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‘Neither illegal nor unfair’


Eight members of the Supreme Court decided to grant former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile bail.  While many legal scholars have lauded the decision, wags, with contemptible alacrity, have grumbled about "selective justice" and "favors for the rich".

I wonder: Had bail been granted a 91-year old farmer charged with a crime punishable by reclusion perpetua, would there have been strenuous objections?  So, it seems that the protest is directed not really at the justness of the decision, but because it is Enrile involved.  

Now, really, discrimination against the rich is no less discrimination.  If it were alright to shrug off the just claims of the wealthy, should would anyone be desirous of prosperity at all?

It does our institutions, particularly our courts, no good to suggest that those who voted for Enrile's temporary liberty were being deferential to his wealth.  The argument Senator Enrile had advanced was sound: Where bail is not available as a matter of right, it can be denied only after it has been determined that evidence of guilt is strong.

In the case filed against Senator Enrile, there has as yet been no determination that the evidence against him is strong—this, being possible only after the prosecution presents its evidence, which it has not yet finished doing so.  

What legal basis then is there for denial of bail?  Liberty is as precious a commodity to a wealthy many like Enrile, as it is to any of us.

And, was it not 'selective justice' to prosecute him and Revilla and Estrada first (and with such expeditiousness!) and later on march to a funeral cadence in respect to the prosecution of administration allies?

Even assuming that the prime consideration for the favorable decision was Enrile's advanced age, that, too, is a legal consideration.  It taxes credulity abusively to slur the conviction of eight justices as perverse and hail the dissent alone as righteous!

In many cases of truly transcendental significance before the US Supreme Court, it has happened more than once that a majority of one alone caused the enunciation of doctrine. And Americans had good sense enough not to insult their justices! -NB, GMA News

Fr. Ranhilio Aquino is the dean of the San Beda Graduate School of Law.


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