MANILA, Philippines - Branding Norie Unas as a fallen star, a lawyer of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said the prosecution star witness in the electoral sabotage case admitted seeing no cheating in the 2007 elections in Maguindanao.
“The [Commission on Elections] touted Norie Unas as their star witness. However, after his testimony yesterday, at best he was a fallen star. He categorically admitted not having been witness to any tampering or alteration of election documents,” Atty. Montri Santos said.
Santos said Unas is merely testifying against Mrs. Arroyo to save his own skin from the Maguindanao massacre, where he is implicated.
“A fabrication is a fabrication. Anyone can make up stories about how far he supposedly was, where and when, but without corroboration by independent credible evidence, it means absolutely nothing. It became clear yesterday that he came out only to save his own skin from prosecution for other offenses, including rebellion charges and the chainsaw massacre. Obviously, as witnesses go, Unas's credibility is highly suspect,” the lawyer said.
He also noted that under the electoral sabotage law, a person who is not a member of the board of election inspectors can only be charged for that case if proven that he conspired with a Board of Election Inspector (BEI) member.
Santos said Unas’ testimony is mere hearsay after he claimed overhearing Mrs. Arroyo supposedly instructing his principal, former Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., to ensure the administration’s victory even if it meant rigging the votes.
The lawyer also reiterated that Unas’ testimony is uncorroborated and self serving.
“In this case, the testimony of Unas only points to a supposed conspiracy between GMA and Ampatuan Sr., who is neither a member of any BEI or BOC. Of course, the testimony is completely uncorroborated and self-serving, but even if it were true, under the law, this is not sufficient to hold GMA liable for electoral sabotage.”
Santos said that the alleged conversation was never even alleged in the original complaint. He said no conspiracy has been established.
Raul Lambino, another spokesman of former President Arroyo, also dismissed Unas’ testimony as fabrications.
“The phrase kahit ayusin o palitan nyo ang resulta is a mere afterthought just to pin the former president. It should be noted that he admitted during the hearing that he feared being implicated in the case which made him decide to come out and testify,” he said in a statement.
“Unas’ testimony as expected is nothing but hearsay! He said he just overheard GMA give out 12 - 0 instruction to Ampatuan.”