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ENRILE vs.

SANDIGANBAYAN: DIGEST AND COMMENTS


G.R. No. 213847; August 18, 2015
Ponente: Bersamin
Doctrines:
Primary objective of bail 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.
Bail is a right and a matter of discretion Right to bail is afforded in Sec. 13, Art III of the 1987
Constitution and repeted in Sec. 7, Rule 114 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure to wit: 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.
FACTS:
On June 5, 2014, Petitioner Juan Ponce Enrile was charged with plunder in the Sandiganbayan on the
basis of his purported involvement in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) Scam. Initially,
Enrile in an Omnibus Motion requested to post bail, which the Sandiganbayan denied. On July 3, 2014, a
warrant for Enrile's arrest was issued, leading to Petitioner's voluntary surrender.
Petitioner again asked the Sandiganbayan in a Motion to Fix Bail which was heard by the
Sandiganbayan. Petitioner argued that: (a) Prosecution had not yet established that the evidence of his
guilt was strong; (b) that, because of his advanced age and voluntary surrender, the penalty would only
be reclusion temporal, thus allowing for bail and; (c) he is not a flight risk due to his age and physical
condition. Sandiganbayan denied this in its assailed resolution. Motion for Reconsideration was likewise
denied.
ISSUES:
1) Whether or not bail may be granted as a matter of right unless the crime charged is punishable by
reclusion perpetua where the evidence of guilt is strong.
a. Whether or not prosecution failed to show that if ever petitioner would be convicted, he will be
punishable by reclusion perpetua.
b. Whether or not prosecution failed to show that petitioner's guilt is strong.
2. Whether or not petitioner is bailable because he is not a flight risk.
HELD:
1. YES.
Bail as a matter of right due process and presumption of innocence.
Article III, Sec. 14 (2) of the 1987 Constitution provides that in all criminal prosecutions, the accused
shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved. This right is safeguarded by the constitutional
right to be released on bail.
The purpose of bail is to guarantee the appearance of the accused at trial and so the amount of bail
should be high enough to assure the presence of the accused when so required, but no higher than
what may be reasonably calculated to fulfill this purpose.
Bail as a matter of discretion
Right to bail is afforded in Sec. 13, Art III of the 1987 Constitution and repeted in Sec. 7, Rule 114 of the
Rules of Criminal Procedure to wit:
Capital offense of 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.
The general rule: Any person, before conviction of any criminal offense, shall be bailable.

Exception: Unless he is charged with an offense punishable with reclusion perpetua [or life
imprisonment] and the evidence of his guilt is strong.
Thus, denial of bail should only follow once it has been established that the evidence of guilt is strong.
Where evidence of guilt is not strong, bail may be granted according to the discretion of the court.
Thus, Sec. 5 of Rule 114 also provides:
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.
Should the court grant the application, the accused may be allowed to continue on provisional liberty
during the pendency of the appeal under the same bail subject to the consent of the bondsman.
If the penalty imposed by the trial court is imprisonment exceeding six (6) years, the accused shall be
denied bail, or his bail shall be cancelled upon a showing by the prosecution, with notice to the
accused, of the following or other similar circumstances:
(a) That he is a recidivist, quasi-recidivist, or habitual delinquent, or has committed the crime
aggravated by the circumstance of reiteration;
(b) That he has previously escaped from legal confinement, evaded sentence, or violated the conditions
of his bail without valid justification;
(c) That he committed the offense while under probation, parole, or conditional pardon;
(d) That the circumstances of his case indicate the probability of flight if released on bail; or
(e) That there is undue risk that he may commit another crime during the pendency of the appeal.
The appellate court may, motu proprio or on motion of any party, review the resolution of the Regional
Trial Court after notice to the adverse party in either case.
Thus, admission to bail in offenses punished by death, or life imprisonment, or reclusion perpetua
subject to judicial discretion. In Concerned Citizens vs. Elma, the court held: [S]uch 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. Bail hearing with notice is indispensable
(Aguirre vs. Belmonte). The hearing should primarily determine whether the evidence of guilt against
the accused is strong.
The procedure for discretionary bail is described in Cortes vs. Catral:
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.

