Stunning Decision, Stinging Dissent

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Stunning Decision, Stinging Dissent

Topic |  

jayWhat stuns more  than granting bail to the enduring Senator Juan Ponce Enrile is justification advanced by the Supreme Court in so doing.

A majority of eight justices of the Supreme Court caught many by surprise when it allowed the 91 year old senator temporary freedom.

But what really stirred up the hornet’s nest is the reason granting the bail— “humanitarian “grounds.

After reading the majority decision, I felt I was reading a law school thesis that was destined to earn a failing grade.


In the body of the decision, the Supreme Court decision took great lengths (or pains) at scholarly parroting long standing principles of bail.

Then when it came to the dispositive part, the decision strayed and seemed to say that well, these principles notwithstanding, we will grant him bail nonetheless on humanitarian grounds.

The problem is that bail on humanitarian grounds is without legal basis.

It’s not a ground for granting bail.

Many judges in lower courts were administratively sanctioned by the Supreme Court for invoking this ground.

In law school,  as early as in their freshman year, law students are mercilessly trained to think legal.


Every answer must have a legal leg to stand on, so to speak.


Answers that will raise hell among professors for absence of any legal substance include “sir, because its unfair”, “sir, because it not right” or “sir its not morally correct”, etc.

So an answer that  says “sir, on humanitarian grounds” would have raised similar howls from any professor.

That is why to reason something that is not in the law, specially “on humanitarian grounds” which is as general as it is vague, would certainly earn a law student a 5 (fail) and a complementary “sit-down” command.


But here in the Enrile case, since the same answer is given by the Supreme Court, it becomes the law of the land.

Yet on his first workday since gaining freedom, the old, frail and supposedly sick Enrile reported to his Senate office.


On the other hand, the stinging dissent of Associate Justice Marvic Leonen is not only the more publicized, it certainly is, to many, the far more rational view.

You can easily discern that justice is dispensed when your reading of a decision breezes with the way a decision is reasoned out.

But when a decision appears to be a stretch, you will scratch.

“Where is this coming from?” you will ask.

The majority decision will really pose a problem.

The Supreme Court has laid down a  new ground for bail.

It will have to define and re-define it.

There are so many prisoners languishing in jail seeking liberty who are  as senior  in age as Juan Ponce Enrile, who are as sick or even more sick than Enrile is, but certainly not as moneyed, and with a reputation that is not as “solid” as the senator.

The Supreme Court I guess would also have to particularly define what “solid reputation” means, with Enrile and his colorful life as its benchmark.

We have long been exposed  to the sad reality that  there are, indeed, two kinds of justice in this land.

One is for the rich, the moneyed,  the influential and the “solid”.

The other is for the poor, the penniless and the weak.

The Enrile bail ruling reinforces this reality. (By Atty. Jay I. Dejaresco)

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