MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - Beating the 4:30 p.m. deadline, the Commission on Elections on Wednesday filed 2 counts of electoral sabotage charges against its former chief, Benjamin Abalos Sr.
Comelec lawyers brought in the information or charge sheet, bearing the accusation against Abalos and several other respondents particularly for alleged fraud committed in North Cotabato.
Accused of election sabotage along with Abalos are: Lilian Suan-Radam and Yogie Martirizar, former provincial election supervisors in South and North Cotabato, respectively; and Capt. Peter Reyes of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP).
A radio dzMM report, meanwhile, said the case was raffled off to Pasay RTC branch 112 Judge Jesus Mupas, the same judge handling the poll sabotage case against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The raffle was done electronically.
Abalos arrived at Pasay RTC earlier to turn himself in and face the charges but an arrest warrant has not been issued yet.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said the details of the complaint were finalized in an en banc session yesterday.
The en banc voted 6-0 on the resolution, with Commissioner Augusto Lagman absent during the proceedings.
The complaints against Abalos, Martirazar, Reyes, and Leaban are new. Radam, on the other hand, already has a pending case in Branch 114 of the Pasay RTC in connection with the alleged 2007 poll fraud.
Brillantes said they are convinced there was conspiracy between Abalos and the local election supervisors to rig the elections in favor of the administration party.
"Actually rineject namin ang recommendation ng (DOJ-COMELEC) panel, kasi ang recommendation nila, hindi kasama sa kakasuhan sina Radam at Martirizar," said Brillantes.
Prodded by the media, Brillantes also gave a brief message for his predecessor.
"Masama rin ang loob ko na ginagawa ko ‘to, trabaho lang," he said.
From his burger outlet in Mandaluyong, Abalos went to Pasay to turn himself over to the court, even though no arrest warrant was issued against him.
Abalos was accompanied by his wife, and son, Mandaluyong Mayor Benhur Abalos.
“Na-file na nila. I would not even wait for the warrant. If I have to voluntarily surrender, I would do that. I am a man of law,” said Abalos.
There, Abalos did not hide his dismay with his former colleagues at the Comelec.
“Itong kaso na ito has passed all commissions. Abalos Commission, Borra Commission, Melo Commission and Brillantes Commission. Lahat iyan they have the same findings. My name was never mentioned. Anong klaseng mga testigo ito? These are all perjured witnesses. Ito ang mga taong ipinakulong noon,” he said.
Abalos also had a message to the complainant, Senator Koko Pimentel.
“Sana naman makunsensya ka, to everybody, to all the commissioners for that matter,” Abalos said.
But the senator said Abalos should just defend himself from the charges.
Abalos' lawyers are now planning their legal action.
“Kung mahina ang ebidensiya, you have a right for bail. Klaro iyan. It has been proven many times sa jurisprudence. Klaro iyan kaya iyon ang aming gagawin ngayon,” said Abalos’ son Benhur.
This early, the Abalos camp has ruled out seeking either house or hospital arrest for the former Comelec chief. -- With a report from radio dzMM