The decision whether to detain or release an accused before and during trial is ultimately an incident of the judicial power to hear and determine his criminal case. The strength of the Prosecution’s case, albeit a good measure of the accused’s propensity for flight or for causing harm to the public, is subsidiary to the primary objective of bail, which is to ensure that the accused appears at trial.1
Before the Court is the petition for certiorari
filed by Senator Juan Ponce Enrile to assail and annul the resolutions dated July 14, 20142
and August 8, 20143
issued by the Sandiganbayan (Third Division) in Case No. SB-14-CRM-0238, where he has been charged with plunder along with several others. Enrile insists that the resolutions, which respectively denied his Motion To Fix Bail
and his Motion For Reconsideration
, were issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.chanrobleslaw
On June 5, 2014, the Office of the Ombudsman charged Enrile and several others with plunder in the Sandiganbayan on the basis of their purported involvement in the diversion and misuse of appropriations under the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).4
On June 10, 2014 and June 16, 2014, Enrile respectively filed his Omnibus Motion5
and Supplemental Opposition
praying, among others, that he be allowed to post bail should probable cause be found against him. The motions were heard by the Sandiganbayan after the Prosecution filed its Consolidated Opposition
On July 3, 2014, the Sandiganbayan issued its resolution denying Enrile’s motion, particularly on the matter of bail, on the ground of its prematurity considering that Enrile had not yet then voluntarily surrendered or been placed under the custody of the law.8
Accordingly, the Sandiganbayan ordered the arrest of Enrile.9
On the same day that the warrant for his arrest was issued, Enrile voluntarily surrendered to Director Benjamin Magalong of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Camp Crame, Quezon City, and was later on confined at the Philippine National Police (PNP) General Hospital following his medical examination.10
Thereafter, Enrile filed his Motion for Detention at the PNP General Hospital
and his Motion to Fix Bail
both dated July 7, 2014, which were heard by the Sandiganbayan on July 8, 2014.13
In support of the motions, Enrile argued that he should be allowed to post bail because: (a) the Prosecution had not yet established that the evidence of his guilt was strong; (b) although he was charged with plunder, the penalty as to him would only be reclusion temporal
, not reclusion perpetua
; and (c) he was not a flight risk, and his age and physical condition must further be seriously considered.
On July 14, 2014, the Sandiganbayan issued its first assailed resolution denying Enrile’s Motion to Fix Bail
, disposing thusly:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
x x x [I]t is only after the prosecution shall have presented its evidence and the Court shall have made a determination that the evidence of guilt is not strong against accused Enrile can he demand bail as a matter of right. Then and only then will the Court be duty-bound to fix the amount of his bail.
To be sure, no such determination has been made by the Court. In fact, accused Enrile has not filed an application for bail. Necessarily, no bail hearing can even commence. It is thus exceedingly premature for accused Enrile to ask the Court to fix his bail.
x x x x
Accused Enrile next argues that the Court should grant him bail because while he is charged with plunder, “the maximum penalty that may be possibly imposed on him is reclusion temporal, not reclusion perpetua.” He anchors this claim on Section 2 of R.A. No. 7080, as amended, and on the allegation that he is over seventy (70) years old and that he voluntarily surrendered. “Accordingly, it may be said that the crime charged against Enrile is not punishable by reclusion perpetua, and thus bailable.”
The argument has no merit.
x x x x
x x x [F]or purposes of bail, the presence of mitigating circumstance/s is not taken into consideration. These circumstances will only be appreciated in the imposition of the proper penalty after trial should the accused be found guilty of the offense charged. x x x
x x x x
Lastly, accused Enrile asserts that the Court should already fix his bail because he is not a flight risk and his physical condition must also be seriously considered by the Court.
Admittedly, the accused’s age, physical condition and his being a flight risk are among the factors that are considered in fixing a reasonable amount of bail. However, as explained above, it is premature for the Court to fix the amount of bail without an anterior showing that the evidence of guilt against accused Enrile is not strong.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, accused Juan Ponce Enrile’s Motion to Fix Bail dated July 7, 2014 is DENIED for lack of merit.
On August 8, 2014, the Sandiganbayan issued its second assailed resolution to deny Enrile’s motion for reconsideration filed vis-à-vis the July 14, 2014 resolution.15
Enrile raises the following grounds in support of his petition for certiorari
- Before judgment of the Sandiganbayan, Enrile is bailable as a matter of right. Enrile may be deemed to fall within the exception only upon concurrence of two (2) circumstances: (i) where the offense is punishable by reclusion perpetua, and (ii) when evidence of guilt is strong.
x x x x
- The prosecution failed to show clearly and conclusively that Enrile, if ever he would be convicted, is punishable by reclusion perpetua; hence, Enrile is entitled to bail as a matter of right.
x x x x
- The prosecution failed to show clearly and conclusively that evidence of Enrile’s guilt (if ever) is strong; hence, Enrile is entitled to bail as a matter of right.
x x x x
At any rate, Enrile may be bailable as he is not a flight risk.16
Enrile claims that before judgment of conviction, an accused is entitled to bail as matter of right; that it is the duty and burden of the Prosecution to show clearly and conclusively that Enrile comes under the exception and cannot be excluded from enjoying the right to bail; that the Prosecution has failed to establish that Enrile, if convicted of plunder, is punishable by reclusion perpetua
considering the presence of two mitigating circumstances – his age and his voluntary surrender; that the Prosecution has not come forward with proof showing that his guilt for the crime of plunder is strong; and that he should not be considered a flight risk taking into account that he is already over the age of 90, his medical condition, and his social standing.
In its Comment
the Ombudsman contends that Enrile’s right to bail is discretionary as he is charged with a capital offense; that to be granted bail, it is mandatory that a bail hearing be conducted to determine whether there is strong evidence of his guilt, or the lack of it; and that entitlement to bail considers the imposable penalty, regardless of the attendant circumstances.chanrobleslaw
Ruling of the Court
The petition for certiorari
Bail protects the right of the accused to due process and to be presumed innocent
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved.18
The presumption of innocence is rooted in the guarantee of due process, and is safeguarded by the constitutional right to be released on bail,19
and further binds the court to wait until after trial to impose any punishment on the accused.20
It is worthy to note that bail is not granted to prevent the accused from committing additional crimes.21
The purpose of bail is to guarantee the appearance of the accused at the trial, or whenever so required by the trial court. The amount of bail should be high enough to assure the presence of the accused when so required, but it should be no higher than is reasonably calculated to fulfill this purpose.22
Thus, bail acts as a reconciling mechanism to accommodate both the accused’s interest in his provisional liberty before or during the trial, and the society’s interest in assuring the accused’s presence at trial.23
Bail may be granted as a matter of right or of discretion
The right to bail is expressly afforded by Section 13, Article III (Bill of Rights) of the Constitution, viz
x x x All persons, except those charged with offenses punishable by reclusion perpetua when evidence of guilt is strong, shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient sureties, or be released on recognizance as may be provided by law. The right to bail shall not be impaired even when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended. Excessive bail shall not be required.
This constitutional provision is repeated in Section 7, Rule 11424
of the Rules of Court, as follows:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Section 7. Capital offense or an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, not bailable. — No person charged with a capital offense, or an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, shall be admitted to bail when evidence of guilt is strong, regardless of the stage of the criminal prosecution.
A capital offense in the context of the rule refers to an offense that, under the law existing at the time of its commission and the application for admission to bail, may be punished with death.25
The general rule is, therefore, that any person, before being convicted of any criminal offense, shall be bailable, unless he is charged with a capital offense, or with an offense punishable with reclusion perpetua
or life imprisonment, and the evidence of his guilt is strong. Hence, from the moment he is placed under arrest, or is detained or restrained by the officers of the law, he can claim the guarantee of his provisional liberty under the Bill of Rights, and he retains his right to bail unless he is charged with a capital offense, or with an offense punishable with reclusion perpetua
or life imprisonment, and the evidence of his guilt is strong.26
Once it has been established that the evidence of guilt is strong, no right to bail shall be recognized.27
As a result, all criminal cases within the competence of the Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court in Cities, or Municipal Circuit Trial Court are bailable as matter of right because these courts have no jurisdiction to try capital offenses, or offenses punishable with reclusion perpetua
or life imprisonment. Likewise, bail is a matter of right prior to conviction by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) for any offense not punishable by death, reclusion perpetua
, or life imprisonment, or even prior to conviction for an offense punishable by death, reclusion perpetua
, or life imprisonment when evidence of guilt is not strong.28
On the other hand, the granting of bail is discretionary: (1) upon conviction by the RTC of an offense not punishable by death, reclusion perpetua
or life imprisonment;29
or (2) if the RTC has imposed a penalty of imprisonment exceeding six years, provided none of the circumstances enumerated under paragraph 3 of Section 5, Rule 114 is present, as follows:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
That he is a recidivist, quasi-recidivist, or habitual delinquent, or has committed the crime aggravated by the circumstance of reiteration;
That he has previously escaped from legal confinement, evaded sentence, or violated the conditions of his bail without valid justification;
That he committed the offense while under probation, parole, or conditional pardon;
That the circumstances of his case indicate the probability of flight if released on bail; or
That there is undue risk that he may commit another crime during the pendency of the appeal.
Admission to bail in offenses punished
by death, or life imprisonment, or reclusion
perpetua is subject to judicial discretion
For purposes of admission to bail, the determination of whether or not evidence of guilt is strong in criminal cases involving capital offenses, or offenses punishable with reclusion perpetua
or life imprisonment lies within the discretion of the trial court. But, as the Court has held in Concerned Citizens v. Elma
“such discretion may be exercised only after the hearing called to ascertain the degree of guilt of the accused for the purpose of whether or not he should be granted provisional liberty.” It is axiomatic, therefore, that bail cannot be allowed when its grant is a matter of discretion on the part of the trial court unless there has been a hearing with notice to the Prosecution.31
The indispensability of the hearing with notice has been aptly explained in Aguirre v. Belmonte, viz
x x x Even before its pronouncement in the Lim case, this Court already ruled in People vs. Dacudao, etc., et al. that a hearing is mandatory before bail can be granted to an accused who is charged with a capital offense, in this wise:
The respondent court acted irregularly in granting bail in a murder case without any hearing on the motion asking for it, without bothering to ask the prosecution for its conformity or comment, as it turned out later, over its strong objections. The court granted bail on the sole basis of the complaint and the affidavits of three policemen, not one of whom apparently witnessed the killing. Whatever the court possessed at the time it issued the questioned ruling was intended only for prima facie determining whether or not there is sufficient ground to engender a well-founded belief that the crime was committed and pinpointing the persons who probably committed it. Whether or not the evidence of guilt is strong for each individual accused still has to be established unless the prosecution submits the issue on whatever it has already presented. To appreciate the strength or weakness of the evidence of guilt, the prosecution must be consulted or heard. It is equally entitled as the accused to due process.
x x x x
Certain guidelines in the fixing of a bailbond call for the presentation of evidence and reasonable opportunity for the prosecution to refute it. Among them are the nature and circumstances of the crime, character and reputation of the accused, the weight of the evidence against him, the probability of the accused appearing at the trial, whether or not the accused is a fugitive from justice, and whether or not the accused is under bond in other cases. (Section 6, Rule 114, Rules of Court) It is highly doubtful if the trial court can appreciate these guidelines in an ex-parte determination where the Fiscal is neither present nor heard.
