MANILA, Philippines - A witness in the electoral sabotage case against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and several others has backed out and will no longer testify, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Wednesday.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said former poll employee Russam Mabang will no longer testify in the electoral sabotage case due to outside pressure.
Mabang was reported missing last week before Comelec officers could fetch him at his safe house. He was supposed to testify in the bail hearing of Mrs. Arroyo.
"Si Mabang di ginalaw. He decided not to testify. He’s willing to come back but we’re not willing to present him anymore. Maraming nakikialam, tinatakot," Brillantes said.
The Comelec chief said the poll body will still present former Maguindanao supervisor Norie Unas as a witness in the case against Arroyo, former poll chief Benjamin Abalos, former Maguindanao election supervisor Lintang Bedol and former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr.
Brillantes admitted that without Unas, they have no case against Mrs. Arroyo.
"Unas is the only link to GMA. Without Unas, wala kaming evidence against GMA," he said.
Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Malacañang is leaving it to the Comelec to ensure the successful prosecution of the poll sabotage case.
He said what the executive can do is to ensure the safety of witnesses if they avail of the Witness Protection Program under the DOJ.
"Comelec po nag nag-file nun, Comelec is prosecuting it so we expect Comelec to handle the job properly. It is an electoral sabotage case. The government has other things which [are] also priority for us. It is primarily an election related case and therefore the agency tasked to ensure the successful prosecution of the case is the Commission on Elections," he said.
Asked if the Palace is leaving it up to the Comelec to handle the case, Lacierda said: "Bahala (sila) in the sense that the Comelec is tasked… It is an election related offense. Expertise is with the Comelec. Comelec is charged to prosecute the case successfully. It is in their mandate."
He said the Comelec is expected to oppose the reported desire of Mrs. Arroyo to post bail. He said it is SOP for prosecutors to oppose the desire of a defendant to post bail. With reports from Willard Cheng and RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News