Court accepts Comelec’s state witness in electoral sabotage case vs AbalosBy Miko Morelos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines — The Pasay City Regional Trial Court has allowed a former Commission on Elections (Comelec) official to be discharged from the list of accused and turn state witness against former Comelec chief Benjamin Abalos Sr. who is facing a string of cases over the alleged rigging of the 2007 senatorial race.
In a four-page order, Pasay RTC Branch 112 Judge Jesus Mupas sided with the prosecution’s contention deeming the testimony of lawyer Yogie Martirizar, who used to be North Cotabato’s election supervisor, as an “absolute necessity” to the government’s case.
“Upon a careful examination of the sworn statement made by the accused Attorney Yogie Martirizar … this court is satisfied that the averments and propositions of the prosecution … are borne out and substantially supported by facts and relevant evidence,” the court said.
In upholding the arguments of the prosecution, Mupas allowed Martirizar to be dropped from the rap sheet and become a state witness in the case against Abalos.
The court said the former provincial election supervisor executed a sworn affidavit where she testified that Abalos “personally instructed [her] … to give a ‘12-0’ result for Team Unity,” the administration candidates for the Senate.
She claimed that Capt. Peter Reyes, a military intelligence agent, kept close tabs on her to ensure she did as she was told.
Martirizar also testified in her affidavit that she was made to sign and place her thumb marks on spurious election documents “at gunpoint,” and these records were taken by “three unidentified men.”
Abalos, through his lawyers Roberto Bermejo and Abraham Espejo, rejected the prosecution’s assertion that Martirizar be discharged, saying that she appeared to have the most guilt in the case.
Most if not all the evidence in the charge sheet “directly point[ed]” to her, the court noted.
Defense lawyers also raised technical matters in their opposition, questioning the capacity of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to file pleadings in the case. They said the lead prosecutor in the case should be the Comelec.
The court said the commission en banc, through a joint resolution with the justice department, created a joint panel specifically tasked to investigate the alleged irregularities during the 2004 and 2007 national elections.
As such, it allowed the DOJ to file relevant pleadings to the case.
Abalos is accused of manipulating the senatorial election results in North Cotabato, purportedly ordering an improbable “12-0” sweep in the province.