Reflections on the SC Decision to Grant Sen. Enrile Bail and His Freedom to Play Bejeweled in Senate

The Purpose of This Reflection, What It Is and What It's Not

It's been almost 2 months since the 8 to 4 majority decision to grant Enrile to post 1 million pesos bail. I was compelled to revisit and share my two cents on the matter as I read a report that he's back on the Senate floor playing his favorite mobile game Bejeweled during the hearing last Wednesday.

Please understand that I do not question his innocence and grant that he should be presumed such until proven otherwise. Second, I have nothing against his preference for mobile games -- it is merely an incidental anecdote that compelled me to pursue this reflection. Finally, given that I am not a legal expert and I am yet to familiarize myself with the procedural rules of court (ie. of the Sandiganbayan, etc.), for all intents and purposes, this reflection humbly seeks the following objectives:
  • To familiarize myself and be able to quickly explain important points in Sen. Enrile's petition for bail
  • To join in and promote the dissenting opinion of Justice Leonen regarding the SC ruling to grant this petition and make my focus NOT limited to his arguments against the petition and focus more on his narrative of how this SC ruling came to be. And...
  • To provide my own perspective or opinion on matters or interpretations that I find to be very different from how Justice Leonen positioned his dissenting opinion.
 Both (1) The Supreme Court ruling (source: and (2) Justice Leonen's dissenting opinion on the matter (source: are available online for your reference.

An Era About To Usher In?

Allow me to express my personal difference on the matter before we continue to study the ruling and the dissenting opinion.

Perhaps it is due to formality, but I feel strongly that J. Leonen's fear that this Supreme Court ruling will set precedent for and usher in an era of  "special accommodation" or "selective justice" are misnomers. Yes, it puts pressure on all lower courts when faced with a similar petition for bail that was granted for Enrile by our highest court but this formal citation or precedent is not necessary to have special accommodation and the discretion of selective justice. These are already prevalent. In fact, his narrative of how this ruling came to be showcases some fraudulent behavior and sketchy decision-making / procedures.

Let us keep in mind that no high courts found difficulty in allowing Erap Estrada, already found guilty of this exact same case Enrile is accused of, to be mayor of Manila as he was given executive pardon. There is no surprise here. Many dangerous precedents may already be cited, perhaps most informally, regarding special accommodation or selective justice in our courts. I find it pretentious to say this kind of era is just about to usher in.

Nonetheless, it is very courageous and intellectual. At the same time, it's not hard to speculate, not just with the 4 who dissented but with all justices if any intent comes from their oath and moral obligation to the public or made due to necessary political favors and alliance.

It's something to really reflect on as the elections come because the successor of PNoy will have the power to appoint 11 justices. It's not about to usher in due to this grant of bail, we've been living in an era of special accommodation and selective justice.

Nonetheless, I am compelled to study and share what I learn here as this case shows the power and importance of dissent. The unsatisfactory justice system around us is not an excuse to just accept that justice has a price and a privilege for those who can afford it. It is even more reason for us to support specific instances such as J. Leonen's dissenting opinion as these kinds do not warn of dangerous precedents but rather expose the status quo.

The Arguments For and Against His Petition for Bail

Our laws allow for courts to grant bail for those accused UNLESS (i) the offense may be punishable by life imprisonment and (ii) there is strong evidence of guilt. Enrile argues that the prosecution has failed to provide evidence for both points.

  • J. Leonen asserts that Sandiganbayan's "muteness" is due to Enrile's repeated challenge for the prosecution to provide evidence where Enrile must [first] formally apply for, the formal proceedings (“bail hearing”) before the prosecution may be called upon to discharge its duty of proving evidence of guilt is strong." The denial of bail, therefore, was not in grave abuse of discretion as the motion for bail was premature. Also, the delay on the end of the prosecution, he alleged, comes from Enrile's repeated challenge to be shown any single piece of paper that links him to even a single peso received from the alleged kick-backs.  
He also cites social standing and even cited past charges of rebellion and murder where he was granted bail based on not being a flight risk. He asserts this further by citing his old age and ill-health. And being that he cited that the purpose of bail was merely for the accused to appear at trial whenever required, he argued that there should be judicial discretion in assessing humanitarian reasons for granting him bail.

  • Leonen argued the Sandiganbayan never failed to accommodate Enrile's medical concerns, as guided by the law, nor were these health concerns part of his motion for bail and, allegedly, even the petition to the SC itself as the drafts the Justices previously deliberated was revised to add these health or "humanitarian" reasons when it was already time for the Justices to vote.
  • What kind of fraudulent and immoral behavior is that, especially coming from what is supposed to be the highest court of our land to randomly change final drafts at the last second when time to vote? Again, not being familiar with the procedural rules, but will there be no investigation nor anyone held accountable for something I believe to be such a low form of cheating/trickery to advance special interest?
  • And yes, I insinuated selective justice to be common practice already but how many would you think  of those charged of multiple murder, multiple incestuous rape, serious illegal detention, and other crimes punishable by life imprisonment will now be empowered to cite this Supreme Court ruling in their petitions for bail? 
The majority decision found the arguments that supported Enrile's claims and citations above as sufficient to grant him bail. The decision was 8 to 4, with 1 justice on official leave, 1 on sick leave, 1 who chose to not take part, and over 100 million Filipinos who will fear injustice as justice is an expensive privilege available only to those with money and power.

I hope it is true, that saying of masamang damo, matagal mamatay because as the trial continues, with his old age and health, he might not live to face his verdict and spend the remainder of his life enjoying his favorite mobile games and not spend it in jail like those who don't have his influence for this kind of special accommodation.

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