GMA lawyers oppose presentation of Unas

By Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 04 2012 03:13 PM | Updated as of Jun 04 2012 11:13 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The lawyers of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo filed Monday an opposition before the Pasay Regional Trial Court branch 112 on the attempt of the Commission on Elections and Department of Justice to present former Maguindanao administrator Norie Unas as a witness in the electoral sabotage case against her. 

Unas was supposed to be the last witness of the prosecution against Arroyo, former Comelec supervisor Lintang Bedol, and Andal Ampatuan Sr., against the petition for bail filed by the accused. However, the Comelec-DOJ panel decided not to bring Unas to court last May 31 for security reasons.

Judge Jesus Mupas of Pasay RTC Branch 112 has yet to rule on the motions of both camps. He ordered the prosecution to already submit documentary evidence on Thursday for the resolution on the petition for bail.

The defense will be given three days by the court to file their comments on the documentary evidence presented.

The court will then issue a ruling whether to grant bail or not to Arroyo, Bedol, and Ampatuan Sr.

The prosecution's motion to give another date for the testimony of Unas will be decided by the court without prejudice to the filing of documentary evidence.

Prosecutors said Unas will directly link Mrs. Arroyo to the alleged massive cheating in the province of Maguindanao last 2007 elections. They failed to present Unas last May 31 after another witness, Russam Mabang, went missing Thursday morning.

The prosecution said they decided to keep Unas in his safe house last week, which stopped him from testifying in court.

The prosecution has already presented 10 other witnesses, but none have directly linked Mrs. Arroyo as having a hand in poll fraud during the 2007 elections.

The defense said there is no clear and valid reason for not presenting Unas in the court last May 31.

Judge Jesus Mupas asked the prosecution to present Unas in the afternoon of May 31 but prosecution declined saying it was not intentional with a circumstance beyond their control, and that it was too risky to bring out their witness during that time.

Prosecution lawyers also asked the court to issue a warrant of arrest against Mabang, but said they are having second thoughts and might just waive their motion since they have no idea where he is and who is handling him.

Atty. Esmeralda Ladra, one of the prosecutors, said they are quite confident that the 10 witnesses they have presented would be sufficient enough for the court to disallow bail for Arroyo and two other accused.