Mike Arroyo petitions SC to void DOJ, Comelec panels
Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo’s lawyers on Friday asked the Supreme Court to declare as “null and void for being unconstitutional and illegal” a joint order by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Commission on Elections (Comelec) that formed fact-finding and preliminary investigation panels to look into the alleged fraud in the 2004 and 2007 elections.
In the petition filed by Ferdinand Topacio and Joselito Lomangaya, the joint panels were described as “a kangaroo court designed with the sole purpose of persecuting the former first gentleman and his ailing wife … through the instrumentality of the heads of both the DOJ and the Comelec who have already prejudged the guilt of the Arroyos.”
Pimentel’s poll lawyers
Mike Arroyo said through his lawyers that the Aug. 15 order creating the joint panels should be declared null and void because both Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. had acted as lawyers for Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III in his complaint claiming that he was cheated during the 2007 elections.
He said that Brillantes was also the lawyer for the late actor Fernando Poe Jr., who claimed to have lost to his wife in 2004 due to poll fraud.
“It would seem that recent jurisprudential lessons have been this early lost on the administration,” Mike Arroyo said in his petition, citing President Aquino’s Executive Order No. 1 creating the truth commission, which was eventually struck down as unconstitutional.
“Indeed, the resemblance between Executive Order No. 1 and the Comelec-DOJ Joint Order No. 001-2011 is eerie—nay, spine-chilling— right down to their serial number,” he said.
He pointed out that “just like the invalidated truth commission, which was created to investigate reports of alleged graft during the previous administration, the joint panel was formed specifically to probe alleged poll fraud during the last administration.”
“This is discriminatory and forbidden under the Bill of Rights of the Constitution,” he said, adding:
“One gets the strange feeling that Joint Order No. 001 is nothing but Executive Order No. 1 ‘Part Two’ in show business parlance, a badly written sequel wherein the executive is trying to do a remake of a directive that has flopped, having failed the test of constitutionality.”
The joint preliminary investigation panel is to hear Pimentel’s complaint against the Arroyos and 21 other respondents on Monday.
De Lima said the government was ready to defend the creation of the joint panels. She assailed the Arroyo camp for raising the issue now that the fact-finding stage had been completed and the preliminary investigation was under way.
“We’ll just respond to that [petition]. So why are they doing these things? [They’re] blocking the determination of their accountability. This is just another attempt for them to frustrate the whole process. They’re resorting now to technicalities,” she said.
De Lima said that in the electoral sabotage case that the Arroyos and other respondents were facing, the Comelec had the primary jurisdiction but that it could deputize the DOJ.
“Since the alleged acts of electoral fraud are a combination of election offenses and violation of penal laws, we deemed it legally expedient to form a joint committee,” she said.
Not being singled out
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez denied that the poll body was singling out the Arroyos in the investigation.
“The Comelec does not intend to pin down any person. We are not focused on just one or two persons but on the allegations that cheating happened in 2004 and 2007. The purpose of the panel is to find out who orchestrated [and] perpetrated the fraud. That is it. No intent to single anyone out,” he said.
Jimenez also said Brillantes had never said that Arroyo would be in jail by Christmas.