SolGen defends DOJ-Comelec panel on poll fraud probe


Posted at Dec 08 2011 08:47 PM | Updated as of Dec 09 2011 04:48 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court on Thursday resumed hearing oral arguments on the constitutionality of the Department of Justice -Commission on Elections (DOJ-Comelec) panel probing alleged fraud in the 2004 and 2007 elections.

Justices questioned Solicitor General Jose Anselmo Cadiz on why the Comelec, an independent constitutional body, was allowed to join forces with the DOJ, which is part of the executive.

Cadiz explained that nothing in the law prohibits the DOJ from helping the Comelec.

He explained how the Comelec and the DOJ had a fact-finding team and a separate preliminary investigation committee that looked into the alleged poll cheating.

"The preliminary investigation committee had a unanimous fnding and made a report to the Comelec en banc. It is the Comelec en banc whch had the final say on the findings of the preliminary investigation committee," Cadiz said. "So I think the premise is wrong that the independence of the Comelec was undermined in this matter because the findings of the preliminary investigation committee were not adopted in toto."

"What was sought to be achieved was efficiency and what was sought to be avoided was redundancy," he added.

Justices also questioned why falsified election documents were not included in the evidence against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Cadiz said the testimony of former Maguindanao administrator Norie Unas that he heard Arroyo order former ARMM Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. to rig the result in his province was sufficient.

"Those [falsified election documents ] are not relevant evidence for the indictment of Arroyo," he said. "For the finding of probable cause, it was the affidavit of Unas." - from a report by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News; ANC