De Lima to fight Comelec move to pursue poll raps vs 2 witnesses



MANILA, Philippines—Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said on Thursday, she was “extremely disappointed” by the decision of the Commission on Elections to pursue the electoral sabotage against the former election chief of South Cotabato for allegedly rigging the results of the 2007 senatorial elections.

“I’m extremely disappointed with Comelec that they did not allow the discharge of former provincial elections supervisor Lilian Radam. They knew all along that the reason why we charged former Comelec chair Benjamin Abalos Sr. with electoral sabotage is precisely because of the the proffered testimonies for Radam and [her North Cotabato counterpart] Yogie Martirizar,” De Lima told reporters in a press conference.

De Lima said the joint panel would be filing a motion for reconsideration to persuade the Comelec majority to change their minds.

“Otherwise, it’s gone. There’s no more case against Chairman Abalos. We just wasted time here. We struggled with this case, especially the DOJ, in the fact finding and the preliminary investigation. Then it will just be dismissed like that.” she added.

She said she has also asked the WPP director to draft a formal communication to the Comelec stating “very firmly” the DOJ’s position on the matter.

The Secretary said the DOJ would not waver from its position, adding, “We will see what will happen. Of course, our move will be questioned. Maybe Comelec will react; the camp of Abalos will also react; this issue might even reach the Supreme Court because we will make a stand on this,” she said.

Even if he were allowed to post bail, Abalos would not likely get out of jail temporarily as he’s been charged with the non-bailable electoral sabotage case, also at the Pasay RTC, in connection with alleged cheating that took place in Maguindanao during the 2007 elections.

Radam and Martirizar’s lawyer Nena Santos also slammed the four Comelec commissioners, all appointees of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who voted to reject Radam’s bid to become a state witness.

“The GMA (Arroyo’s initials) appointees are very obvious. They would like Abalos to post bail. [It’s] very funny because the Comelec en banc earlier indicted Abalos but they now want him to [post] bail by controlling the  presentation of the prosecution witnesses,” lawyer Nena Santos said in a statement sent to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Both De Lima and Santos said they were sure that Abalos would be granted bail by the Pasay City regional court, which has been hearing the case, because of the absence of Radam’s testimony.

Santos said the four Comelec commissioners—Rene Sarmiento, Lucenito Tagle, Elias Yusoph and Armando Velasco—committed “an impeachable act” through betrayal of public trust by preventing Radam, who has already been admitted to the government’s Witness Protection Program (WPP), from testifying

“We will file a motion for reconsideration for the purposes of filing an impeachment case later on grounds of betrayal of public trust in issuing a resolution, which is contrary to Republic Act 6981 or the WPP law,” Santos said.

The lawyer said obstructing the presentation of a WPP-covered witness was a violation of the law.

The four commissioners could also be impeached for culpable violation of the law by allegedly violating Radam’s right against self-incrimination.

“After Radam and Martirizar executed affidavits admitting their participation in the crime, which was used as basis for their and Abalos’ indictment, Comelec en banc turned their backs on their witnesses [who would remain as defendants based on their testimonies, which they gave under WPP,” Santos said.

Like Santos, De Lima also blamed the Comelec majority, saying, “The members of the joint team agreed that Radam and Martirizar should be discharged. Those who did not agree where those commissioners. They should not be interfering because they have already authorized the team to handle the prosecution. They should have allowed the team to make the decision.”

Radam and Martirizar earlier pointed at Abalos as the one who told them to doctor the results of the senatorial polls.  They have asked to become state witnesses in return for the dropping of the charges against them.

De Lima said the Comelec majority “seem to forget the very substance and the value of the testimony” of Radam and Martirizar.

“It was very clear that they pointed Chairman Abalos. Their claim is that they were just doing it on the instruction of Abalos and that they were threatened. We would not have filed the charges against Abalos if we did not use Radam and Martirizar’s testimonies in our preliminary investigation,” De Lima said.

“Now that it’s the opportune time to use the testimonies of these two people, why all of a sudden they don’t like them any more?” the justice secretary said.

Abalos had petitioned the RTC to be allowed to post bail. The Department of Justice-Comelec joint prosecution panel wanted to present Radam’s testimony in the bail hearing but they were not able to do so while she remained one of the accused.

Despite the Comelec vote, the prosecutors from DOJ filed a motion to discharge Radam and turn her into a state witness on Wednesday, which was the last day given by the court for the prosecution to present witnesses in Abalos’ bail hearing.

The Secretary said the DOJ prosecutors filed the motion to discharge Radam any way as “implementers” of the WPP law, adding, “We felt the imperative need to uphold the law and insist on the applicability of that law.”

She said this was “very clear” under Section 12 of the law, which stated, “The certification of admission into the [WPP] by the [DOJ] shall be given full faith and credit by the provincial or city prosecutor who is required not to include the Witness in the criminal complaint or information and if included therein, to petition the court for his discharge in order that he can utilized as a State Witness. The Court shall order the discharge and exclusion of the accused from the information.”

The section further states, “Admission into the program shall entitle such state witness to immunity from criminal prosecution for the offense or offenses in which his testimony will be given or used.”

“We think, and it it is our humble but firm submission, that this provision applies even if the primary prosecutor in electoral sabotage cases is Comelec because this is the law with respect to WPP. Our mandate as implementers of the WPP will be affected if our determination in the admission of witnesses is not complied with,” De Lima said.

Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes Jr., who dissented from the majority opinion, said in an interview on Wednesday, that he saw the need for Radam and Martirizar’s admission to the WPP required their discharge from the case.

However, Brillantes said, the majority faulted the DOJ for not first seeking Comelec approval for Radam and Martirizar’s admission to the WPP and that because of this, Comelec was not bound by Section 12.

