Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon Revilla Jr., and Juan Ponce Enrile should be presumed innocent until they are proven guilty, a law expert said.
In an interview with dzRH on Monday, Fr. Ranhillo Aquino, Dean of San Beda College School of Law, sees an unfair treatment being given to the three senators, who are charged with plunder by the Ombudsman last week before the Sandiganbayan.
Anytime soon, the three senators can be arrested once the Sandiganbayan releases the arrest warrant against them.
“There is something unfair about that because you are denied [of] your liberty hangga’t di ka pa napatunayang guilty,” Aquino said.
“Parang nililitis na rin [sila].”
The law expert also sees something suspicious with the sequences of events since the three senators are yet to be proven guilty by the court.
“Ang masakit lang diyan, they are under detention while the case is in trial,” Aquino explained.
Estrada, Revilla and Enrile are accused of conniving with Janet Lim-Napoles to funnel the congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in exchange of kickbacks.
Aquino said the warrant of arrest can be served in just days but the three accused senators can still appeal the decision by asking for a reinvestigation or go to the Supreme Court and ask for a review of the findings of the Ombudsman.
“Sometimes it takes a matter of days only and then they issue a warrant of arrest. But the respondents also have a recourse. They can ask for reinvestigation. They can also ask the Supreme Court to review the findings of the Ombudsman,” Aquino pointed out.
On the case of Enrile, who is aged 90, Aquino explained that there is no age limit in jail but he stressed that he is innocent until proven guilty and that he is still entitled to all benefits under existing laws.
“Actually there is no limit to how old you are pag nakukulong ka. Pero pag wala pang judgment ang court, you are presumed innocent so you are really entitled to all benefits under the law,” he said.
He added that Enrile “is very old and very weak. No person whoever is human-hearted would ever jail somebody of that age.”
If he would still be arrested, the government “can put him under a house arrest or a government facility that is friendly or more comfortable.”
Aquino, meanwhile, said if Estrada and Revilla are arrested, under normal course of events, they should be put under normal detention facilties.
He also criticized the Aquino administration for fast-tracking the cases of the opposition senators while President Aquino’s allies are free from being investigated.
“Bakit yung miyembro ng Cabinet ni Pangulong Aquino na napapangalanan din ay wala man lang move to investigate din? Kasi sinasabi ng Palasyo na wala silang sala kahit wala pang imbestigasyon. Yun talaga ang karumaldumal,” he said.