The hearing, which may be either summary or otherwise, in the discretion of the court, should primarily determine whether or not the evidence of guilt against the accused is strong. For this purpose, a summary hearing means: –chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
x x x such brief and speedy method of receiving and considering the evidence of guilt as is practicable and consistent with the purpose of hearing which is merely to determine the weight of evidence for purposes of bail. On such hearing, the court does not sit to try the merits or to enter into any nice inquiry as to the weight that ought to be allowed to the evidence for or against the accused, nor will it speculate on the outcome of the trial or on what further evidence may be therein offered or admitted. The course of inquiry may be left to the discretion of the court which may confine itself to receiving such evidence as has reference to substantial matters, avoiding unnecessary thoroughness in the examination and cross examination.33cralawlawlibrary
In resolving bail applications of the accused who is charged with a capital offense, or an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua
or life imprisonment, the trial judge is expected to comply with the guidelines outlined in Cortes v. Catral
- In all cases, whether bail is a matter of right or of discretion, notify the prosecutor of the hearing of the application for bail or require him to submit his recommendation (Section 18, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court, as amended);
- Where bail is a matter of discretion, conduct a hearing of the application for bail regardless of whether or not the prosecution refuses to present evidence to show that the guilt of the accused is strong for the purpose of enabling the court to exercise its sound discretion; (Section 7 and 8, supra)
- Decide whether the guilt of the accused is strong based on the summary of evidence of the prosecution;
- If the guilt of the accused is not strong, discharge the accused upon the approval of the bailbond (Section 19, supra) Otherwise petition should be denied.
Enrile’s poor health justifies his admission to bail
We first note that Enrile has averred in his Motion to Fix Bail
the presence of two mitigating circumstances that should be appreciated in his favor, namely: that he was already over 70 years at the time of the alleged commission of the offense, and that he voluntarily surrendered.35
Enrile’s averment has been mainly uncontested by the Prosecution, whose Opposition to the Motion to Fix Bail
has only argued that –chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
- As regards the assertion that the maximum possible penalty that might be imposed upon Enrile is only reclusion temporal due to the presence of two mitigating circumstances, suffice it to state that the presence or absence of mitigating circumstances is also not consideration that the Constitution deemed worthy. The relevant clause in Section 13 is “charged with an offense punishable by.” It is, therefore, the maximum penalty provided by the offense that has bearing and not the possibility of mitigating circumstances being appreciated in the accused’s favor.36
Yet, we do not determine now the question of whether or not Enrile’s averment on the presence of the two mitigating circumstances could entitle him to bail despite the crime alleged against him being punishable with reclusion perpetua
simply because the determination, being primarily factual in context, is ideally to be made by the trial court.
Nonetheless, in now granting Enrile’s petition for certiorari
, the Court is guided by the earlier mentioned principal purpose of bail, which is to guarantee the appearance of the accused at the trial, or whenever so required by the court. The Court is further mindful of the Philippines’ responsibility in the international community arising from the national commitment under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
x x x uphold the fundamental human rights as well as value the worth and dignity of every person. This commitment is enshrined in Section II, Article II of our Constitution which provides: “The State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights.” The Philippines, therefore, has the responsibility of protecting and promoting the right of every person to liberty and due process, ensuring that those detained or arrested can participate in the proceedings before a court, to enable it to decide without delay on the legality of the detention and order their release if justified. In other words, the Philippine authorities are under obligation to make available to every person under detention such remedies which safeguard their fundamental right to liberty. These remedies include the right to be admitted to bail.38cralawlawlibrary
This national commitment to uphold the fundamental human rights as well as value the worth and dignity of every person has authorized the grant of bail not only to those charged in criminal proceedings but also to extraditees upon a clear and convincing showing: (1) that the detainee will not be a flight risk or a danger to the community; and (2) that there exist special, humanitarian and compelling circumstances.39
In our view, his social and political standing and his having immediately surrendered to the authorities upon his being charged in court indicate that the risk of his flight or escape from this jurisdiction is highly unlikely. His personal disposition from the onset of his indictment for plunder, formal or otherwise, has demonstrated his utter respect for the legal processes of this country. We also do not ignore that at an earlier time many years ago when he had been charged with rebellion with murder and multiple frustrated murder, he already evinced a similar personal disposition of respect for the legal processes, and was granted bail during the pendency of his trial because he was not seen as a flight risk.40
With his solid reputation in both his public and his private lives, his long years of public service, and history’s judgment of him being at stake, he should be granted bail.
The currently fragile state of Enrile’s health presents another compelling justification for his admission to bail, but which the Sandiganbayan did not recognize.
In his testimony in the Sandiganbayan,41
Dr. Jose C. Gonzales, the Director of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), classified Enrile as a geriatric patient who was found during the medical examinations conducted at the UP-PGH to be suffering from the following conditions:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Chronic Hypertension with fluctuating blood pressure levels on multiple drug therapy; (Annexes 1.1, 1.2, 1.3);
||Diffuse atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease composed of the following:
Previous history of cerebrovascular disease with carotid and vertebral artery disease; (Annexes 1.4, 4.1)
Heavy coronary artery calcifications; (Annex 1.5)
Ankle Brachial Index suggestive of arterial calcifications. (Annex 1.6)
Atrial and Ventricular Arrhythmia (irregular heart beat) documented by Holter monitoring; (Annexes 1.7.1, 1.7.2)
Asthma-COPD Overlap Syndrom (ACOS) and postnasal drip syndrome; (Annexes 2.1, 2.2)
||Age-related mascular degeneration, neovascular s/p laser of the Retina, s/p Lucentis intra-ocular injections; (Annexes 3.0, 3.1, 3.2)
||S/p Cataract surgery with posterior chamber intraocular lens. (Annexes 3.1, 3.2)
|| Historical diagnoses of the following:
|| High blood sugar/diabetes on medications;
||High cholesterol levels/dyslipidemia;
||Upper gastrointestinal bleeding (etiology uncertain) in 2014;
||Benign prostatic hypertrophy (with documented enlarged prostate on recent ultrasound).42
Dr. Gonzales attested that the following medical conditions, singly or collectively, could pose significant risks to the life of Enrile, to wit: (1) uncontrolled hypertension, because it could lead to brain or heart complications, including recurrence of stroke; (2) arrhythmia, because it could lead to fatal or non-fatal cardiovascular events, especially under stressful conditions; (3) coronary calcifications associated with coronary artery disease, because they could indicate a future risk for heart attack under stressful conditions; and (4) exacerbations of ACOS, because they could be triggered by certain circumstances (like excessive heat, humidity, dust or allergen exposure) which could cause a deterioration in patients with asthma or COPD.43
Based on foregoing, there is no question at all that Enrile’s advanced age and ill health required special medical attention. His confinement at the PNP General Hospital, albeit at his own instance,44
was not even recommended by the officer-in-charge (OIC) and the internist doctor of that medical facility because of the limitations in the medical support at that hospital. Their testimonies ran as follows:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
x x x x
The question is, do you feel comfortable with the continued confinement of Senator Enrile at the Philippine National Police Hospital?
No, Your Honor.
Director, doctor, do you feel comfortable with the continued confinement of Senator Enrile at the PNP Hospital?
No, Your Honor.
Because during emergency cases, Your Honor, we cannot give him the best.
x x x x
At present, since you are the attending physician of the accused, Senator Enrile, are you happy or have any fear in your heart of the present condition of the accused vis a vis the facilities of the hospital?
Yes, Your Honor. I have a fear.
That you will not be able to address in an emergency situation?
Your Honor, in case of emergency situation we can handle it but probably if the condition of the patient worsen, we have no facilities to do those things, Your Honor.45
x x x x
Bail for the provisional liberty of the accused, regardless of the crime charged
, should be allowed independently of the merits of the charge
, provided his continued incarceration is clearly shown to be injurious to his health or to endanger his life. Indeed, denying him bail despite imperiling his health and life would not serve the true objective of preventive incarceration during the trial.
Granting bail to Enrile on the foregoing reasons is not unprecedented. The Court has already held in Dela Rama v. The People’s Court
x x x This court, in disposing of the first petition for certiorari, held the following:
x x x [U]nless allowance of bail is forbidden by law in the particular case, the illness of the prisoner, independently of the merits of the case, is a circumstance, and the humanity of the law makes it a consideration which should, regardless of the charge and the stage of the proceeding, influence the court to exercise its discretion to admit the prisoner to bail;47 x x xConsidering the report of the Medical Director of the Quezon Institute to the effect that the petitioner “is actually suffering from minimal, early, unstable type of pulmonary tuberculosis, and chronic, granular pharyngitis,” and that in said institute they “have seen similar cases, later progressing into advance stages when the treatment and medicine are no longer of any avail;” taking into consideration that the petitioner’s previous petition for bail was denied by the People’s Court on the ground that the petitioner was suffering from quiescent and not active tuberculosis, and the implied purpose of the People’s Court in sending the petitioner to the Quezon Institute for clinical examination and diagnosis of the actual condition of his lungs, was evidently to verify whether the petitioner is suffering from active tuberculosis, in order to act accordingly in deciding his petition for bail; and considering further that the said People’s Court has adopted and applied the well-established doctrine cited in our above-quoted resolution, in several cases, among them, the cases against Pio Duran (case No. 3324) and Benigno Aquino (case No. 3527), in which the said defendants were released on bail on the ground that they were ill and their continued confinement in New Bilibid Prison would be injurious to their health or endanger their life; it is evident and we consequently hold that the People’s Court acted with grave abuse of discretion in refusing to release the petitioner on bail.48cralawlawlibrary
x x x x
It is relevant to observe that granting provisional liberty to Enrile will then enable him to have his medical condition be properly addressed and better attended to by competent physicians in the hospitals of his choice. This will not only aid in his adequate preparation of his defense but, more importantly, will guarantee his appearance in court for the trial.