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • wee

    Radam and Martirizar were mere puppets of the puppet master. Surely the puppet masters who architect these are far more guilty!

    • kolambogan

      It’s still a long long way before Filipinos could bravely resist the powers that be in any establishment to do the right thing in any situation as they are always in awe of the tremendous influence these power manipulators over them on their careers and source of livelihood for their families. Arrogance and subtle threats were always hanging over the heads of the underlings manifestly and throughly mastered by the bosses and tyrants of civil service.

  • gikiness

    Gloria has mastered the art of manipulation

  • AntiAko

    Let the actual perpetrators escape punishment just so that Abalos will be found guilty? Whoa, what a way to go, Sec. De Lima. 

    Well, maybe Radam and Martirizir had guns pointed to their heads by abalos so much so that they had no other recourse but to follow… But in the end, it was still they who did the dastardly act and not Abalos. I wonder why De Lima can’t see that.  Ika nga, “there shall be no tyrants where there are no slaves”..

  • Political Jaywalker

    The only way to get these bastards to do their job honestly is for the DOJ to order the NBI to look into the affairs of kotongmissioners este commissioners. I am sure these people especially Arroyo’s appointees have closet full of skeletons so they can spend time in jail together with their boss……..

  • jgl414567

    Those four GMA lapdogs still in COMELEC should be impeached and prosecuted just like Corona they are protecting Abalos and eventually GMA!

    • Job Christian Lim

      oh stop the threatening impeachment kaya walang nagagawa na batas sa senado eh! kawawa ang mga unemployed at mga nangangailangan ng basic needs

  • Shinigami

    If these two perpetrators are with Abalos and GMA why protect them? Turning them into state witnesses and De Lima doing everything to protect them would make Pnoy and De Lima questionable since these witnesses might recant and might say they were forced to say whatever De Lima wants, in that case it will be an advantage to GMA/Abalos later on…

  • kilabot

    there goes another impeachment threat. once again, bullying in action directed at the 4 comelec commissioners. i say go ahead, let pnoy’s prostitutes initiate the impeachment process. the commissioners should stand their ground and fight head on like the cj. nobody’s afraid of these bungling prostitutes anymore. they know nothing except suck, their expertise.

  • Job Christian Lim

    Oh for crying out loud stop putting the blame on GMA, Leila De Lima now you know how it feels to be defied like how you have been arrogant and without respect for the rule of law and supreme court decision… You dont deserve to be in the senate, and stop politicking, you two-face justice secretary, when you were still a human rights advocate, you advocate the freedom of life, now you have been poisoned by a small power, you think you are untouchable! get a dose of your karma

  • casaysay

    Administration BULLIES!!! Better for you people to speak only the language of law. Kung si Pnoy ang nagpa-ugat ng shameless at harapang bullying attitude ng administation na ito, better resign as president Pnoy, anyway useless ang performance mo.

  • Opel

    COMELEC should be renamed “HOUSE OF MAGIC” there are plenty of magicians in there. its like an OPERA, they tend to play different instrument in the same tune and sync. saka dami operator doon!

  • phantomofhope

    BS! DOJ’s 2 witnesses are not the least guilty as they have been acting as Comelec operators under many administrations

  • edlee1

    This is what we can expect to get from this stupid government, when they cannot win their case, they will blame others for not doing their job well. They forgot that in a democracy the majority prevails, they would blame the person when they do not get what they want, the comelec just like the SC is a collegial body majority decision should be respected. Just because those in the comelec are GMA appointee does not mean they do not have independent mind. Isnt it that Laila De Lima is GMA appointee before as Head of CHR? When she was promoted by P-noy she forgot that fact she was appointee of Arroyo before, and using her own logic, when she was head of CHR she do only things at the pleasing of her master.

    • Hurtlocker1

      Waaahhhhhhh…Sir, i bet you still wanted the Philippines under corrupt leadership.
      hayyyyyyys…anong klaseng tao ba kau…we should be thankful that there is one president who wants to eradicate the disease of corruption in the Philippine government.
      But u still against him!!

      • edlee1

        Sir, this is not about corruption, this is about the way they handle things!, the end does not justify the means. Their means of eradicating corruption is to blame people that they don’t like. They want all people in the government to tow their lines if you don’t they will say that you are a GMA appointee and you do not speak their mind, so you need to go. Is this the government that you want? that is authoritarian in disguise of Democracy. P-noy may not be corrupt but the people around him are not doing any better. Wala na bang corruption?

  • yatot

    Patay ka ngayon babaeng may bilbil sa mukha!

    Para ma corner nila si GMA, Abalos, et al. Nangako ka ano Delima na hindi isasabit at gagawin pang witness. Hahaha. 

    Alam na ng taong bayan ang dirty tactics mo.

  • EngrhansTeh

    im sure till the end of PNOYs term, GMA will still be blame for his poor performance…hayyyyy good governance blaming when something went wrong against their wishes. Tingnan nyo if the two witnesses ay mapakulong malalaman din un na they are just pointing Abalos so GMA will be involved…and those comelec people  in Mindanao are always doing kababalaghan whoever the President, and im sure GMA and Abalos has no direct hand on the kababaghan sa Mindanao kundi ung mga locals warlords and politiican who earned money from the Politician from Luzon because of money from politics… kaya ipasa ang FREEDOM OF INFORMATION para magkaalaman na.

  • bangxef701

    Delima can’t get what she wants and started whining like a sick puppy!

  • Garote

    Get rid of GMA’s appointees in the SC, Comelec and all other courts and tribunals. They are part of the remnants of GMA corruption that need to go before the people’s trust and confidence in our courts would return.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks



latest videos