Political Law

Juan Ponce Enrile vs Jaime Salazar

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G.R. No. 92163 – 186 SCRA 217 – Political Law – Separation of Powers – SC Cannot Change Law

Statutory Construction – The Court Can Only Interpret Laws

Criminal Law – Complex Crimes – Compound Crimes – Rebellion Absorbs Common Crimes

Remedial Law – Criminal Procedure – Bail; When available

Constitutional Law – Warrant of Arrest – Judge Should Personally Determine Probable Cause

In February 1990, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile was arrested for the crime of rebellion with murder and multiple frustrated murder. The warrant of arrest was issued by Judge Jaime Salazar. Said crime arose from the failed coup attempts against then president Corazon Aquino. There was no bail set for Enrile due to the seriousness of the crime charged against him. Enrile was then brought to Camp Karingal. Enrile later filed a habeas corpus case questioning his detention and alleging that the crime being charged against him is nonexistent. He insists that there is no such crime as rebellion with murder and multiple frustrated murder.Enrile invoked the ruling in the landmark case of People vs Hernandez where it was ruled that rebellion cannot be complexed with common crimes such as murder; as such, the proper crime that should have been charged against him is simple rebellion – which is bailable.

Enrile also questioned the regularity of the issuance of the warrant of arrest against him. He claimed that it only took Judge Salazar one hour and twenty minutes (from the raffling of the case to him) to issue the warrant. Enrile claimed that such period is so short that it was impossible for the judge to have been able to examine the voluminous record of the case from the prosecution’s office – that being, the constitutional provision that a judge may only issue a warrant of arrest after personally determining the existence of probable cause has not been complied with.

For the prosecution, the Solicitor General argued that the Hernandez ruling should be abandoned and that it should be ruled that rebellion cannot absorb more serious crimes like murder.


1. Whether or not the Hernandez ruling should be abandoned.

2. Whether or not Judge Salazar personally determined probable cause in the case at bar.


1. No, the said case is still good law. The Supreme Court also noted that there was actually a previous law (P.D. 942) which sought to abandon the Hernandez doctrine. The said law provided that graver crimes may not be complexed with rebellion. However, President Corazon Aquino repealed said law (by virtue of the power granted to her by the 1986 Freedom Constitution). That being, the Hernandez doctrine, which reflects the rebellion law under the Revised Penal Code, still stands. The courts cannot change this because courts can only interpret laws. Only Congress can change the rebellion law (which the SC suggested in order to strengthen the rebellion law). But as it stands, Enrile is correct, there is no such crime as rebellion with murder. Common crimes such as murder are absorbed. He can only be charged with rebellion – which is bailable.

2. Yes. There is nothing irregular with the fact that Judge Salazar only took an hour and twenty minutes to issue the warrant from the time the case was raffled to him despite the fact that the prosecution transmitted quite a voluminous record from the preliminary investigation it conducted. It is sufficient that the judge follows established procedure by personally evaluating the report and the supporting documents submitted by the prosecutor. Just because Judge Salazar had what some might consider only a relatively brief period within which to comply with that duty, gives no reason to assume that he had not, or could not have, so complied; nor does that single circumstance suffice to overcome the legal presumption that official duty has been regularly performed.

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