On the other hand, to mark time in order to wait for the trial to finish before a meaningful consideration of the application for bail can be had is to defeat the objective of bail, which is to entitle the accused to provisional liberty pending the trial. There may be circumstances decisive of the issue of bail – whose existence is either admitted by the Prosecution, or is properly the subject of judicial notice – that the courts can already consider in resolving the application for bail without awaiting the trial to finish.49 The Court thus balances the scales of justice by protecting the interest of the People through ensuring his personal appearance at the trial, and at the same time realizing for him the guarantees of due process as well as to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Accordingly, we conclude that the Sandiganbayan arbitrarily ignored the objective of bail to ensure the appearance of the accused during the trial; and unwarrantedly disregarded the clear showing of the fragile health and advanced age of Enrile. As such, the Sandiganbayan gravely abused its discretion in denying Enrile’s Motion To Fix Bail. Grave abuse of discretion, as the ground for the issuance of the writ of certiorari, connotes whimsical and capricious exercise of judgment as is equivalent to excess, or lack of jurisdiction.50 The abuse must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, or to act at all in contemplation of law as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion or hostility.51
WHEREFORE, the Court GRANTS the petition for certiorari; ISSUES the writ of certiorari ANNULING and SETTING ASIDE the Resolutions issued by the Sandiganbayan (Third Division) in Case No. SB-14-CRM-0238 on July 14, 2014 and August 8, 2014; ORDERS the PROVISIONAL RELEASE of petitioner Juan Ponce Enrile in Case No. SB-14-CRM-0238 upon posting of a cash bond of P1,000,000.00 in the Sandiganbayan; and DIRECTS the immediate release of petitioner Juan Ponce Enrile from custody unless he is being detained for some other lawful cause.
No pronouncement on costs of suit.
Sereno, C. J., I join the Dissent of J. Leonen.
Velasco, Jr., J., Leonardo-De Castro, Brion, Perez, and Mendoza, JJ., concur.
Carpio, J., I join the Dissent of J. Leonen.
Peralta, J., for humanitarian reasons.
Del Castillo, J., I concur in the result based on humanitarian grounds.
Villarama, Jr., J., on official leave.
Reyes, J., on sick leave.
Perlas-Bernabe, J., I joint the dissent of J. Leonen.
Leonen, J., I dissent, see separate opinion.
Jardeleza, J., no part, prior OSG action.
1 See Ariana Lindermayer, What the Right Hand Gives: Prohibitive Interpretations of the State Constitutional Right to Bail, Fordham Law Review, Vol. 78, Issue 1 (2009), pp. 307-309.
2Rollo, pp. 79-88; penned by Associate Justice Amparo M. Cabotaje-Tang, and concurred in by Associate Justice Samuel R. Martires and Associate Justice Alex L. Quiroz.
3 Id. at 89-102.
4 Id. at 107-108.
5 Id. at 103-157.
6 Id. at 163-192.
7 Id. at 193-221.
8 Id. at 222-241.
9 Id. at 241.
10 Id. at 242-243.
11 Id. at 244-247.
12 Id. at 249-256.
13 Id. at 13.
14 Id. at 84-88.
15 Id. at 89-102.
16 Id. at 16-19.
17 Id. at 526-542.
18 Section 14, (2), Article III of the 1987 Constitution.
19Government of the United States of America v. Purganan, G.R. No. 148571, September 24, 2002, 389 SCRA 623 where the Court said that the constitutional right to bail flows from the presumption of innocence in favor of every accused who should not be subjected to the loss of freedom as thereafter he would be entitled to acquittal, unless his guilt be proved beyond reasonable doubt; see also Shima Baradaran, Restoring the Presumption of Innocence, Ohio State Law Journal, Vol. 72 (2011), p. 728.
20 Baradaran, supra note 19, at 736.
21 Id. at 731.
22Yap, Jr. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 141529, June 6, 2001, 358 SCRA 564, 572.
23Leviste v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 189122, March 17, 2010, 615 SCRA 619, 628.
24 As amended by A.M. No. 00-5-03-SC, December 1, 2000.
25 Section 6, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court.
26Government of the United States of America v. Purganan, supra note 19, at 693.
28 Section 4, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court provides:
Section 4. Bail, a matter of right; exception.—All persons in custody shall be admitted to bail as a matter of right, with sufficient sureties, or released on recognizance as prescribed by law or this Rule (a) before or after conviction by the Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court in Cities, or Municipal Circuit Trial Court, and (b) before conviction by the Regional Trial Court of an offense not punishable by death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment.
29 Section 5, Paragraph 1, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court.
30 A.M. No. RTJ-94-1183, February 6, 1995, 241 SCRA 84, 88.
31Gacal v. Infante, A.M. No. RTJ- 04-1845 (Formerly A.M. No. I.P.I. No. 03-1831-RTJ), October 5, 2011, 658 SCRA 535, 536.
32 A.M. No. RTJ-93-1052, October 27, 1994, 237 SCRA 778, 789-790.
33Cortes v. Catral, A.M. No. RTJ-97-1387, September 10, 1997, 279 SCRA 1, 11.
34 Id. at 18.
35Rollo, pp. 252-253.
36 Id. at 260.
37 Worthy to mention at this juncture is that the Court En Banc, in People v. Genosa (G.R. No. 135981, January 15, 2004, 419 SCRA 537), a criminal prosecution for parricide in which the penalty is reclusion perpetua to death under Article 246 of the Revised Penal Code, appreciated the concurrence of two mitigating circumstances and no aggravating circumstance as a privileged mitigating circumstance, and consequently lowered the penalty imposed on the accused to reclusion temporal in its medium period.
38Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region v. Olalia, Jr., G.R. No. 153675, April 19, 2007, 521 SCRA 470, 482 (bold underscoring supplied for emphasis).
39Rodriguez v. Presiding Judge, RTC, Manila, Br. 17, G.R. No.157977, February 27, 2006, 483 SCRA 290, 298.
40Rollo, pp. 559, 571-576.
41 Id. at 339-340 (TSN of July 14, 2014).
42 Id. at 373-374 (bold underscoring supplied for emphasis).
43 Id. at 334-335, 374-375.
44 Id. at 244-247.
45 Id. at 485-488 (TSN of September 4, 2014).
46 77 Phil. 461 (October 2, 1946), in which the pending criminal case against the petitioner was for treason.
47 Id. at 462.
48 Id. at 465-466.
49Bravo, Jr. v. Borja, No. L-65228, February 18, 1985, 134 SCRA 466, where the Court observed:
To allow bail on the basis of the penalty to be actually imposed would require a consideration not only of the evidence of the commission of the crime but also evidence of the aggravating and mitigating circumstances. There would then be a need for a complete trial, after which the judge would be just about ready to render a decision in the case. As perceptively observed by the Solicitor General, such procedure would defeat the purpose of bail, which is to entitle the accused to provisional liberty pending trial.
50Republic v. Sandiganbayan (Second Division), G.R. No. 129406, March 6, 2006, 484 SCRA 119, 127; Litton Mills, Inc. v. Galleon Trader, Inc., G.R. No. L-40867, July 26, 1988, 163 SCRA 489, 494.
51Angara v. Fedman Development Corporation, G.R. No. 156822, October 18, 2004, 440 SCRA 467, 478; Duero v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 131282, January 4, 2002, 373 SCRA 11, 17.
All persons, except those charged with offenses punishable by reclusion perpetua when evidence of guilt is strong, shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient sureties, or be released on recognizance as may be provided by law. The right to bail shall not be impaired even when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended. Excessive bail shall not be required. - Const., art. III, sec. 13
The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread. –
The Red Lily, Chapter 7 (1894) by Anatole France, French novelist (1844-1924)
This Petition for Certiorari should not be granted. The action of the Sandiganbayan in denying the Motion to Fix Bail was proper. Bail is not a matter of right in cases where the crime charged is plunder and the imposable penalty is reclusion perpetua
Neither was there grave abuse of discretion by the Sandiganbayan when it failed to release accused on bail for medical or humanitarian reasons. His release for medical and humanitarian reasons was not the basis for his prayer in his Motion to Fix Bail1
filed before the Sandiganbayan. Neither did he base his prayer for the grant of bail in this Petition on his medical condition.
The grant of bail, therefore, by the majority is a special accommodation for petitioner. It is based on a ground never raised before the Sandiganbayan or in the pleadings filed before this court. The Sandiganbayan should not be faulted for not shedding their neutrality and impartiality. It is not the duty of an impartial court to find what it deems a better argument for the accused at the expense of the prosecution and the people they represent.
The allegation that petitioner suffers from medical conditions that require very special treatment is a question of fact. We cannot take judicial notice of the truth contained in a certification coming from one doctor. This doctor has to be presented as an expert witness who will be subjected to both direct and cross-examination so that he can properly manifest to the court the physical basis for his inferences as well as the nature of the medical condition of petitioner. Rebutting evidence that may be presented by the prosecution should also be considered. All this would be proper before the Sandiganbayan. Again, none of this was considered by the Sandiganbayan because petitioner insisted that he was entitled to bail as a matter of right on grounds other than his medical condition.
Furthermore, the majority’s opinion—other than the invocation of a general human rights principle—does not provide clear legal basis for the grant of bail on humanitarian grounds. Bail for humanitarian considerations is neither presently provided in our Rules of Court nor found in any statute or provision of the Constitution.
This case leaves this court open to a justifiable criticism of granting a privilege ad hoc: only for one person—petitioner in this case.
Worse, it puts pressure on all trial courts and the Sandiganbayan that will predictably be deluged with motions to fix bail on the basis of humanitarian considerations. The lower courts will have to decide, without guidance, whether bail should be granted because of advanced age, hypertension, pneumonia, or dreaded diseases. They will have to decide whether this is applicable only to Senators and former Presidents charged with plunder and not to those accused of drug trafficking, multiple incestuous rape, serious illegal detention, and other crimes punishable by reclusion perpetua
or life imprisonment. They will have to decide whether this is applicable only to those who are in special detention facilities and not to the aging or sick detainees in overcrowded detention facilities all over this country.
Our trial courts and the Sandiganbayan will decide on the basis of personal discretion causing petitions for certiorari to be filed before this court. This will usher in an era of truly selective justice not based on clear legal provisions, but one that is unpredictable, partial, and solely grounded on the presence or absence of human compassion on the day that justices of this court deliberate and vote.
Not only is this contrary to the Rule of Law, it also undermines the legitimacy and the stability of our entire judicial system.I
On June 5, 2014, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile (Enrile) was charged with the crime of plunder punishable under Republic Act No. 7080.2
Section 2 of this law provides:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
SEC. 2. Definition of the Crime of Plunder, Penalties. - Any public officer who, by himself or in connivance with members of his family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business associates, subordinates or other persons, amasses accumulates or acquires ill-gotten wealth through a combination or series of overt or criminal acts as described in Section 1 (d) hereof in the aggregate amount or total value of at least Fifty million pesos (P50,000,000.00) shall be guilty of the crime of plunder and shall be punished by reclusion perpetua to death[.] (Emphasis supplied)
On June 10, 2014, Enrile filed an Omnibus Motion before the Sandiganbayan, praying that he be allowed to post bail if the Sandiganbayan should find probable cause against him.3
On July 3, 2014, the Sandiganbayan denied the Omnibus Motion on the ground of prematurity since no warrant of arrest had been issued at that time. In the same Resolution, the Sandiganbayan ordered Enrile’s arrest.4
On the same day the warrant of arrest was issued and served, Enrile proceeded to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police in Camp Crame, Quezon City.5
On July 7, 2014, Enrile filed a Motion to Fix Bail, arguing that his alleged age and voluntary surrender were mitigating and extenuating circumstances that would lower the imposable penalty to reclusion temporal
He also argued that his alleged age and physical condition indicated that he was not a flight risk.7
His prayer states:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
WHEREFORE, accused Enrile prays that the Honorable Court allow Enrile to post bail, and forthwith set the amount of bail pending determination that (a) evidence of guilt is strong; (b) uncontroverted mitigating circumstances of at least 70 years old and voluntary surrender will not lower the imposable penalty to reclusion temporal; and (c) Enrile is a flight risk [sic].8cralawlawlibrary
The Office of the Ombudsman filed its Opposition to the Motion to Fix Bail9
dated July 9, 2014. Enrile filed a Reply10
dated July 11, 2014.
