Sandiganbayan orders release of Enrile after posting bail

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Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile posted bail totaling P1.45 million at the Sandiganbayan on Thursday, August 20, 2015.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile is again a free man, if only temporarily.

On Thursday (August 20), police escorts brought him from Camp Crame to the Sandiganbayan, where he posted bail totaling P1.45 million for the plunder and graft cases filed against him over a multibillion-peso pork barrel scam supposedly masterminded by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.

On arriving at the Sandiganbayan, the 91-year-old former Senate president and his lawyers went straight to the clerk of court of the Third Division, which is hearing his pork scam cases. Then Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje Tang, who also chairs the Third Divsion, received him.

Tang said Enrile, Like any other accused out on bail, would be able to travel abroad, but he would have to seek permission from the court.

In a short interview after the proceedings, Enrile said his faith in the justice system was vindicated by the Supreme Court, which granted his petition to be allowed to post bail

Eleazar Reyes, one of Enrile’s lawyers, pointed out that the Supreme Court did not give the lawmaker any special accommodation but based its ruling on facts.

The court said the senator should be granted temporary freedom because of his old age and frail health, which did not make him a flight risk.

His lawyers also assured the high court would not run away from his cases.

For his part, Enrile said his priority now would be to return to his duties, though he wasn't sure exactly when he would return to the Senate.

Before his release on Thursday, Enrile had been detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) General Hospital in Camp Crame for a little over a year.

Two of his co-accused — Sens. Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon "Bong" Revila — remain detained in Camp Crame, at the PNP Custodial Center.

Reyes said Enrile was looking forward to participate in deliberations on issues he considers most relevant, such as the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Meanwhile, the lawmaker first went back to his house in Makati.

VP Binay welcomes Enrile's release

Asked for his reaction to the release, Vice President Jejomar Binay said he would expect Enrile to defend him in the Senate.

Binay and his son, Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr., among others, have been accused of being involved in several anomalous transactions at the Makati City Hall, which have been the focus of hearings at the Blue Ribbon Subcommittee for a year now.

“Palagay ko sa pagtingin at pag-alaga sa akin ni JPE, di ko na kailangan banggitin. Siguro pwede ko na sabihin na khit paano tutulungan niya ako sa mga hinaharap kong kasinungalingan,” Binay said.

[Translation: "I think, by how JPE sees me and takes care of me — I need not say it — I can probably say now that somehow he would help me out in these lies that I'm facing."]

He added that Enrile was like a father to him, recalling how the senator encouraged him to run for the vice presidency in 2010.

“At ang laki ng respeto ko doon. At isa yun sa pinakinggan ko nung ako nagkandidato na VP. Ang sabi niya: 'Jojo, magkandidato ka na lang na VP kasi gusto ko nung president',” Binay said.

[Translation: "I have much respect for him. He’s one of those I listened to when I ran for VP. He told me: 'Jojo, you should run for VP, because what I was really want is to be president'."]

Binay said he was also hoping that Enrile would help him in his campaign for the 2016 elections.

CNN Philippines’ AC Nicholls and Anna Estanislao contributed to this report.