Witness vs Arroyo in poll case is safe, but…
The Maguindanao election officer who failed to show up at the bail hearings for the electoral sabotage case against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is safe, according to Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr.
However, Russam Mabang, the Comelec officer of Pandag town, is refusing to testify, he said.
“We already know where he is. He just doesn’t want to testify. He’s with his relatives. He said he has lots of relatives who are pressuring him not to testify so we’re not going to present him anymore,” Brillantes said.
Mabang was supposed to have been the last of the 10 municipal election officers to be presented by the joint Comelec-Department of Justice prosecution panel before the Pasay City Regional Trial Court to support the panel’s opposition to the bail petition filed by Arroyo and her co-accused, former Comelec Chair Benjamin Abalos Sr., former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. and former Maguindanao provincial election supervisor Lintang Bedol.
Brillantes denied that the Comelec was forcing Mabang to testify. “We’re not pressuring him. We even brought him here at the Comelec’s expense since he’s our employee,” he said.
The Comelec’s star witness in the case, former provincial administrator Norie Unas, was supposed to be presented at the May 31 hearing.
However, when Mabang failed to show up, the prosecution panel decided not to present Unas for security reasons.
However, during the May 31 hearing, Judge Jesus Mupas ordered the prosecution to rest their case. The prosecution has appealed the court’s decision so it can present Unas.
According to Brillantes, Mabang’s testimony was “not that important” and would only corroborate the testimony of Unas, who claimed to have heard Arroyo instructing Ampatuan to secure the victory in Maguindanao of all administration candidates in the 2007 senatorial elections.