Pending the resolution of his Motion to Fix Bail, Enrile filed a Motion for Detention at the PNP General Hospital11
dated July 4, 2014, arguing that “his advanced age and frail medical condition”12
merit hospital arrest in the Philippine National Police General Hospital under such conditions that may be prescribed by the Sandiganbayan.13
He also prayed that in the event of a medical emergency that cannot be addressed by the Philippine National Police General Hospital, he may be allowed to access an outside medical facility.14
His prayer states:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
WHEREFORE, accused Enrile prays that the Honorable Court temporarily place him under hospital confinement at the PNP General Hospital at Camp Crame, Quezon City, with continuing authority given to the hospital head or administrator to exercise his professional medical judgment or discretion to allow Enrile's immediate access of, or temporary visit to, another medical facility outside of Camp Crame, in case of emergency or necessity, secured with appropriate guards, but after completion of the appropriate medical treatment or procedure, he be returned forthwith to the PNP General Hospital.15cralawlawlibrary
After the prosecution’s submission of its Opposition to the Motion for Detention at the PNP General Hospital, the Sandiganbayan held a hearing on July 9, 2014 to resolve this Motion.
On July 9, 2014, the Sandiganbayan issued an Order allowing Enrile to remain at the Philippine National Police General Hospital for medical examination until further orders of the court.16This Order regarding his detention at the Philippine National Police General Hospital is not the subject of this Petition for Certiorari. Enrile did not ask that this Order be declared invalid or null and void.
On July 14, 2014, the Sandiganbayan issued the Resolution17
denying Enrile’s Motion to Fix Bail for being premature,18
[I]t is only after the prosecution shall have presented its evidence and the Court shall have made a determination that the evidence of guilt is not strong against accused Enrile can he demand bail as a matter of right. Then and only then will the Court be duty-bound to fix the amount of his bail.
To be sure, no such determination has been made by the Court. In fact, accused Enrile has not filed an application for bail. Necessarily, no bail hearing can even commence. It is thus exceedingly premature for accused Enrile to ask the Court to fix his bail.19cralawlawlibrary
Enrile filed a Motion for Reconsideration,20
reiterating that there were mitigating and extenuating circumstances that would modify the imposable penalty and that his frail health proved that he was not a flight risk.21
The Sandiganbayan, however, denied the Motion on August 8, 2014.22
Hence, this Petition for Certiorari was filed.II
The Sandiganbayan did not commit grave abuse of discretion when it denied the Motion to Fix Bail for prematurity. It was following entrenched and canonical procedures for bail based upon the Constitution and the Rules of Court.
A trial court—in this case, the Sandiganbayan—acquires jurisdiction over the person of the accused through his or her arrest.23
The consequent detention is to ensure that the accused will appear when required by the Rules and by order of the court trying the offense.24
The provisions on bail provide a balance between the accused’s right to be presumed innocent on one hand and the due process rights of the state to be able to effect the accused’s prosecution on the other hand. That balance is not exclusively judicially determined. The Constitution frames judicial discretion
Thus, Article III, Section 13 states:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Bill of Rights
. . . .
SECTION 13. All persons, except those charged with offenses punishable by reclusion perpetua when evidence of guilt is strong, shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient sureties, or be released on recognizance as may be provided by law. The right to bail shall not be impaired even when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended. Excessive bail shall not be required.
The doctrine on bail is so canonical that it is clearly provided in our Rules of Court. The grant of bail is ordinarily understood as two different concepts: (1) bail as a matter of right and (2) bail as a matter of discretion. Thus, Sections 4 and 5 of Rule 114 provide:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
SEC. 4. Bail, a matter of right; exception. – All persons in custody shall be admitted to bail as a matter of right, with sufficient sureties, or released on recognizance as prescribed by law or this Rule (a) before or after conviction by the Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court in Cities, or Municipal Circuit Trial Court, and (b) before conviction by the Regional Trial Court of an offense not punishable by death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment.
SEC. 5. Bail, when discretionary. – Upon conviction by the Regional Trial Court of an offense not punishable by death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment, admission to bail is discretionary. The application for bail may be filed and acted upon by the trial court despite the filing of a notice of appeal, provided it has not transmitted the original record to the appellate court. However, if the decision of the trial court convicting the accused changed the nature of the offense from non-bailable to bailable, the application for bail can only be filed with and resolved by the appellate court.
Then in Section 7 of Rule 114:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
SEC. 7. Capital offense or an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, not bailable. – No person charged with a capital offense, or an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, shall be admitted to bail when evidence of guilt is strong, regardless of the stage of the criminal prosecution. (Emphasis supplied)
The mandatory bail hearing is only to determine the amount of bail when it is a matter of right. On the other hand, mandatory bail hearings are held when an accused is charged with a crime punishable by reclusion perpetua
or life imprisonment, not only to fix the amount of bail but fundamentally to determine whether the evidence of guilt is strong.
The mandatory character of a bail hearing was first addressed in the 1945 case of Herras Teehankee v. Rovira25
where this court ordered the People’s Court to conduct a bail hearing despite the accused being charged with a capital offense.26
This court reasoned that “the hearing is for the purpose of enabling the People’s Court to exercise its sound discretion as to whether or not under the Constitution and laws in force[,] petitioner is entitled to provisional release under bail.”27
A year later, this court clarified its orders to the People’s Court and gave the following instructions:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
(1) In capital cases like the present, when the prosecutor does not oppose the petition for release on bail, the court should, as a general rule, in the proper exercise of its discretion, grant the release after the approval of the bail which it should fix for the purpose;
(2) But if the court has reasons to believe that the special prosecutor’s attitude is not justified, it may ask him questions to ascertain the strength of the state’s evidence or to judge the adequacy of the amount of bail;
(3) When, however, the special prosecutor refuses to answer any particular question on the ground that the answer may involve a disclosure imperiling the success of the prosecution or jeopardizing the public interest, the court may not compel him to do so, if and when he exhibits a statement to that effect of the Solicitor General, who, as head of the Office of Special Prosecutors, is vested with the direction and control of the prosecution, and may not, even at the trial, be ordered by the court to present evidence which he does not want to introduce—provided, of course, that such refusal shall not prejudice the rights of the defendant or detainee.28cralawlawlibrary
The ruling in Herras Teehankee
was applied in Ocampo v. Bernabe
We have held in Herras Teehankee vs. Director of Prisons, that all persons shall before conviction be bailable except when the charge is a capital offense and the evidence of guilt is strong. The general rule, therefore, is that all persons, whether charged or not yet charged, are, before their conviction, entitled to provisional release on bail, the only exception being where the charge is a capital offense and the evidence of guilt is found to be strong. At the hearing of the application for bail, the burden of showing that the case falls within the exception is on the prosecution, according to Rule 110, section 7. The determination of whether or not the evidence of guilt is strong is, as stated in the Herras Teehankee case, a matter of judicial discretion. This discretion, by the very nature of things, may rightly be exercised only after the evidence is submitted to the court at the hearing. Since the discretion is directed to the weight of evidence and since evidence cannot properly be weighed if not duly exhibited or produced before the court, it is obvious that a proper exercise of judicial discretion requires that the evidence of guilt be submitted to the court, the petitioner having the right of cross-examination and to introduce his own evidence in rebuttal. Mere affidavits or recital of their contents are not sufficient since they are mere hearsay evidence, unless the petitioner fails to object thereto.30 (Emphasis supplied, citations omitted)
was also applied in Feliciano v. Pasicolan, etc., et al.31
and Siazon v. Hon. Presiding Judge of the Circuit Criminal Court, etc., et al
We have disciplined numerous judges who violated this court’s instructions on the application of the constitutional provisions regarding bail.Basco v. Judge Rapatalo33
outlines these administrative cases promulgated from 1981 to 1996.34
Unfortunately, there were still administrative complaints filed against judges for failing to hold a hearing for bail even after the promulgation of Basco.
In Cortes v. Judge Catral
this court ordered Judge Catral to pay a fine of P20,000.00 for granting bail to the accused charged with capital offenses.36
This court could only lament on the deluge of these administrative cases, stating:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
It is indeed surprising, not to say, alarming, that the Court should be besieged with a number of administrative cases filed against erring judges involving bail. After all, there is no dearth of jurisprudence on the basic principles involving bail. As a matter of fact, the Court itself, through its Philippine Judicial Academy, has been including lectures on the subject in the regular seminars conducted for judges. Be that as it may, we reiterate the following duties of the trial judge in case an application for bail is filed:With such succinct but clear rules now incorporated in the Rules of Court, trial judges are enjoined to study them well and be guided accordingly. Admittedly, judges cannot be held to account for an erroneous decision rendered in good faith, but this defense is much too frequently cited even if not applicable. A number of cases on bail having already been decided, this Court justifiably expects judges to discharge their duties assiduously. For a judge is called upon to exhibit more than just a cursory acquaintance with statutes and procedural rules; it is imperative that he be conversant with basic legal principles. Faith in the administration of justice can only be engendered if litigants are convinced that the members of the Bench cannot justly be charged with a deficiency in their grasp of legal principles.37cralawlawlibrary
“1. In all cases, whether bail is a matter of right or of discretion, notify the prosecutor of the hearing of the application for bail or require him to submit his recommendation (Section 18, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court as amended);
2. Where bail is a matter of discretion, conduct a hearing of the application for bail regardless of whether or not the prosecution refuses to present evidence to show that the guilt of the accused is strong for the purpose of enabling the court to exercise its sound discretion; (Section 7 and 8, supra)
3. Decide whether the guilt of the accused is strong based on the summary of evidence of the prosecution;
4. If the guilt of the accused is not strong, discharge the accused upon the approval of the bailbond (Section 19, supra) Otherwise petition should be denied.”
The guidelines in Cortes
fell on deaf ears as administrative cases continued to be filed against judges who failed to hold hearings in applications for bail.
In Docena-Caspe v. Judge Bugtas
the accused was charged with murder.39
Judge Bugtas initially denied the accused’s petition for bail but granted his motion for reconsideration and set his bail without a hearing.40
As a result, Judge Bugtas was ordered to pay a fine of P20,000.0041
for being “grossly ignorant of the rules and procedures in granting or denying bail[.]”42
In Marzan-Gelacio v. Judge Flores
the erring judge was ordered to pay a fine of P10,000.00 for granting bail to the accused charged with rape without a hearing.44
In Chief State Prosecutor Zuño v. Judge Cabebe
Judge Cabebe was fined P20,000.00 for granting bail, without the requisite hearing, to the accused charged with possession of illegal drugs.46
A bail hearing is mandatory even if the accused has not filed an application for bail or the prosecutor already recommends an amount for bail.
