Witness in Arroyo electoral sabotage case missing

by Atom Araullo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 31 2012 09:42 AM | Updated as of Jun 01 2012 12:38 AM

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) failed to present two of its witnesses during the bail hearing of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and former provincial election supervisor Lintang Bedol at the Pasay Regional Trial Court (RTC) today.

According to Comelec lawyer Jane Valeza, local election officer Russam Mabang has gone missing after initially agreeing to testify before the court. She says Mabang has also been unreachable since this morning.

Another witness, former Maguindanao provincial administrator Norie Unas, was also a no show at the hearing. Valeza says they have decided not to present Unas because of an alleged shoot-to-kill order against him.

"We have a strong case, kaya mukhang ginagapang na rin ang witnesses namin. Hindi na natuloy ang testimony ni Unas because of the threat to his security," says Valeza.

With the failure of the Comelec to present Mabang and Unas, Pasay RTC Branch 112 Judge Jesus Mupas has given the poll body 3 days to rest their case for the bail hearing.

The Comelec says they plan to file a motion for reconsideration so they can still be given a chance to present their witnesses.

Court legal researcher Felda Domingo admits that there seems to be no reason for the court to deny the bail motion of Mrs. Arroyo given the scarcity of evidence presented by the Comelec thus far.

"Para sa court, wala pang nakikita na dahilan that could warrant the denial of the bail motion of former President Arroyo," says Domingo.

Defense lawyers for Arroyo and former provincial election supervisor Lintang Bedol also see recent events as a positive development for their clients, adding that they are confident that the court will grant their respective bail petitions.