MANILA, Philippines - Former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo on Monday cried foul over the decision of a government fact-finding body to subpoena him for a preliminary investigation into allegations of electoral sabotage in 2007, saying he should have been cleared instead.
"Since the joint panel found no evidence vs me (which was announced by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima), it was de Lima 's duty to clear me," he said.
Arroyo said, "That's really persecution, harassment, and oppression all rolled into one. How can that be when the fact-finding panel found no evidence against me? This government is terrible. There is no due process anymore."
Arroyo's lawyer on the electoral sabotage rap, Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, said, "I regret that we cannot comment yet pending formal receipt of both the complaint of Senator Pimentel and the report of the fact-finding team, except to say that this is just a continuation of the pattern of persecution being perpetrated against the former First Gentleman."
Earlier, Topacio accused Malacañang of destroying the independence of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) and turning it into an alleged "puppet" of the Palace by creating a joint panel of the Department of Justice and the COMELEC to investigate and try alleged anomalies in the 2004 and 2007 polls.
"The creation of the joint DOJ-COMELEC panel ... through a strange duck of an executive order, the so-called Joint Order No. 001-2011, fuses the COMELEC, a constitutionally-independent body, with the DOJ, which is a political agent of the Executive Branch. This is legally impermissible. Whoever conceived of that joint order must have been smoking a joint," he said.
"The President, as early as July, has already imposed a deadline of the end of the year for the Arroyo [couple] to be charged. Then, it made the COMELEC an adjunct of the Department of Justice by forming a panel composed of both DOJ and COMELEC personnel," Topacio said.
"The fact that they refused to close the investigation against the former First Gentleman, notwithstanding the finding of sheer lack of evidence against him, shows clearly where this inquisition is going: they will try to produce evidence against the First Gentleman by hook or by crook, even if they have to fabricate the evidence," he added.