In Atty. Gacal v. Judge Infante
Even where there is no petition for bail in a case like Criminal Case No. 1138-03, a hearing should still be held. This hearing is separate and distinct from the initial hearing to determine the existence of probable cause, in which the trial judge ascertains whether or not there is sufficient ground to engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed and that the accused is probably guilty of the crime. The Prosecution must be given a chance to show the strength of its evidence; otherwise, a violation of due process occurs.
. . . .
Being the trial judge, Judge Infante had to be aware of the precedents laid down by the Supreme Court regarding the bail hearing being mandatory and indispensable. He ought to have remembered, then, that it was only through such hearing that he could be put in a position to determine whether the evidence for the Prosecution was weak or strong. Hence, his dispensing with the hearing manifested a gross ignorance of the law and the rules.48cralawlawlibrary
In the present charge of plunder, petitioner now insists that this court justify that bail be granted without any hearing before the Sandiganbayan on whether the evidence of guilt is strong. During the hearing on petitioner’s Motion to Fix Bail, the prosecution argued that any grant of bail should be based only on their failure to establish the strength of the evidence against him.49
The prosecution had no opportunity to present rebuttal evidence based on the prematurity of the Motion.
Building on consistent precedent, the Sandiganbayan correctly denied petitioner’s Motion to Fix Bail for being premature. The denial is neither “capricious, whimsical, arbitrary [nor] despotic”50
as to amount to grave abuse of discretion. It was in accord with the clear provisions of the Constitution, jurisprudence, and long-standing rules of procedure.
Thus, this could not have been the basis for declaring that the Sandiganbayan gravely abused its discretion when it denied petitioner’s Motion to Fix Bail.III
The Sandiganbayan did not commit grave abuse of discretion when it failed to release petitioner on bail for medical or humanitarian reasons. Petitioner did not ask that bail be granted because of his medical condition or for humanitarian reasons. Neither petitioner nor the prosecution as respondent developed their arguments on this point at the Sandiganbayan or in this court to establish the legal and factual basis for this special kind of bail in this case.
Yet, it now becomes the very basis for petitioner’s grant of bail.
In his Petition before this court, petitioner argued that:
- Before judgment of the Sandiganbayan, Enrile is bailable as a matter of right. Enrile may be deemed to fall within the exception only upon concurrence of two (2) circumstances: (i) where the offense is punishable by reclusion perpetua, and (ii) when evidence of guilt is strong.
- It is the duty and burden of the prosecution to show clearly and conclusively that Enrile falls within the exception and exclusion from the right; and not the burden of Enrile to show entitlement to his right.
- The prosecution failed to establish that Enrile’s case falls within the exception; hence, denial of his right to bail by the Sandiganbayan was in grave abuse of discretion.
- The prosecution failed to show clearly and conclusively that Enrile, if ever he would be convicted, is punishable by reclusion perpetua; hence, Enrile is entitled to bail as a matter of right.
- The Sandiganbayan ignored the fact that the penalty prescribed by the Anti-Plunder Law itself for the crime of plunder is not only reclusion perpetua but also the penalty next lower in degree (or reclusion temporal) by “consider(ing) the attendance of mitigating and extenuating circumstances, as provided by the Revised Penal Code.”
- Further proceedings to receive evidence of mitigating circumstances is a needless formality.
- The prosecution failed to show clearly and conclusively that evidence of Enrile’s guilt (if ever) is strong; hence, Enrile is entitled to bail as a matter of right.
- Notwithstanding that the prosecution did not assert, hence failed to raise in issue, in its Opposition to Enrile’s motion for bail, that evidence of guilt is strong, in the light of the prosecution’s continuing muteness to the defense’s repeated challenge for the prosecution to produce any “single piece of paper showing that Enrile received even a single peso of kickback,” the Sandiganbayan nonetheless insisted that Enrile must first initiate, and 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.
- At any rate, Enrile may be bailable as he is not a flight risk.
- The exception to, or exclusion from, the right (“shall be bailable”) does not become a prohibition (“shall not be bailable”). Indeed, the exception to a mandatory right (“shall”) is a permissive right (“may”).
- A liberal interpretation is consistent with the rights to presumptive innocence and non-deprivation of liberty without due process, and the theory behind the exception to right-to-bail.
- Hence, if the theory is clearly shown not to exist as to Enrile (i.e., Enrile is demonstrated not being a flight risk), then bail may be granted to him.
- Enrile is definitely not a flight risk, being of old age, frail physical and medical condition, and having voluntarily surrendered.
- Circumstances of official and social standing shows that Enrile is not a flight risk.
- Other circumstances negating Enrile’s disposition to become a fugitive from justice are also present.
- The following illustrative cases decided by the Supreme Court show that at this stage of the proceeding, Enrile is entitled to bail a matter of right.51
The prayer in his Petition reads:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
WHEREFORE, petitioner Enrile respectfully prays that the Honorable Court:
Petitioner Enrile prays for such other and further relief as may be just and equitable.52cralawlawlibrary
- ACT En Banc on the Petition for Certiorari;
- EXPEDITE the certiorari proceedings;
- SET the Petition for Certiorari for oral arguments; and
- after due proceedings, ANNUL, REVERSE, and SET ASIDE the Sandiganbayan’s Resolution dated July 14, 2014, and the Resolution dated August 8, 2014, and forthwith GRANT BAIL in favor of Enrile.
This case entailed long, arduous, and spirited discussion among the justices of this court in and out of formal deliberations. As provided by our rules and tradition, the discussion was triggered by the submission of the member in charge of a draft early this year. The draft mainly adopted the legal arguments of the Petition which was centered on this court taking judicial notice of evidence to establish two generic mitigating circumstances that would lower the penalty to be imposed even before trial or a hearing for the determination of whether the evidence of guilt is strong happened before the Sandiganbayan. Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe and this member submitted their reflections on this issue. Refutations and arguments were vigorously exchanged in writing.
Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe and this member adopted the common position that there was no grave abuse of discretion and, therefore, the Petition should be dismissed. At most, the Motion to Fix Bail could be treated by the Sandiganbayan as a petition or application for bail as in all cases where the statutorily imposable penalty is reclusion perpetua
, death, or life imprisonment. Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe and this member differed only in the treatment of mitigating circumstances and the interpretation of Bravo, Jr., etc. v. Hon. Borja, et al.53
When this case was called again for deliberation during the En Banc session on August 11, 2015, the member in charge (now the ponente) proposed the idea of dropping all discussion on the legal points pertaining to whether bail was a matter of right and focusing the grant of bail on “humanitarian” grounds. The member in charge committed to circulate a draft for the consideration of all justices. This member expressed that he was open to listen to all arguments.
The revised draft that centered on granting bail on the basis of the medical condition of petitioner was circulated on August 14, 2015. After considered reflection, this member responded with a letter addressed to all the justices, which stated:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
In my view, there are several new issues occasioned by the revisions in the proposed ponencia that need to be threshed out thoroughly so that the Sandiganbayan can be guided if and when an accused charged with offenses punishable with reclusion perpetua should be released on bail “for humanitarian reasons.”
Among these are as follows:
First: Did the Sandiganbayan commit grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction when it applied the text of the Constitution, the rules of court, and the present canonical interpretations of these legal texts?
Second: Are we taking judicial notice of the truth of the contents of the certification of a certain Dr. Gonzalez? Or are we suspending our rules on evidence, that is, doing away with cross examination and not appreciating rebutting evidence that may be or have been presented by the prosecution?
Third: Did the Sandiganbayan commit grave abuse of discretion in appreciating the facts relating to the medical condition of the accused? Or, are we substituting our judgment for theirs?
Fourth: What happens to the standing order of the Sandiganbayan which authorizes the accused to be brought to any hospital immediately if he exhibits symptoms which cannot be treated by the PNP hospital subject only to reportorial requirements to the court? Are we also declaring that the Sandiganbayan’s decisions in relation to their supervision of the detention of the accused were tainted with grave abuse of discretion?
Fifth: What, if any, is the legal basis for humanitarian releases on bail? Or, if we are able to hurdle the factual issues and find that there is actually a medical necessity, should his detention rather be modified? Do we have clear judicial precedents for hospital or house arrests for everyone?
Sixth: Without conceding, if the accused is released on bail so that his medical condition can be attended to, should he be returned to detention when he becomes well? If he reports for work, does this not nullify the very basis of the ponencia?
Seventh: What is the basis for P500,000.00 as bail? We have established rules on what to consider when setting the amount of bail. In relation to the accused and his circumstances, what is our basis for setting this amount? What evidence have we considered? Should this Court rather than the Sandiganbayan exercise this discretion?
Eighth: What are our specific bases for saying that the medical condition of the accused entitles him to treatment different from all those who are now under detention and undergoing trial for plunder? Is it simply his advanced age? What qualifies for advanced age? Is it the medical conditions that come with advanced age? Would this apply to all those who have similar conditions and are also undergoing trial for plunder? Is he suffering from a unique debilitating disease which cannot be accommodated by the best care provided by our detention facilities or hospital or house arrest? Are there sufficient evidence and rules to support our conclusion?
Ninth: Are there more specific and binding international law provisions, other than the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which specifically compel the release of an accused in his condition? Or, are we now reading the general tenor of the declaration of human rights to apply specifically to the condition of this accused? What entitles the accused in this case to a liberal application of very general statements on human rights?54cralawlawlibrary
The points in my letter were raised during the deliberations of August 18, 2015. The member in charge, however, did not agree to wait for a more extensive written reflection on the points raised. Insisting on a vote, he thus declared that he was abandoning the August 14, 2015 circulated draft centering on release on bail on humanitarian grounds for his earlier version premised on the idea that bail was a matter of right based on judicial notice and the judicial declaration of the existence of two mitigating circumstances.
This was the version voted upon at about 11:00 a.m. of August 18, 2015. The only amendment to the majority opinion accepted by the member in charge was the increase of the proposed amount of bail to P1,000,000.00.
The vote was 8 to 4 with Associate Justice Lucas P. Bersamin, who was the member in charge, emerging as the ponente. Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio, Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe, and this member dissented.
During the oral arguments on the Torre de Manila case or at about 3:00 p.m., the ponente passed around a final copy of the majority opinion which was not the version voted upon during the morning’s deliberation
. Rather, the copy offered for signature was substantially the August 14, 2015 circulated version granting bail on humanitarian grounds.
The current ponencia now does away with petitioner’s entire argument, stating that:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Yet, we do not now determine the question of whether or not Enrile’s averment on the presence of the two mitigating circumstances could entitle him to bail despite the crime alleged against him being punishable with reclusion perpetua, simply because the determination, being primarily factual in context, is ideally to be made by the trial court.55 (Citation omitted)
Ordinarily, the drafts of the dissents would have been available to all members of the court at the time that the case was voted upon. But because the final version for signing was not the version voted upon, this member had to substantially revise his dissent. Since the issue of mitigating circumstances and bail as a matter of right was no longer the basis of the ponencia, Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe decided to graciously offer her points for the drafting of a single Dissenting Opinion and to abandon her filing of a Separate Opinion and joining this member.
