA (UPDATE 1) - Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile was rushed to the hospital over the weekend before the Department of Justice filed a complaint against him and other lawmakers linked to the P10 billion pork barrel scam.
Sen. Tito Sotto, a fellow minority member, confirmed Enrile was rushed to the hospital early Saturday morning because of high blood pressure. He is not sure, however, whether Enrile was confined.
Former congressman Jack Enrile said his father was brought to the Makati Medical Center early Saturday morning after the latter complained of difficulty in urinating.
"As a result, his blood pressure became elevated," a statement from Enrile said.
The senator was supposed to be discharged Monday afternoon but doctors advised him to stay for another day for observation.
Enrile is one of three senators who are facing a plunder complaint for allegedly funneling millions of pesos in pork barrel funds to fake non-governmental organizations set up by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.
A Commission on Audit special report earlier confirmed that the 3 senators alloted their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to Napoles-linked NGOs from 2007-2009.
Sotto said there is no need for the three senators to take a leave of absence.
Asked about the effect of the complaints on the minority, he said: "We'll see how it goes. Sinubmit pa lang naman e di pa nagfafile ng kaso... we'll see how the Ombudsman will assess (the evidence presented)."
Meanwhile, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said senators charged with plunder over the pork barrel scam should be automatically suspended.
She said that under the 1991 Anti-Plunder Act, when the Ombudsman files plunder charges in court, the accused shall be automatically suspended from office.
"This means that the senators and representatives implicated as persons of interest shall be suspended from Congress while trial is pending," she said in a statement.
Santiago contradicted an earlier statement by Senate President Franklin Drilon that the implicated senator can only be suspended after conviction.
Santiago, a constitutional law expert, also said that a provision cited by Drilon was not contained in the Constitution, but only in the Senate Rules.
She said that Drilon's statements suffered from "doctrinal confusion."
Santiago quoted the Anti-Plunder Act, Sec. 5: "Suspension and Loss of Benefits. - Any public officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information under this Act in whatever stage of execution and mode of participation, is pending in court, shall be suspended from office."
She said that there is no constitutional provision that senators can be suspended only by the Senate.
"That provision is not found in the Constitution, but only in the Senate Rules. While under the Anti-Plunder Act, suspension is mandatory as indicated by the word 'shall' in the Senate Rules suspension is merely permissive, as indicated by the use of the word 'may,'" she said.
Santiago quoted the Senate Rules, Rule 34, Sec. 97: "Upon the recommendation of the Committee on Ethics and Privileges, the Senate may punish any Member for disorderly behaviour and, with the concurrence of two-thirds (2/3) of the entire membership, suspend or expel a Member. A penalty of suspension shall not exceed sixty (60) calendar days."
She said she was compelled to issue her statement, in order to stand by her similar statement made during a speech before some 1,000 students attending a national conference at SMX Convention Center last September 9.
Last Sunday, September 15, a major daily quoted Drilon as saying that "even if they are criminally charged before the Ombudsman, the senators cannot be suspended until they are convicted."