Abalos makes most of brief visit homeBy Miko Morelos, Niña Calleja
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Benjamin Abalos had a brief taste of freedom at noon Sunday after a Pasay City court on Friday granted him a two-hour leave from detention for humanitarian reasons.
Abalos spent the two hours bonding with his family and inspecting his sprawling Mandaluyong home.
Some 300 supporters gathered outside on Kanlaon Street in what Mandaluyong Mayor Benhur Abalos called his father’s brief “homecoming.”
But across town, at a police camp that has served as his home since December last year, a group of children Abalos endearingly calls his kakosa (cell mates) missed him so much one actually asked him “not to leave again.”
Judge Jesus Mupas of Pasay RTC Branch 112 allowed Abalos to go home from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to attend to pressing and personal family matters, including the inspection of his typhoon-stricken house and the celebration of one of his grandchildren’s birthday on Sunday.
The court has yet to rule on his bail petition on a charge of electoral sabotage.
Escorted by 12 uniformed Southern Police District (SPD) policemen, Abalos arrived at his house at around 11 a.m. and was met by supporters chanting his name.
Sunday was the birthday of his 27-year-old granddaughter Charice, eldest daughter of son Benhur.
All members of his family were present, including his 104-year-old mother Senia who lives in the family’s ancestral house in Hagdang-Bato village, also in Mandaluyong City.
Victim of ‘Ondoy’
“I’m relieved. I wanted to inspect our place because of our sad experience during the height of Tropical Storm ‘Ondoy’,” Abalos told the Philippine Daily Inquirer after returning to the Southern Police District in Taguig City after 1 p.m.
He said the killer storm three years ago submerged their house chest-deep and the thought of the floods happening again bothered him in detention.
It also bothered him that only his wife Corazon and a househelp were at home, with their children living in different places.
Abalos, 77, has been under police detention since Dec. 13, 2011.
He is accused with former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. and former Maguindanao election supervisor Lintang Bedol, among others, with conspiring to rig the 2007 senatorial elections in favor of the Arroyo administration’s Team Unity.
After addressing his supporters, Abalos appealed for an hour of privacy and went into his house. However, television cameramen and photographers were allowed to come in with him.
A little past 1 p.m., Abalos, with his wife and police escorts, boarded a police car and headed back to his detention cell at the SPD.
“This is my happiest day since lolo was jailed in December,” teary-eyed Charice told reporters minutes before he left.
“It felt good. I miss the old place. There were a lot of people, and I guess it was more about the excitement of going home,” Abalos said.
Abalos thanked the court for allowing him to come home on furlough, but discounted the possibility of a repeat unless something important came up. “I don’t want to abuse the privilege the court granted me.”
Abalos said he managed to adjust to a life in detention with the help of the children in the neighborhood who paid him daily visits.
As the convoy stopped behind police headquarters, the children scrambled to see Abalos.
He said the children kept him company and helped ease his loneliness. They eat breakfast and snacks together every day, said the former poll official, who knows the children by name.
Originally posted: 4:16 pm | Sunday, June 24th, 2012