By Christopher Lloyd T. Caliwan
MANILA, Nov. 18 (PNA) – The Department of Justice (DoJ) on Friday filed electoral sabotage against former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo before the Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC).
The criminal charges were filed by the Joint DoJ-Commission on Elections (Comelec) Preliminary Investigation Committee, which conducted the preliminary investigation on the allegations of vote-rigging in Maguindanao province during the May 2007 elections.
Also named respondents in the electoral sabotage case are former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan, Jr., who is presently in jail in connection with the Maguindanao massacre, and lawyer Lintang Bedol, former chairman of the Provincial Board of Canvassers in Mindanao.
According to the complaint, Arroyo, during a dinner meeting in Malacanang a few days before the election, “personally instructed” Ampatuan to ensure a 12-0 victory for the senatorial candidates of the “Team Unity” during the May 2007 national elections.
In turn, Ampatuan instructed Bedol to tamper the Provincial Certificate of Canvass of Votes (PCOC), Statement of Votes by City/Municipality (SOVM) and Summary Statement of Votes (SSOV) for Maguindanao.
The large-scale tampering resulted to additional votes for Team Unity candidates as high as 196,157 votes to as low as 86,122 in Maguindanao, the complaint stated.
With the filing of the charges, the DoJ-Comelec panel immediately asked Pasay RTC Branch 112 Judge Jesus Mupas to issue a warrant of arrest and hold departure order against Arroyo just as the Supreme Court on Friday ruled that the temporary restraining order (TRO) on the former president’s travel ban stays.
No bail was recommended by Comelec Executive Director Jose Tolentino, Jr. (PNA)