Evidence vs ex-FG still ‘hearsay’ – De Lima
MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) - The joint Department of Justice (DOJ)-Commission on Elections (Comelec) Fact-finding Team has recommended for preliminary investigation the allegations of electoral sabotage charges electoral sabotage charges against former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and several others in connection with alleged poll fraud operations in 2007.
The Fact-finding Team -- tasked to receive and evaluate evidence pertaining to alleged massive cheating in the 2004 presidential and 2007 mid-term elections -- submitted its initial report to the joint DOJ-Comelec Preliminary Investigation (PI) Committee in the presence of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima today. The report consists of 81 pages.
"It's an exhaustive discussion... and this is comprehensive enough. I have advised the joint PI Committee through Prosecutor General Claro Arellano to immediately convene the joint PI Committee, perhaps [on] Monday, to consider this and take appropriate action from there based on the approved joint Rules of Procedure," De Lima said.
The report states that Mrs. Arroyo is being recommended to be investigated "for giving direct instruction to manipulate the results of the senatorial elections in Maguindanao by ordering [former Maguindanao] Governor Datu Andal Ampatuan, Sr., to implement a 12-0 result in the Province of Maguindanao in favor of the Team Unity Senatorial candidates, and to alter or change the results if necessary."
In a sworn statement, former Maguindanao provincial administrator and Ampatuan trusted aide Norie Unas alleged Mrs. Arroyo personally and directly gave instructions to Andal Sr. to ensure the win of Team Unity's senatorial ticket, even if it meant rigging poll results.
No sufficient evidence to implead former FG
Mrs. Arroyo's husband, Atty. Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo, who was linked to the alleged poll fraud operations by Unas and other witnesses, is being recommended for further investigation.
"Because of lack of clear evidence, hindi muna diretso pinapa-recommend for PI but for further investigation. But it's up to the PI committee if isasama na pangalan niya ang others. I cannot preempt the actions of the PI Committee on this report," De Lima said.
Other personalities recommended for preliminary investigation
Along with Mrs. Arroyo, the following were recommended for preliminary investigation for electoral sabotage:
For alleged poll fraud in North and South Cotabato:
- former Comelec chairman Benjamin Abalos, Jr.
- former Acting Regional Election Director for Region XII Michael Abas
- former Intelligence Service, Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) Region XII Regional Director Col. Reuben Basiao
- "Maj. Joey Leaban" of the ISAFP
- "Capt. Peter Reyes" of the ISAFP
- Atty. Jaime Paz, former chief-of-staff of Abalos
- Atty. Alberto Agra
- Romy Dayday and Jeremy Javier of the Presidential Security Group (PSG)/ISAFP
- Atty. Lilian Suan-Radam, former provincial election supervisor (PES) for South Cotabato
- Atty. Yogie Martirizar, former provincial election supervisor for North Cotabato
For alleged poll fraud in Maguindanao:
- Andal Ampatuan, Sr.
- Benjamin Abalos
- former Comelec Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer
- former Maguindanao PES Lintang Bedol
- Norie Unas
- "Butch," a personnel of Unas
- elections officers (EO)/assistants Estelita Orbase, Elisa Gasmin, Elsa Atinen, Saliao Amba, Magsaysay Mohamad, Salonga Edzela, Ragah Ayunan, Susan Cabanban, Russam Mabang, Asuncion Corazon Reniedo, Nena Alid, Ma. Susan Albano, Rohaida Khalid, Araw Cao, Jeehan Nur, Alice Lim, Norijean Hangkal, Christina Roan Dalope, Maceda Abo
Others to be probed
Along with Mr. Arroyo, other personalities recommended for further investigation:
- Bong Serrano
- Salonga Edzela
- election assistant Gani Maliga
- members of the special provincial board of canvassers(SPBOC) of Maguindanao Attys. Emilio Santos, Manuel Lucero, and Dinah Valencia
- PES Faisal Tanjili
- regional election director (RED) Remlani Tambuang
- RED for ARMM Ray Sumalipao
- Boboy Magbutay
- "Pobe" from Caraga Region.
De Lima clarified that it is not within the power of the Fact-finding Team to say who, among those who executed affidavits to detail knowledge and participation in the alleged rigging of the polls, should turn witnesses for the state, thus, those found by the team to have culpability were recommended for
"That is the job of the PI Committee," De Lima said.
"It appears that some of the personalities whom we recommended for preliminary investigation may qualify as state witnesses, as in fact some of them manifested their intentions to avail of the Witness Protection Program(WPP). The fact-finding Team reserves recommendation on that issue and leaves the matter of their qualification as state witnesses, or their inclusion into the Witness Protection Program, to the sound discretion of the Preliminary Investigation Committee," the report read.
Koko Pimentel's complaint
The report was signed by Fact-finding Team chairman Justice Asst. Sec. Zabedin Azis and members City Prosecutors Edward Togonon, Jorge Catalan, Jr., National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) representatives Atty. Cesar Bacani and Atty. Daniel Jacinto, and Comelec representatives Atty. Arnulfo Sorreda and Atty. Emmanuel Ignacio.
The joint DOJ-Comelec Fact-finding team also referred to the Preliminary Investigation Committee the complaint for electoral sabotage filed by Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel, Jr. against Mrs. Arroyo, former First Gentleman Arroyo, former Presidential political adviser Gabriel Claudio, former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Benjamin Abalos, former Comelec Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer, and several others.
The EOs mentioned in the report are also being recommended for preliminary investigation for violations of the Omnibus Election Code and the Comelec Rules and Regulations, without prejudice to their attendant liabilities for violations of the Revised Penal Code, Republic Act (RA) No. 3019 (Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act). and RA no. 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees).