ROMUALDEZ BACKS HOUSE ARREST FOR JPE

PNoy in favor of ‘house arrest’ for Enrile

Published : Thursday, June 26, 2014 00:00

Article Views : 110

Speaker, independent minority bloc leader,other lawmakers back President’s stand

OPPOSITION and administration House leaders backed yesterday President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s position to place the 90-year-old Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile under house arrest despite public uproar on what they described as special treatment extended by the government to Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada.

House independent minority bloc leader and Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr., Parañaque City Rep. Gustavo Tambunting, Misamis Occidental Rep. Jorge Almonte, Akbayan party-list Walden Bello, and 1-BAP party-list Rep. Silvestre “Bebot” Bello III backed the proposal while Gabriela party-list Rep. Luz Ilagan vehemently opposed what she claimed as another special treatment that would only promote injustice.

Several senators are also in favor of giving consideration to Enrile once he’s arrested.

The lawmakers cited Enrile’s age as one of the reasons the authorities should not detain the former Senate president in the PNP custodial center.

Instead of detaining him, Senators Alan Peter Cayetao, Antonio Trillanes and Serge Osmeña said Enrile should be placed under hospital or house arrest.

Senator JV Ejercito said Enrile cannot bear the hot temperature inside the custodial center.

They also believed that Enrile will face his charges and will never attempt to escape.

Earlier, Senator Grace Poe said she is hoping that the Sandiganbayan will approve the petition of Enrile’s camp to post bail.

Enrile’s lawyers argued that the senator’s age and health condition should be considered in resolving their petition.

“The proposal for house or hospital arrest is worth considering given the age of former Senate President Enrile. But at the end of the day, it is the court that will decide,” said Romualdez, a lawyer.

Enrile allegedly pocketed P172 million in pork barrel funds through commissions and kickbacks in conspiracy with other respondents.

Given the age of Enrile, Belmonte, a lawyer, said “I support house or hospital arrest for Senator Enrile.”

Tambunting said, “Senator Enrile is already 90 years old. No 90-year-old person should be put in jail. Prisoners 70 years old and above are already given priority for parole in this country. What more someone who is 90?”

Almonte, a lawyer and who chairs the House committee on public information, said “if granted by the Sandiganbayan court, not out of the opinion of the President but on its exercise of jurisdiction, then it is consistent with due process. Hospital arrest under that procedure should be accorded with due respect.”

But Ilagan rejected the idea, saying the court should be sensitive to people’s sentiment who criticized the government for extending special treatment to Revilla and Estrada who are detained now at the Philippine National Police (PNP) custodial center in Camp Crame, Quezon City, instead of Quezon City Jail.

“Why is he jumping the gun? First thing first, let JPE be arrested first and if there is a request for such an arrest, only then should that request be granted by the courts, not by the President. Justice is blind, isn’t she?,” she said.

In further defense of Enrile, Walden Bello, who chairs the House committee on overseas workers affairs, stressed “we don’t want detention to be a death warrant for Senator Enrile.”

“He is a super senior citizen, and jail conditions might be too arduous for him,” he explained.

Bebot Bello, a lawyer and former justice secretary during the Ramos administration, also agreed to place Enrile under house arrest.

He also used the opportunity to appeal to President Aquino to also support house arrest for former President-turned-Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) due to plunder case.Ryan Pacpaco/Marlon Purificacion

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