Comelec files electoral sabotage case against Arroyo, et al

from NAMFREL Election Monitor Vol.2, No.24
Voting five out of seven, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) filed on November 18 an electoral sabotage case against former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in connection with the 2007 senatorial elections. Two commissioners, Lucenito Tagle and Armando Velasco abstained, as they said they had not yet read the resolution.

The case was filed after the fact finding committee of the Department of Justice (DOJ)-Comelec panel on the 2004 and 2007 poll fraud wrapped up its preliminary investigation and found probable cause on the subject.

The Comelec included former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan, Sr., former Comelec chairman Benjamin Abalos, Sr., and former election supervisor Lintang Bedol as respondents in the case. Former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo was excluded due to lack of sufficient evidence. Ampatuan is currently detained for alleged involvement in the 2009 “Maguindanao Massacre” while Bedol is under Comelec-DOJ custody.

The case was filed at the Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 112 under Judge Jesus Mupas. The Pasay RTC later issued a warrant of arrest against former President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo. No bail can be posted for the electoral sabotage case thereby upholding the court to issue a hold departure order against Arroyo. The Pasay RTC has also issued a warrant of arrest for Bedol and
Ampatuan Sr.

It will be recalled that on November 15, the Supreme Court, voting 8-5, issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against DOJ circular No. 41, which gives the Department the authority to issue a hold departure order (HDO) against persons who have pending criminal case.

Voting with the same number, the Supreme Court dismissed the motion for reconsideration filed by Solicitor General Jose Cadiz against the TRO. The Court also sought a comment from DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima on why she should not be cited in contempt for disregarding the TRO and disrespect for the Court.

The Supreme Court also granted the motion filed by the solicitor general for an oral argument of the case. It will be held on Tuesday, November 22.

The issuance of the Pasay RTC of arrest warrant and a hold departure order prevented respondent Arroyo from leaving the country to seek medical treatment abroad. On the same day, Arroyo was served a warrant of arrest. She is currently under "hospital arrest" at St. Luke's Medical Center in Taguig City.

Abalos, who said that the charges filed against him by the Comelec were "very shocking," was also reportedly rushed to a hospital after an illness he had suffered a few years ago "came back" upon learning of the electoral sabotage charges that are non-bailable.