Ombudsman to file graft raps vs Lintang Bedol
After coming out of hiding for four years, Lintang Bedol must now face the music.
The Office of the Ombudsman on Thursday ordered the filing of graft charges against the former Maguindanao supervisor of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for irregularities in the May 2007 elections.
Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao Humphrey Monteroso issued the order after finding Bedol liable for the disappearance of election documents during his watch.
The charges would be filed in the Regional Trial Court of Cotabato City. The recommended bail is P30,000, the Office of the Ombudsman said in a statement.
Monteroso issued the directive based on a complaint filed by Ferdinand Rafanan, who heads the Comelec’s law department.
Rafanan had accused Bedol of unlawfully ordering his people to submit to him all copies of the election returns, municipal certificate of canvass, statement of votes and summary statement of votes that were generated from all the precincts in Maguindanao.
These documents contained the results for local and national positions during the midterm elections in 2007.
The documents later disappeared, with Comelec officials unable to find these despite supposedly stringent measures to ensure that these would be secured. Because of this, votes for Maguindanao were not transmitted to the Comelec.
Bedol on Tuesday surfaced after four years in hiding and submitted an affidavit detailing irregularities in the 2004 and 2007 elections. He has since been jailed at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
The poll body had cited Bedol in contempt and slapped him with a six-month sentence for his failure to attend hearings, illegal possession of election documents and for disrespecting the Comelec in media interviews.
Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. on Thursday said the poll body was securing municipal election officers Saliao Amba and Magsaysay Mohamad and technician Salonga Edzela who had issued statements supporting Bedol’s claims of poll irregularities.
The three are currently under the custody of the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
“We’re securing them because everybody knows who they are already. Their names have come out. Even their families in Maguindanao, we are also securing them,” Brillantes told reporters. “They’re sure to have threats.” He declined to elaborate.
Brillantes said that evidence from Bedol and his men could be used by Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel Jr. in boosting his pending election protest. Pimentel lost the 12th and final senatorial winning slot to Juan Miguel Zubiri.
Brillantes, who was a counsel of the opposition senatorial slate that included Pimentel, said he believed Pimentel was the actual 12th placer in the race, not Zubiri.
The Comelec chair earlier said he would inhibit himself from any formal investigation about election offenses in the 2007 polls. He added that he was even willing to testify about the cheating.
Pimentel has claimed he was the victim of vote-padding and vote-shaving in Maguindanao, but Zubiri contended that results there had been set aside by the Senate Electoral Tribunal and had no bearing on the final outcome.
Bedol claimed in an affidavit he submitted to the Comelec on Tuesday that he was told by then Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. about President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s instructions to rig the balloting in favor of administration candidates.
Brillantes has described the testimony as “hearsay” and needed to be confirmed by Andal Sr. himself.
In their statements, Amba and Mohamad recounted the falsification of results of the elections and the submission of dubious election documents that became the basis of senatorial tally.
Brillantes said that the Comelec would evaluate evidence gathered about the cheating and determine if election offenses can be filed against the people involved, including Arroyo.
“Who won the 12th spot in 2007 is totally irrelevant in the Comelec investigation. What is important to us is: Was there cheating? Who cheated? So that we can look for them so they can be sent to prison,” Brillantes added.
He stressed that the Comelec was still in the fact-finding stage.