Ex-Maguindanao poll chief urged to face election fraud cases
MANILA, Philippines – An official of the Commission on Elections called on former Maguindanao provincial poll chief Lintang Bedol to surface after the Office of the Ombudsman approved the filing of graft charges against him for election-related offenses.
Comelec law department director Ferdinand Rafanan said Bedol should use the trial to clear his name and tell the truth.
“Well, he enjoys presumption of innocence but is facing adverse public impression. If I were him, he should come out, rebut the charges against him and clear his name. Sooner or later, for those who are liable for any violations, justice may be delayed but justice would be served eventually,” Rafanan told reporters.
Rafanan received last week from the Office of the Ombudsman in Mindanao a copy of a resolution finding probable cause to file charges against Bedol for election-related offenses. Under elections laws, such offenses must be filed before the regional trial court.
The case before the Ombudsman was filed by the law department way back in 2008. Rafanan said he expected the Ombudman to file the charges in the next few days with the Comelec as the complainant.
Rafanan said the charge against Bedol was violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act that would penalize any public official who cause “any undue injury to any party, including the government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.”
Bedol is suspected of being behind the “statistically improbable” 12-0 victory of the Arroyo administration’s Team Unity Senate slate as well as the zero votes received by 18 other senatorial candidates in Maguindanao during the 2007 midterm elections.
He was also accused of being responsible for the disappearance of the original municipal Certificates of Canvass and provincial Statement of Votes in Maguindanao. One opposition candidate, Aquilino “Kiko” Pimentel III, wanted the documents produced to prove that he won the 12th slot in the senatorial race and that he was a victim of dagdag-bawas (vote padding and shaving).
Bedol was also believed to have worked with Comelec Commissioner Virgilo Garcillano in allegedly rigging the results of the 2004 presidential election in favor of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
In August 2007, the Comelec found Bedol guilty of indirect contempt and had him arrested for snubbing the poll body’s summonses, illegally assuming and losing custody of election documents, publicly challenging the commission to file charges against him; and boasting of his possession of firearms.
Bedol was sentenced to six months imprisonment and a P1,000 fine but he was released after posting bail and appealing the ruling. The Supreme Court upheld the sentence in December 2009 but by that time, Bedol, has already vanished.
In February 2010, the Comelec finally dismissed Bedol and ordered charges filed against him before the Ombudsman. The poll body also barred Bedol from holding any other public office and forfeited his retirement benefits.
Asked where he thought Bedol might be, Rafanan said he had heard rumors that the former was just “somewhere in Maguindanao.” Comelec Commissioner Lucenito Tagle told senators in February 2009 that he heard reports that Bedol was in the United States.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.