Comelec: 10 new witnesses ready to testify vs ArroyoBy Jocelyn R. Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday said it has 10 more witnesses that it can present in court to bolster its electoral sabotage case against former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. claimed that the new witnesses, who are mainly election officers, will be able to give a clearer picture of what really happened during a meeting two years ago in Malacañang where Arroyo was alleged to have ordered the then Maguindanao governor to deliver a 12-0 result in favor of the administration’s Team Unity senatorial ticket in 2007.
The additional witnesses will also provide testimony to show how really massive the plans were to rig the 2007 vote, Brillantes told reporters Wednesday.
He said the witnesses would “more or less” support the testimony of Norie Unas, the election supervisor of Maguindanao during the 2007 elections who is the main prosecution witness against Arroyo.
Unas claimed that he was present at a meeting in Malacañang two weeks before the 2007 elections, during which Arroyo had allegedly instructed the then Maguindanao GovernorAndal Ampatuan Sr. to deliver a 12-0 vote in Maguindanao in favor of the Team Unity ticket.
Brillantes said one of the 10 new witnesses was present at that dinner meeting in Malacañang and would be able to corroborate Unas’ statements.
“Though the witness did not hear the conversation [that transpired between Arroyo and Ampatuan], he would be able to tell the court that it happened… that the two officials along with Unas really talked in one corner,” he said.
“If someone can say that they talked in one corner after the dinner meeting in Malacañang, that would show the credibility of Unas,” he said.
He declined to identify the witnesses, citing security risks.
The Comelec chairman admitted that the election body had to revisit its list of possible witnesses against Arroyo after Pasay Judge Jesus Mupas granted her petition for bail last week on the ground that the case against her was weak.
Arroyo was released on bail last week from the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City, where she had been detained for the past eight months.
Brillantes said the Comelec already had other witnesses aside from Unas, but it was perceived earlier that Unas’ testimony was sufficient to pin down Arroyo.
“Judge Mupas cited Unas’ uncorroborated claims… nobody can really corroborate it because the conversation happened only between him, Arroyo and Ampatuan,” he said.
But the new witnesses the Comelec was lining up would at least be able to testify that the conversation happened, he noted.
Aside from the additional 10 witnesses, the poll body was preparing for even more, “if necessary.”
“Primarily they are election officers, but we are also studying our list of possible witnesses. We thought when we presented Unas, it was enough. Now that the bail was granted, we are looking at our list again,” he said.