MANILA, Philippines - Two former election officials are accusing former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Benjamin Abalos of having a direct hand in the alleged fraud over the 12-0 sweep in Mindanao of pro-Arroyo senatorial candidates in the 2007 elections.
Lilian Radam was South Cotabato's acting provincial election supervisor in 2007, while Yogie Martirizar was her counterpart in North Cotabato.
In their affidavits, Radam and Martirizar claim that Abalos ordered them and other election supervisors to rig the 2007 votes in favor of senatorial candidates allied with the Arroyo administration.
"Benjamin Abalos personally met us at Davao City and conveyed the same 'instruction' of 12-0 in favor of Team Unity Senatorial Candidates. He stressed to us that the said 'instruction' is from Malacanang," their signed affidavits said.
Radam told ABS-CBN News that they met Abalos sometime in April 2007 in Davao City.
"It's a matter of life and death. We had no choice at the time," she said.
They added that their regional director and some officers from the Intelligence Services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) made sure they would not squeal after discrepancies were noted in the votes from North and South Cotabato during the national canvas.
ISAFP officers who have been linked to alleged poll fraud in 2007 are Colonel Ben Basiao (ISAFP Region 12 regional director), Major Joey Leaban (ISAFP Region 12 assistant regional director), and Captain Peter Reyes.
When the women and former Maguindanao election supervisor Lintang Bedol were charged with electoral sabotage, they said it was the law firm of former Justice Secretary Alberto Agra that represented them in court upon the orders of Malacañang.
"[A]t one given time, the three of us were all represented by the Law Firm of Atty. Alberto Agra... the chief counsel for Team Unity and known ally of former President Gloria Arroyo," Radam's affidavit said.
Abalos has denied the accusations.
"I can't understand why these people are being glamorized now. Unang-una, they have been fugitives of justice for so long. Pagkatapos, ngayon sila pa ang lumalabas na parang bagong mga bida," he said.
Radam and Martirizar have been placed under the government's witness protection program, while authorities are evaluating their testimonies.