The Internal Rules of the Supreme Court allows one week for the submission of a dissenting opinion. Thus, in Rule 13, section 7 of A.M. No. 10-4-20-SC:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
SEC. 7. Dissenting, separate or concurring opinion. - A Member who disagrees with the majority opinion, its conclusions, and the disposition of the case may submit to the Chief Justice or Division Chairperson a dissenting opinion, setting forth the reason or reasons for such dissent. A Member who agrees with the result of the case, but based on different reason or reasons may submit a separate opinion; a concurrence “in the result” should state the reason for the qualified concurrence. A Member who agrees with the main opinion, but opts to express other reasons for concurrence may submit a concurring opinion. The dissenting, separate, or concurring opinion must be submitted within one week from the date the writer of the majority opinion presents the decision for the signature of the Members. (Emphasis supplied)
But this member endeavored to complete his draft incorporating the ideas and suggestions of other dissenting justices within two days from the circulation of the majority opinion.
In the meantime, media, through various means, got wind of the vote and started to speculate on the contents of the majority opinion. This may have created expectations on the part of petitioner’s friends, family, and counsel. The Presiding Justice of the Sandiganbayan, while admitting that the Decision had as yet not been promulgated and served, made announcements as to their readiness to receive the cash bond and process the release of the accused even if August 19, 2015 happened to be a holiday in Quezon City, which was the seat of their court.
This is the context of the apparent delay in the announcements regarding the vote and the date of promulgation of this judgment.V
Despite brushing aside all of petitioner’s arguments, the majority, instead of denying the Petition for Certiorari, grants it on some other ground that was not even argued nor prayed for by petitioner.
In essence, the majority now insists on granting bail merely on the basis of the certification in a Manifestation and Compliance dated August 14, 2014 by Dr. Jose C. Gonzales (Dr. Gonzales) stating that petitioner is suffering from numerous debilitating conditions.56
This certification was submitted as an annex to a Manifestation57
before this court regarding the remoteness of the possibility of flight of the accused not for the purposes of asking for bail due to such ailments.
Nowhere in the rules of procedure do we allow the grant of bail based on judicial notice of a doctor’s certification. In doing so, we effectively suspend our rules on evidence by doing away with cross-examination and authentication of Dr. Gonzales’ findings on petitioner’s health in a hearing whose main purpose is to determine whether no kind of alternative detention is possible.
Under Section 2 of Rule 129 of the Revised Rules on Evidence:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
SEC. 2. Judicial notice, when discretionary. – A court may take judicial notice of matters which are of public knowledge, or are capable of unquestionable demonstration, or ought to be known to judges because of their judicial functions.
In State Prosecutors v. Muro
Generally speaking, matters of judicial notice have three material requisites: (1) the matter must be one of common and general knowledge; (2) it must be well and authoritatively settled and not doubtful or uncertain; and (3) it must be known to be within the limits of the jurisdiction of the court. The principal guide in determining what facts may be assumed to be judicially known is that of notoriety. Hence, it can be said that judicial notice is limited to facts evidenced by public records and facts of general notoriety.59cralawlawlibrary
Petitioner’s medical ailments are not matters that are of public knowledge or are capable of unquestionable demonstration. His illness is not a matter of general notoriety.
Assuming that the medical ailments of petitioner are relevant issues for bail, the prosecution is now deprived of a fair opportunity to present any evidence that may rebut the findings of Dr. Gonzales or any other medical documents presented by petitioner in this Court. Due process requires that we remand this matter for a bail hearing to verify Dr. Gonzales’ findings and to ensure that that is still the condition that prevails at present.
That we make factual determinations ourselves to grant provisional liberty to one who is obviously politically privileged without the benefit of the presentation of evidence by both the prosecution and the accused, without the prosecution being granted the opportunity to cross-examine the evidence, and without consideration of any rebutting evidence that may have been presented should a hearing be held, casts serious doubt on our neutrality and objectivity.
The better part of prudence is that we follow strictly our well-entrenched, long-standing, and canonical procedures for bail. Doctrinally, the matter to determine is whether the evidence of guilt is strong. This is to be examined when a hearing is granted as a mandatory manner after a petition for bail is filed by the accused. The medical condition of the accused, if any, should be pleaded and heard.VI
Assuming without conceding that petitioner suffers from illnesses that require immediate medical attention, this court has not established clear guidelines for such releases. The closest that the majority opinion reaches for a standard is:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Bail for the provisional liberty of the accused, regardless of the crime charged, should be allowed independently of the merits of the charge, provided his continued incarceration is clearly shown to be injurious to his health or to endanger his life. Indeed, denying him bail despite imperiling his health and life would not serve the true objective of preventive incarceration during trial.60 (Emphasis in the original)
To see the logical fallacy of the argument we break it down to its premises:
Premise: There are those whose continued incarceration is clearly shown to be injurious to their health OR whose lives are endangered due to incarceration.
Premise: Petitioner is suffering from some ailments.
Therefore: Petitioner should be released.
There are various ways to see the fallacy of the argument.
It is true that it is the duty of courts to ensure that detention prisoners are humanely treated. Under A.M. No. 07-3-02-SC,61
judges of lower courts are mandated to conduct monthly jail visitations in order to “[e]nsure the promotion and protection of the dignity and well being”62
of detention prisoners. Detention prisoners may also be released to a medical facility on humanitarian grounds “if their continuous confinement during the pendency of their case would be injurious to their health or endanger their life.”63
In many instances, alternative detention—whether temporary or permanent—is granted upon a clear showing before the trial court or the Sandiganbayan that the physical condition of the accused, as proven through evidence presented in open court, is absolutely requiring medical attention that could not be accommodated within the current custodial arrangements. Care should, however, be taken that such alternative custodial arrangements do not take place more than the time necessary to address the medical condition of the accused. Likewise, the Sandiganbayan should ensure that alternative custodial arrangements are not borne by the state and, therefore, should be sensitive to the possibility that these alternatives are not seen as a privilege given to the wealthy or powerful detainees.
On July 9, 201464
and July 15, 2014,65
the Sandiganbayan already issued Resolutions allowing accused to remain at the Philippine National Police General Hospital and continue medical examinations until further orders from the court, subject to reportorial requirements and at accused’s personal expense. In particular, the Resolution dated July 9, 2014 states:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Pending receipt of [Dr. Jose C. Gonzales’s report], the Court will hold in abeyance action on accused Enrile’s motion for detention at the PNP General Hospital. However, he is allowed to remain thereat until further orders from this Court. The Director or Administrator of PNP General Hospital is GRANTED AUTHORITY to allow accused Enrile to access another medical facility outside Camp Crame only (1) in case of emergency or necessity, and (2) the medical procedure required to be administered on accused Enrile is not available at, or cannot be provided for by the physicians of, the PNP General Hospital, ALL AT THE PERSONAL EXPENSE OF ACCUSED ENRILE. After completion of the medical treatment or procedure outside Camp Crame, accused Enrile shall be returned forthwith to the PNP General Hospital. The said director or administrator is DIRECTED to submit a report to the Court on such visit/s of accused Enrile to another medical facility on the day following the said visit/s.66 (Emphasis in the original)
The Resolution dated July 15, 2014 states:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
WHEREFORE, premises considered, Dr. Jose C. Gonzales, and/or any his duly authorized representative/s from the Philippine General Hospital, is DIRECTED to continue with the medical examination of accused Juan Ponce Enrile and to submit a report and recommendation to the Court within thirty (30) days from receipt hereof. The necessary medical examination/s and/or procedure/s as determined the said doctor/s shall be undertaken at PGH or any government hospital, which the medical team may deem to have the appropriate, suitable and/or modern equipment or medical apparatus and competent personnel to undertake the procedure/s, ALL AT THE PERSONAL EXPENSE OF ACCUSED JUAN PONCE ENRILE. Pending the completion of the aforesaid medical examination/s and/or procedure/s and submission of the required report and recommendation, accused Juan Ponce Enrile is allowed to remain at the Philippine National Police General Hospital subject to conditions earlier imposed by the Court in its Resolution dated July 9, 2014.
These are standing orders of the Sandiganbayan that authorize accused to be brought to any hospital immediately if he exhibits symptoms that cannot be treated at the Philippine National Police General Hospital subject only to reportorial requirements to the court. In granting bail to petitioner, we are, in effect, declaring that the Sandiganbayan’s decisions in relation to its supervision of the accused’s detention were tainted with grave abuse of discretion.
However, these orders were not the subject of this Petition for Certiorari.
To the Sandiganbayan, based upon the facts as presented to it, accused does not seem to be suffering from a unique debilitating disease whose treatment cannot be provided for by our detention facilities and temporary hospital arrest in accordance with their order. How the majority arrived at a conclusion different from the Sandiganbayan has not been thoroughly explained. Neither did this issue become the subject of intense discussion by the parties through their pleadings.
It is unclear whether this privilege would apply to all those who have similar conditions and are also undergoing trial for plunder. It is unclear whether petitioner’s incarceration aggravates his medical conditions or if his medical conditions are simply conditions which come with advanced age.
The majority has not set specific bases for finding that the medical condition of petitioner entitles him to treatment different from all those who are now under detention and undergoing trial for plunder. There is no showing as to how grave his conditions are in relation to the facilities that are made available to him. There is also no showing as to whether any of his medical ailments is actually aggravating in spite of the best care available. If his health is deteriorating, there is no showing that it is his detention that is the most significant factor or cause for such deterioration.
Usually, when there is a medical emergency that would make detention in the hospital necessary, courts do not grant bail. They merely modify the conditions for the accused’s detention. There is now no clarity as to when special bail based on medical conditions and modified arrest should be imposed.
Finally, there is no guidance as to whether this special bail based on medical condition is applicable only to those of advanced age and whether that advanced age is beyond 90 or 91 years old. There is no guidance as to whether this is applicable only to cases involving plunder. There is no guidance in the majority’s opinion as to whether this is only applicable to the medical conditions or stature or titles of petitioner.
The majority has perilously set an unstated if not ambiguous standard for the special grant of bail on the ground of medical conditions.
Bail is not a matter of right merely for medical reasons. In People v. Fitzgerald
Bail is not a sick pass for an ailing or aged detainee or prisoner needing medical care outside the prison facility. A mere claim of illness is not a ground for bail. It may be that the trend now is for courts to permit bail for prisoners who are seriously sick. There may also be an existing proposition for the “selective decarceration of older prisoners” based on findings that recidivism rates decrease as age increases.69cralawlawlibrary
Neither is there clarity in the majority opinion as to the conditions for this special kind of bail. Thus, the majority asserts:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
It is relevant to observe that granting provisional liberty to Enrile will then enable him to have his medical condition be properly addressed and better attended to by competent physicians in the hospitals of his choice. This will not only aid in his adequate preparation of his defense but, more importantly, will guarantee his appearance in court for the trial.70cralawlawlibrary
Before the ink used to write and print the majority opinion and this dissent has dried, friends, family, and colleagues of petitioner already strongly predict that he would report immediately for work. This strongly indicates that the majority’s inference as to the existence of very serious debilitating illnesses may have been too speculative or premature.
