MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) - The joint committee of the Department of Justice and Commission on Elections (Comelec) presented today 16 witnesses to attest to the widespread fraud in the mid-term 2007 elections.
Fourteen of them were election officers who served during that year, while 1 was a computerized voters’ list technician.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes also presented former Maguindanao Provincial Administrator Norie Unas, who claims to have personally and directly heard former President Gloria Arroyo instruct former Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. to deliver 12-0 votes in favor of the administration's bets.
The election officers executed sworn affidavits saying they did not prepare the election returns (ERs) for the senatorial positions, but were made to sign the documents. They said they only prepared the ERs for the local positions, which was an easy thing to do since local officials ran unopposed.
Since the 16 appeared, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the committee may not need anymore the testimony of suspended Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Zaldy Ampatuan.
The latter claimed Arroyo had a hand in the 2007 poll fraud, having heard his father reveal of the so-called plans.
The committee has already started investigations into the supposed irregularities that year and also in 2004. – from a report by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News and Noel Alamar, dzMM