'SC stretched self too far to accommodate Enrile'

Posted at Aug 25 2015 12:29 PM | Updated as of Aug 25 2015 09:13 PM

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MANILA - A constitutional expert is backing the opinion of Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen that the High Court "stretched itself too far" in order to accommodate the bail petition of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile.

Atty. Rudyard "Sonny" Avila admitted that there is something not quite right with the decision that allows Enrile to go free on bail on the basis of humanitarian consideration when there are other elderly, sick prisoners who remain in jail.

"Wala po tayong nakikita sa Constitution and rules of court that gives this kind of accommodation, which is for humanitarian reason. If we are a country that sticks to the rule of law, there is something not quite right about this decision of the Philippine Supreme Court," he told radio DZMM.

"Justice Leonen was simply calling a spade a spade," he added.

The Supreme Court recently granted the bail petition of Enrile, who is facing graft and plunder charges over the pork barrel scam. The SC cited humanitarian grounds as basis for granting the 91-year-old senator's petition.

In the decision penned by Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin, the high court ruled that the Sandiganbayan Third Division committed grave abuse of discretion in junking Enrile's bail petition through its resolutions dated July 14, 2014 and August 8, 2014.

However, the dissenting associate justices and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima scored the eight magistrates who favored Enrile's petition, with some of them saying this could set a precedent.

Avila noted that Bersamin is the same ponente who allowed the Judicial and Bar Council to entertain the idea that Renato Corona could be appointed Chief Justice within the 2010 election ban.

"These are the same 8 justice who concurred with that decision," he said.

He said the SC decision was only "overturned" when Corona was impeached and removed from office.

Avila said the SC decision on Enrile's bail could set a precedent, noting that there should be judicial consistency in similar cases.

He also said it would be interesting to see the SC's discussion on Leonen's dissent that the revised draft decision which was circulated on August 14, 2015 was not read by the majority of the justices who joined the Bersamin ponencia.