2. YES.
Petitioner's poor health justifies his admission to bail
The Supreme Court took note of the Philippine's responsibility to the international community arising
from its commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We therefore have the
responsibility of protecting and promoting the right of every person to liberty and due process and for
detainees to avail of such remedies which safeguard their fundamental right to liberty. Quoting from
Government of Hong Kong SAR vs. Olalia, the SC emphasized:
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. (emphasis in decision)
Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of discretion
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
Petitioner. As such the Sandiganbayan gravely abused its discretion in denying the Motion to Fix Bail. It
acted whimsically and capriciously and was so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a
positive duty [to allow petitioner to post bail].
-o0oLEONEN DISSENT
Justice Leonen criticized the decision for having a very weak legal basis the grant of bail over mere
humanitarian grounds. He also claims that the court has no authority to use humanitarian grounds.
Leonen argues that [Petitioner's] release for medical or humanitarian reasons was not the basis for his
prayer in his Motion to Fix Bail before the Sandiganbayan, nor were these grounds raised in the
petition in the Supreme Court.
Bail for humanitarian considerations is neither presently provided in our Rules of Court nor found in
any statute or provision of the Constitution.
Leonen theorized that the Supreme Court only granted bail as a special accomodation for the petitioner
and he goes on to criticize the decision to wit:
[This decision] will usher in an era of truly selective justice not based on their legal provisions, but one
that is unpredictable, partial and solely grounded on the presence or absence of human compassion.
xxx
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,
and other crimes punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment...
Procedure for granting bail
Leonen's dissent also examines the procedure outlined for the lower courts in bail cases in order to
demonstrate that the Sandiganbayan did not err in denying Petitioner's Motion to Fix Bail. In Cortes vs.
Catral the Supreme Court held:

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:
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.
With such succinct but clear rules now incorporated in the Rules of Court, trial judges are enjoined to
study them as 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 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 charge with a deficiency in their grasp of legal principles.
Petitioner in this case, insisted that the Sandiganbayan grant his bail without any hearing for the
purpose of determining whether the evidence of guilt is strong. At the Motion to Fix Bail, the
prosecution had no opportunity to present any evidence because of the prematurity of Petitioner's
Motion [to Fix Bail]. Thus, the dissent asserts that the Sandiganbayan was correct in denying the Motion
based on prematurity.
Medical or humanitarian grounds inappropriate
Petitioner did not ask for bail to be granted based on humanitarian reasons at the Sandiganbayan.
Neither petitioner nor the prosecution were able to develop their arguments as to this point to establish
legal and factual basis for this kind of bail.
The dissent argues that it was inappropriate for the court to grant bail merely on the basis of the
certification of the attending physician, Dr. Gonzales, stating that the Petitioner was suffering from
numerous debilitating conditions. The dissent states that:
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 crossexamination 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.
xxx
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 petition for bail is filed by
accused. The medical condition of the accused, if any, should be pleaded and heard.

Version of the decision submitted by Ponente was not the version deliberated upon
This section of the dissent reveals that the Justices voted to grant bail based on a substantially different
version of the opinion, one which did not use humanitarian considerations as a ground for the granting
of bail. The dissent explains that the Justices voted 8-4 solely on the issue of whether or not bail is a
matter of right and reveals that the copy offered for signature was substantially similar to an earlier
draft which used humanitarian considerations as the basis for the granting of bail. The dissent makes it
clear that this was an irregularity.
The majority opinion offers no guidance
The dissent argues that the main opinion is unclear whether the privilege (humanitarian considerations,
right to bail, etc.) will apply to those who have similar conditions. Whether or not this privilege will only
apply to those undergoing trial for plunder or whether or not this privilege can be granted to those of
advanced age only. The majority has perilously set an unstated if not ambiguous standard for the
special grant of bail on the ground of medical conditions.
There is also no guidance to the Sandiganbayan as to if, when and how bail can then be canceled.