Thursday , May 24, 2018

Arroyo loses bid to junk poll sabotage case

MANILA -- Majority of the Supreme Court (SC) justices recently ruled that former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo cannot escape prosecution for electoral sabotage despite claiming that the case was hastily prepared.

A Court source said the justices noted that they can no longer nullify the charges filed by the Department of Justice-Commission on Elections (Comelec) panel since Arroyo already pleaded not guilty to the case in February.

In fact, Arroyo now enjoys temporary freedom after Judge Jesus Mupas of the Pasay City Regional Trial Court branch 112 granted her request to post bail on account that the prosecution failed to present corroborative evidence to pin her down for poll fraud.

This means Arroyo's petition has been rendered moot and academic although the decision reached on September 18 has yet to be released by the Court pending clearance from Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, said the source.

The SC also ruled that the panel was legal and constitutional since it was the Comelec, tasked by law to initiate cases on electoral offenses, which pursued the investigation and filed the information before the Pasay City court.

Four justices, all of them Arroyo appointees, dissented in the ruling. They were Justices Arturo Brion, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Roberto Abad, and Jose Mendoza.

Earlier, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said they will insist on the credibility of the testimonies of star witness Norie Unas, over the role of Arroyo in the rigging of 2007 senatorial election results in Maguindanao.

Brillantes disagreed with Mupas's position that the statement of Unas should be corroborated since it was only him, Arroyo and then Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. who were present when the supposed instruction from the Chief Executive to manipulate the poll results were given.

The Comelec also promised to enhance the line-up of witnesses against the Pampanga lawmaker and co-accused. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)