Pasay court clears Abalos in electoral sabotage case
MANILA, Philippines—A Pasay City court on Monday cleared former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr. of rigging the 2007 elections in North Cotabato in favor of the candidates of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for lack of evidence.
Judge Jesus Mupas of Pasay City Regional Trial Court Branch 112 acquitted Abalos in the last batch of electoral sabotage case filed against him. Mupas is also handling the electoral case against Arroyo.
In a nine-page decision, the court said that while there was evidence that the results of the elections in North Cotabato were altered, there was no evidence to prove that Abalos ordered the alteration.
“A vivid examination of the testimonies of the numerous witnesses presented by the prosecution failed to establish any participation, direct or otherwise, of accused Abalos in the manipulation of the election results,” the decision read.
“No other evidence adduced can conclude, without casting doubt that Abalos had a hand in the effective alteration of the results,” it added.
The court said it cannot accept “hook, line and sinker” the testimony of state witness lawyer Yogi Martirizar, then chair of the Provincial Board of Canvassers of North Cotabato.
Martirizar said in her testimony that a meeting was held at a restaurant about plans to alter the election results in North Cotabato. She said she disagreed with the plan.
While other witnesses said they acted upon instructions of Abalos, the former Comelec chairman’s participation remained an “insinuation,” the court said.
“It is noteworthy to mention that in all these scenarios alleged by the prosecution witnesses, it was not sufficiently established that these subsequent instructions still came from Abalos. It was just presumed that the same is from him,” the court said.
“All doubts must be resolved in favor of the accused. Where the inculpatory facts and circumstances are capable of two or more explanations, one of them consistent with the guilt of the accused and the other one consistent with his innocence, the accused must be acquitted on grounds of reasonable doubt,” it added.
Last year, the Pasay City RTC Branch 117 dismissed 11 counts of electoral sabotage case against Abalos for failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
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