Arroyos, et al subpoenaed over electoral sabotage rap

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 24 2011 05:56 PM | Updated as of Oct 25 2011 04:16 PM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - The joint Department of Justice (DOJ)-Commission on Elections(Comelec) Preliminary Investigation Committee tasked to investigate alleged massive cheating in the 2004 presidential and 2007 mid-term elections has issued subpoenas for several people allegedly involved in electoral sabotage in the 2007 mid-term polls.

The subpoenas issued were for former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, her husband, Atty. Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo, former Comelec chairman Benjamin Abalos, and at least 40 other respondents named in a formal report of the DOJ-Comelec Fact-finding Team and a separate formal complaint for electoral sabotage by Senator Aquilino Pimentel III.

Respondents are directed to attend the committee's first hearing on November 3 at the DOJ.

Committee chairman Prosecutor General Claro Arellano told reporters Mr. and Mrs. Arroyo and the other respondents will also be subject of a formal application for issuance of a watch list order (WLO) to be submitted by the committee tomorrow to the office of the Chief State Counsel.

Last Thursday, the fact-finding team -- tasked to receive and evaluate evidence pertaining to alleged massive cheating in the 2004 and 2007 elections --  recommended that Mrs. Arroyo and 44 other respondents undergo preliminary investigation proceedings for electoral sabotage in connection with the 2007 mid-term polls.

Mr. Arroyo was only recommended for further investigation since to date, the fact-finding team has not received sufficient evidence directly linking him to the alleged poll fraud operations.

However, Pimentel's complaint named Mr. Arroyo as one of 16 respondents which is why the preliminary investigation committee is now treating him as a respondent in its proceedings.

Arellano said respondents will be furnished official copies of the joint fact-finding team report and Pimentel's complaint during the November 3 hearing.

Presence not needed

Asked if Mrs. Arroyo and the other respondents have to be physically present to accept the documents, Arellano said: "They are directed to appear before the committee, but they may also be represented by counsel since there will no submission of counter-affidavits yet."

Under the Rules on the Conduct of Preliminary Investigation, respondents are given 10 days from receipt of the complaint to file their counter-affidavits and supporting evidence in their defense. However, respondents are required to personally subscribe to their counter-affidavits before the investigating panel.

Due to Mrs. Arroyo's current medical condition, Arellano said her lawyers and doctors have to convince the committee in the event that she is unable to physically attend the hearings and personally subscribe to her counter-affidavit before the committee itself.

"She has to come here, if they are saying she cannot then they have to convince us. Then we will have to discuss how to deal with that," Arellano said. 

Subject to preliminary probe

In its initial report, the fact-finding team recommended that Mrs. Arroyo be subject to preliminary investigation proceedings "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, at a gathering in Malacanan Palace days before the 2007 polls.

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

Some of the respondents have applied to turn witnesses for the state. The preliminary investigation committee is mandated to evaluate their possible admission as state witnesses.