Significantly, there is no guidance to the Sandiganbayan as to whether bail then can be cancelled motu propio or upon motion. There is no guidance as to whether that motion to cancel bail should be filed before the Sandiganbayan or before this court.
The crime charged in petitioner’s case is one where the imposable penalty is reclusion perpetua
. The Constitution and our rules require that bail can only be granted after granting the prosecution the opportunity to prove that evidence of guilt is strong. The special grant of bail, due to medical conditions, is unique, extraordinary, and exceptional. To allow petitioner to go about his other duties would be to blatantly flaunt a violation of the provisions of the Constitution and our rules.
In other words, there is no rule on whether the grant of provisional liberty on the basis of humanitarian considerations extends even after the medical emergency has passed. Again, a case of a decision especially tailored for petitioner.VIII
There is no evidentiary basis for the determination of P1,000,000.00 as the amount for bail. The original proposal of the member in charge was P100,000.00. This was increased to P500,000.00 in its revised proposal circulated on August 14, 2015. Then, upon the request of one member who voted with the majority, it was then increased to P1,000,000.00.
The rules guide courts on what to consider when setting the amount of bail.71
The majority opinion is sparse on the evidence it considers for setting this particular amount. Again, the more prudent course of action would have been for the Sandiganbayan, not this court, to exercise its discretion in setting the amount of bail.IX
There are no specific and binding international law provisions that compel this court to release petitioner given his medical condition. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, relied upon in the majority opinion, is a general declaration72
to uphold the value and dignity of every person.73
It does not prohibit the arrest of any accused based on lawful causes nor does it prohibit the detention of any person accused of crimes. It only implies that any arrest or detention must be carried out in a dignified and humane manner.
The majority opinion cites Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region v. Hon. Olalia, Jr.74
as basis for the grant of bail on humanitarian reasons.75
However, Government of Hong Kong
does not apply to this case because the issue was on whether bail could apply to extradition cases. This court stated that because of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose principles are now embodied in the Constitution, bail applies to all instances where an accused is detained pending trial, including administrative proceedings such as extradition. This court, however, does not state that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights mandates that bail must be granted in instances where the accused is of advanced age and frail health.
Petitioner’s remedies under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that safeguard his fundamental right to liberty are qualified by the Constitution. Article III, Section 13 of the Constitution clearly states that bail is available to all persons before conviction “except those charged with offenses punishable by reclusion perpetua
when evidence of guilt is strong[.]” Even Article 29(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the same document used by the majority opinion, provides that:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
In any case, even this court in Government of Hong Kong
was wary to grant bail without evidence presented that the accused was not a flight risk. For this reason, it remanded
the case to the trial court76
instead of applying the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and categorically stating that based on these principles alone, the accused was entitled to bail.
It is true that the Constitution is replete with provisions on both the respect for human dignity and the protection of human rights. These rights are applicable to those who, during the dark days of Martial Law, were illegally detained, tortured, and even involuntarily disappeared. There is, of course, no reason for these rights and the invocation of human dignity not to be applicable to Senators of our Republic.
However, the mere invocation of the broadest concept of human rights is not shibboleth. It should not be cause for us to be nonchalant about the existence of other constitutional and statutory provisions and the norms in our Rules of Court. The mere invocation of human rights does not mean that the Rule of Law is suspended. It is not a shortcut to arrive at the conclusion or result that we want. Rather, human rights are best entrenched with the Rule of Law. Suspending the applicability of clear legal provisions upon the invocation of human rights compels this court to do a more conscious and rigorous analysis of how these provisions violate specific binding human rights norms.
The majority opinion fails in this respect.
Liberty is indeed a cherished value. It is an intrinsic part of our humanity to fight for it and ensure that it allows all of us to lead the kind of lives that we will consider meaningful. This applies to petitioner as accused. Yet it also applies with equal force to all the individuals in our communities and in this society
Our collective liberty, the kind that ensures our individual and collective meaningful existence, is put at risk if justice is wanting. Special privileges may be granted only under clear, transparent, and reasoned circumstances. Otherwise, we accept that there are just some among us who are elite. Otherwise, we concede that there are those among us who are powerful and networked enough to enjoy privileges not shared by all.
This dissent rages against such a premise. It is filled with discomfort with the consequences of the majority’s position. It cannot accept any form of impunity.
Plunder is not the only crime statutorily punished with the imposable penalty of reclusion perpetua
or life imprisonment. Under the Revised Penal Code, the following crimes, among others, carry this as maximum penalty:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
(3) Kidnapping and serious illegal detention;79
(4) Robbery with homicide;80
(5) Robbery with rape;81
(6) Robbery with serious physical injuries;82
(7) Attempted or frustrated robbery with homicide;83
(9) Rape of children under 12 years old;85
(10) Sexual assault;86 and
(11) Incestuous rape.87cralawlawlibrary
Under special laws, the following crimes, among others, carry the maximum penalty of life imprisonment or reclusion perpetua
(1) Carnapping with homicide or rape;88
(2) Sale of illegal drugs regardless of quantity and purity;89
(3) Illegal possession of 10 grams or more of heroin, 10 grams or more of cocaine, 50 grams or more of shabu, 500 grams or more of marijuana, or 10 grams or more of ecstasy;90
(4) Illegal possession of 10 grams to less than 50 grams of shabu;91
(5) Illegal possession of 5 grams to less than 10 grams of heroin, cocaine, shabu, or ecstasy;92
(6) Child prostitution;93
(7) Child trafficking;94
(8) Forcing a street child or any child to beg or to use begging as a means of living;95
(9) Forcing a street child or any child to be a conduit in drug trafficking or pushing;96
(10) Forcing a street child or any child to commit any illegal activities;97 and
(11) Murder, homicide, other intentional mutilation, and serious physical injuries of a child under 12 years old.98cralawlawlibrary
If we are to take judicial notice of anything, then it should be that there are those accused of murder, trafficking, sale of dangerous drugs, incestuous rape, rape of minors, multiple counts of rape, or even serious illegal detention who languish in overcrowded detention facilities all over our country. We know this because the members of this court encounter them through cases appealed on a daily basis. Many of them suffer from diseases that they may have contracted because of the conditions of their jails. But they and their families cannot afford hospitals better than what government can provide them. After all, they remain in jail because they may not have the resources to launch a full-scale legal offensive marked with the creativity of well-networked defense counsel. After all, they may have committed acts driven by the twin evils of greed or lust on one hand and poverty on the other hand.
For them, there are no special privileges. The application of the law to them is often brute, banal, and canonical. Theirs is textbook equal treatment by courts.
Our precedents show that when there are far less powerful, less fortunate, poorer accused, this court has had no difficulty denying a motion to fix bail or motion to set bail where the crime charged carries the imposable penalty of reclusion perpetua
. With less powerful accused, we have had no difficulty reading the plain meaning of Article III, Section 13 of the Constitution. With those who are less fortunate in life, there are no exceptions.
Petitioner in this case is unbelievably more fortunate.
There is a right, just, and legal way to do things for the right, just, and legal result. In my view, it is not right, just, and legal to grant bail, even for P1,000,000.00, without clearly articulating why the Sandiganbayan’s actions were arbitrary, capricious, and whimsical.
In truth, the Sandiganbayan acted in accordance with law and with sufficient compassion. It did not gravely abuse its discretion. Thus, this Petition should be dismissed.XI
Those that read a decision which does not fully respond to the legal issues outlined in this dissent may be tempted to conclude that the decision is the result of obvious political accommodation rather than a judicious consideration of the facts and the law. This case may benefit one powerful public official at the cost of weakening our legal institutions. If it is pro hac vice
, then it amounts to selective justice. If it is meant to apply in a blanket manner for all other detainees, then it will weaken the administration of justice because the judicial standards are not clear.
Without further clarity, our signal to the various divisions of the Sandiganbayan hearing these complex and politically laden plunder cases can be misinterpreted. Rather than apply the Rule of Law without fear or favor, the sitting justices will become more sensitive to the demands of those who have political influence. After all, in their minds, even if they do what is expected of them, this court may still declare that the Sandiganbayan gravely abused its discretion.
The granting of bail is a judicial function circumscribed within the bounds of the Constitution. Our duty is to ensure the realization of the Rule of Law even in difficult cases. This case does not really present any kind of legal complexity if we blind ourselves as to who is involved. It is complex only because it is political.
The grant of provisional liberty to petitioner without any determination of whether the evidence of guilt is strong violates the clear and unambiguous text of the Constitution. It may be that, as citizens, we have our own opinions on or predilections for how the balance of fundamental rights, liberties, and obligations should be. It may be that, as citizens, such opinions are founded on our wealth of knowledge and experience.
But, as members of this court, our duty is to enforce the exact textual formulation of the fundamental document written and ratified by the sovereign. This fealty to the text of the Constitution will provide us with a stable anchor despite the potential political controversies that swirl over the legal questions that we need to decide. It is also this fealty to the text of the Constitution that gives this court the legitimacy as the final bastion and the ultimate sentinel of the Rule of Law.
As the apex of the judiciary, the very sentinels of the Rule of Law, the court from whom all other courts—like the Sandiganbayan—should find inspiration and courage, we should apply the law squarely and without fear or favor. We should have collectively carried the burden of doing justice properly and denied this Petition.
Indeed, mercy and compassion temper justice. However, mercy and compassion should never replace justice. There is injustice when we, as the court of last resort, conveniently rid ourselves of the burden of enforcing the Rule of Law by neglecting to do the kind of rigorous, deliberate, and conscious analysis of the issues raised by the parties. There is injustice when we justify the result we want with ambiguous and unclear standards.
Compassion as an excuse for injustice not only fails us as justices of this court. It also fails us in our own humanity.ACCORDINGLY
, I vote to DISMISS
the Petition. The Motion to Fix Bail should be treated by the Sandiganbayan as a petition for bail under Rule 114, Section 5 of the Rules of Court.
1 Petition for Certiorari, Annex I.
2 An Act Defining and Penalizing the Crime of Plunder, as amended by Rep. Act No. 7659 (1993).
3 Ponencia, p. 2.
6 Petition for Certiorari, Annex I, pp. 4–5.
7 Id. at 5.
8 Id. at 6–7.
9 Petition for Certiorari, Annex J.
10 Petition for Certiorari, Annex K.
11 Petition for Certiorari, Annex H.
12 Id. at 2.
15 Id. at 3.
16 Petition for Certiorari, Annex O, p. 5.
17 Petition for Certiorari, Annex A.
18 Id. at 6 and 10.
19 Id. at 6.
20 Petition for Certiorari, Annex L.
21 Id. at 3–5.
22 Petition for Certiorari, Annex B, p. 14.
23See Fiscal Gimenez v. Judge Nazareno, 243 Phil. 274, 278 (1988) [Per J. Gancayco, En Banc].
24See REV. RULES OF CRIM. PROC., Rule 114, sec. 3.
25 75 Phil. 634 (1945) [Per J. Hilado, En Banc].
26 Id. at 644.
28Herras Teehankee v. Director of Prisons, 76 Phil. 756, 774 (1946) [Per J. Hilado, En Banc].
29 77 Phil. 55 (1946) [Per C.J. Moran, En Banc].
30 Id. at 58.
31 112 Phil. 781, 782–783 (1961) [Per J. Natividad, En Banc].
32 149 Phil. 241, 247 (1971) [Per J. Makalintal, En Banc].
33 336 Phil. 214 (1997) [Per J. Romero, Second Division].
34 Id. at 221–227, citing People v. Mayor Sola, et al., 191 Phil. 21 (1981) [Per C.J. Fernando, En Banc], People v. Hon. San Diego, etc., et al., 135 Phil. 514 (1968) [Per J. Capistrano, En Banc], People v. Judge Dacudao, 252 Phil. 507 (1989) [Per J. Gutierrez, Jr., Third Division], People v. Calo, Jr., 264 Phil. 1007 (1990) [Per J. Bidin, En Banc], Libarios v. Dabalos, A.M. No. RTJ-89-286, July 11, 1991, 199 SCRA 48 [Per J. Padilla, En Banc], People v. Nano, G.R. No. 94639, January 13, 1992, 205 SCRA 155 [Per J. Bidin, Third Division], Pico v. Combong, Jr., A.M. No. RTJ-91-764, November 6, 1992, 215 SCRA 421 [Per Curiam, En Banc], De Guia v. Maglalang, A.M. No. RTJ-89-306, March 1, 1993, 219 SCRA 153 [Per Curiam, En Banc], Borinaga v. Tamin, A.M. No. RTJ-93-936, September 10, 1993, 226 SCRA 206, 216 [Per J. Regalado, En Banc], Aurillo, Jr. v. Francisco, A.M. No. RTJ-93-1097, August 12, 1994, 235 SCRA 283 [Per J. Padilla, En Banc], Estoya v. Abraham-Singson, A.M. No. RTJ-91-758, September 26, 1994, 237 SCRA 1 [Per Curiam, En Banc], Aguirre v. Belmonte, A.M. No. RTJ-93-1052, October 27, 1994, 237 SCRA 778 [Per J. Regalado, En Banc], Lardizabal v. Reyes, A.M No. MTJ-94-897, December 5, 1994, 238 SCRA 640 [Per J. Padilla, En Banc], Guillermo v. Judge Reyes, Jr., etc., 310 Phil. 176 (1995) [Per J. Regalado, Second Division], Santos v. Judge Ofilada, 315 Phil. 11 (1995) [Per J. Regalado, En Banc], Sule v. Biteng, 313 Phil. 398 (1995) [Per J. Davide, Jr., En Banc], and Buzon, Jr. v. Judge Velasco, 323 Phil. 724 (1996) [Per J. Panganiban, En Banc].
35 344 Phil. 415 (1997) [Per J. Romero, En Banc].
36 Id. at 430–431.
37 Id., citing Basco v. Judge Rapatalo, 336 Phil. 214, 237 (1997) [Per J. Romero, Second Division].
38 448 Phil. 45 (2003) [Per J. Ynares-Santiago, First Division].
39 Id. at 48.
40 Id. at 49–50.
41 Id. at 56–57.
42 Id. at 56.
43 389 Phil. 372 (2000) [Per J. Ynares-Santiago, First Division].
44 Id. at 375 and 388.
45 486 Phil. 605 (2004) [Per J. Sandoval-Gutierrez, Third Division].
46 Id. at 611 and 618.
47 674 Phil. 324 (2011) [Per J. Bersamin, First Division].
48 Id. at 340–341, citing Directo v. Judge Bautista, 400 Phil. 1, 5 (2000) [Per J. Melo, Third Division] and Marzan-Gelacio v. Judge Flores, 389 Phil. 372, 381 (2000) [Per J. Ynares-Santiago, First Division].
49 Petition for Certiorari, Annex A, p. 2.
50People v. Sandiganbayan, 490 Phil. 105, 116 (2005) [Per J. Chico-Nazario, Second Division], citing People v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 144332, June 10, 2004, 431 SCRA 610, 616 [Per J. Callejo, Sr., Second Division], Rodson Philippines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 141857, June 9, 2004, 431 SCRA 469, 480 [Per J. Callejo, Sr., Second Division], Matugas v. Commission on Elections, 465 Phil. 299, 313 (2004) [Per J. Tinga, En Banc], Tomas Claudio Memorial College, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 467 Phil. 541, 553 (2004) [Per J. Callejo, Sr., Second Division], and Condo Suite Club Travel, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission, 380 Phil. 660, 667 (2000) [Per J. Quisumbing, Second Division].
51 Petition for Certiorari, pp. 9–12.
52 Id. at 64.
53 219 Phil. 432 (1985) [Per J. Plana, First Division].
54 J. Leonen, Letter to Colleagues dated August 18, 2015.
55 Ponencia, p. 10.
56 The enumeration of diseases on page 12 of the ponencia is based on the certification of Dr. Gonzales. There was a hearing but for the purpose of determining whether hospital arrest can continue. The hearing was not for the purpose of determining whether bail should be granted on the basis of his medical condition.
57Rollo, p. 373.
58 A.M. No. RTJ-92-876, September 19, 1994, 236 SCRA 505 [Per Curiam, En Banc].
59 Id. at 521–522, citing 20 Am. Jur., Evidence, Sec. 17, 48, King v. Gallun, et al., 109 U.S. 99, 27 L. ed. 870, and 31 C.J.S., Evidence, Secs. 6–7, 823.
60 Ponencia, p. 14.
61Re: Guidelines on the Jail Visitation and Inspection. New guidelines are stated in OCA Circular No. 107-2013.
62 A.M. No. 07-3-02-SC (2008), sec. 1(3).
63De la Rama v. People’s Court, 77 Phil. 461, 465 (1946) [Per J. Feria, En Banc].
64 Petition for Certiorari, Annex O.
65 Petition for Certiorari, Annex P.
66 Petition for Certiorari, Annex O, p. 5.
67 Petition for Certiorari, Annex P, pp. 2–3.
68 536 Phil. 413 (2006) [Per J. Austria-Martinez, First Division].
69 Id. at 428, citing Release of Accused by Judge Muro in Non-Bailable Offense, 419 Phil. 567, 581 (2001) [Per Curiam, En Banc], People v. Judge Gako, Jr., 401 Phil. 514, 541 (2000) [Per J. Gonzaga-Reyes, Third Division], Ernesto Pineda, THE REVISED RULES ON CRIMINAL PROCEDURE 193 (2003) which in turn cited De la Rama v. People’s Court, 77 Phil. 461, 465 (1946) [Per J. Feria, En Banc], Archer’s case, 6 Gratt 705, Ex parte Smith, 2 Okla. Crim. Rep. 24, 99 Pfc. 893, and Max Rothman, Burton Dunlop, and Pamela Entzel, ELDERS, CRIME AND THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM 233–234 (2000).
70 Ponencia, p. 15.
71See REV. RULES OF CRIM. PROC., Rule 114, sec. 9, which states:
SEC. 9. Amount of bail; guidelines. – The judge who issued the warrant or granted the application shall fix a reasonable amount of bail considering primarily, but not limited to, the following factors:
(a) Financial ability of the accused to give bail;
(b) Nature and circumstances of the offense;
(c) Penalty for the offense charged;
(d) Character and reputation of the accused;
(e) Age and health of the accused;
(f) Weight of the evidence against the accused;
(g) Probability of the accused appearing at the trial;
(h) Forfeiture of other bail;
(i) The fact that the accused was a fugitive from justice when arrested; and
(j) Pendency of other cases where the accused is on bail.
Excessive bail shall not be required.
72 In Republic v. Sandiganbayan, 454 Phil. 504, 545 (2003) [Per J. Carpio, En Banc], this court stated: “Although the signatories to the Declaration did not intend it as a legally binding document, being only a declaration, the Court has interpreted the Declaration as part of the generally accepted principles of international law and binding on the State.”
73 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, art. 1 states that “[a]ll human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”
74 550 Phil. 63, 72 (2007) [Per J. Sandoval-Gutierrez, En Banc].
75 Ponencia, pp. 10–11.
76See Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region v. Hon. Olalia, Jr., 550 Phil. 63, 77 (2007) [Per J. Sandoval-Gutierrez, En Banc]. The dispositive portion reads: “WHEREFORE, we DISMISS the petition. This case is REMANDED to the trial court to determine whether private respondent is entitled to bail on the basis of ‘clear and convincing evidence.’ If not, the trial court should order the cancellation of his bail bond and his immediate detention; and thereafter, conduct the extradition proceedings with dispatch.”
77 REV. PEN. CODE, art. 246.
78 REV. PEN. CODE, art. 248, as amended by Rep. Act No. 7659 (1993), sec. 6, and Rep. Act No. 9346 (2006), sec. 1.
79 REV. PEN. CODE, art. 267, as amended by Rep. Act No. 7659 (1993), sec. 8, and Rep. Act No. 9346 (2006), sec. 1.
80 REV. PEN. CODE, art. 294(1), as amended by Rep. Act No. 7659 (1993), sec. 9.
81 REV. PEN. CODE, art. 294(1), as amended by Rep. Act No. 7659 (1993), sec. 9.
82 REV. PEN. CODE, art. 294(2), as amended by Rep. Act No. 7659 (1993), sec. 9.
83 REV. PEN. CODE, art. 297.
84 REV. PEN. CODE, art. 266-A, as amended by Rep. Act No. 8353 (1997), sec. 2.
85 REV. PEN. CODE, art. 266-A(1)(d), as amended by Rep. Act No. 8353 (1997), sec. 2.
86 REV. PEN. CODE, art. 266-A(2), as amended by Rep. Act No. 8353 (1997), sec. 2.
87 REV. PEN. CODE, art. 266-B(1), as amended by Rep. Act No. 8353 (1997), sec. 2.
88 Rep. Act No. 6539 (1972), sec. 14, as amended by Rep. Act No. 7659 (1993), sec. 20 and Rep. Act No. 9346 (2006), sec. 1.
89 Rep. Act No. 9165 (2002), sec. 5.
90 Rep. Act No. 9165 (2002), sec. 11, 1st par. (3)(4)(5)(7)(8).
91 Rep. Act No. 9165 (2002), sec. 11, 2nd par. (1).
92 Rep. Act No. 9165 (2002), sec. 11, 2nd par. (2).
93 Rep. Act No. 7610 (1992), sec. 5.
94 Rep. Act No. 7610 (1992), sec. 7.
95 Rep. Act No. 7610 (1992), sec. 10(e)(1)
96 Rep. Act No. 7610 (1992), sec. 10(e)(2).
97 Rep. Act No. 7610 (1992), sec. 10(e)(3).
98 Rep. Act No. 7610 (1992), sec. 10.cralawred