Witness in poll fraud case vs Arroyo surfaces

By Perseus Echeminada, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 11 2012 03:42 AM | Updated as of Jul 11 2012 10:11 PM

MANILA, Philippines - A vital witness in the electoral sabotage case against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has resurfaced and apologized after government prosecutors asked the court to issue warrant for his arrest for contempt.

Formerly declared missing, Rasam Mabang wrote prosecutors that he boarded a plane before his scheduled testimony after he saw armed men waiting outside his hotel in Manila during Arroyo’s May 21 bail hearing.

Prosecution lawyer Esmeralda Ladra submitted the letter to Judge Jesus Mupas of Pasay Regional Trial Court (RTC) branch 11, telling the court that they are satisfied with Mabang’s explanation and they are no longer interested in pursuing the contempt charge against him.

Arroyo, former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr., and election officer Lintang Bedol are facing electoral sabotage charges in relation to the alleged cheating in Maguindanao province during the May 2007 midterm election.

Mabang, a former election officer, was the prosecution’s witness in their opposition to the grant of bail of Arroyo, now a Pampanga congresswoman currently under hospital detention at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City.

Based on his sworn statement, Mabang claimed that he did not conduct a canvass of election returns for national positions during the 2007 elections.

Mupas has already terminated the bail hearing and directed the prosecution and the defense to submit their respective memorandum on the case and the motion will be submitted for resolution.

The pre-trial of the case was set on August 23.