Lawmakers: Arroyo may not personally appear before DoJ-Comelec panel on poll fraud
MANILA, Philippines—Lawmakers said on Tuesday that Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo need not personally appear in the preliminary investigation being conducted by the Department of Justice (DoJ) on her possible violations of the election law.
Tupas, chairman of the House committee on justice, said the two subpoenas issued by the DoJ to Arroyo Monday and served at the House of Representatives Tuesday was a valid exercise of its quasi-judicial function.
“The House has to allow its member to participate in a hearing to defend herself. However, she need not personally appear at the DoJ preliminary investigation as she can just send her lawyers. She cannot be forced to personally appear,” Tupas said in a text message to the Inquirer.
Manila Rep. Amado Bagatsing said the former president should not be forced to attend out of compassion and humanitarian consideration considering her medical condition.
“I don’t think she will evade the charges. There is still no case in court but if she wants to go (to the DoJ), that’s fine… we should not force her,” he said.
Bagatsing said he believed that Arroyo was determined to fight her accusers in court and therefore must not be considered a flight risk.
“Humaharap naman siya. Matagal pa ’yang mga kasong iyan. Tingnan mo Marcos, wala pang conviction (She is facing all the charges. These will take long to resolve. Look at Marcos, until now we still don’t have a conviction),” he said.
Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya said it would be in the best interest of Arroyo to actively participate in the preliminary investigation if her health would permit it.
“The nation will be closely watching these events. I’m quite sure due process shall be accorded to all parties. It shall be a good opportunity (also) to clear her name and answer all the allegations (against her),” Abaya said.
Quezon Rep. Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III said the issuance of subpoena to Arroyo showed that the administration recognized her rights by giving her due process.
“She now has the opportunity to answer and rebuke the charges against her by submitting a counter-affidavit and evidence to support the position,” Tañada said.
The two subpoenas, which required Arroyo to appear before the DoJ on November 3 at 2 p.m. and received by the House Office of the Secretary General, were in connection with two election cases – Commission on Elections Case No. 001-2011 for electoral sabotage/violation of the Omnibus Election Code, and Comelec Case No. 002-2011 for the electral fraud complaint filed by Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.
Both subpoenas were signed by a five-member investigating panel led by Prosecutor General Claro Arellano as chairman. The other panel members are Laguna provincial prosecutor George Dee, Pasig City Prosecutor Jacinto Ang, and Comelec lawyers Michael Villaret and Arturo Fortes as members.
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