Editor-in-Chief, Dyaryo Magdalo

            When Commission on Elections led by Chairman Sixto Brillantes voted 5-2, or five in favor and two abstained, they enumerated the persons to be charged for electoral sabotage and these were Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Andal Ampatuan Sr., Lintang Bedol, former Comelec Chair Benjamin Abalos, former Comelec Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer, former Department of Justice Acting Secretary Alberto Agra, and former Maguindanao Provincial Administrator Norie Unas.
            But when the actual criminal information was filed before the Pasay City Regional Trial Court, the Comelec only named three as the accused: Gloria, Andal Sr. and Bedol.
            What happened?
            Did the Comelec play favorites?

Grand jury system much better

            In the United States of America, then President Richard Nixon resigned after he was compelled by the grand jury to appear and testify on the acts of wiretapping the meetings of Democratic Party at the Watergate Hotel and on the act of tampering the tapes.
            The grand jury is composed of 23 ordinary persons raffled off the community to serve as jurors whose duty is to decide who to charge in court and who to spare for innocence.
            So that any decision of the grand jury to charge anybody has not been questioned unlike the decision of the Comelec of seven persons that is now being questioned by millions as something that was done in haste only to serve the urgency of beating the Supreme Court’s TRO to the draw.
            Of course, if only a grand jury of people were the one that decided to charge Gloria, it is for sure that nobody among her rabid supporters would cry political persecution.

Doubts on Comelec’s motives

            Is this act of excluding others an indication that the Comelec does not have air-tight evidence to convict Gloria and all the persons they named to be charged in relation to the massive cheating that took place in the province of Maguindanao during the 2007 senatorial elections?
            Dyaryo Magdalo thinks so: The case against Gloria lacks evidence to convict her of the charge of committing massive vote shaving and adding in the Province of Maguindanao.
            Dyaryo Magdalo also thinks that the filing of the case against Gloria was done in haste to beat the Supreme Court’s TRO in the nick of time.
            Dyaryo Magdalo believes that the pieces of evidence gathered thus far are not yet enough against Gloria but the Comelec was just necessitated by the extreme urgency of beating the Supreme Court’s TRO.
            Nevertheless, the TRO of the Supreme Court, no matter the controversy it stirred became a blessing in disguise.
            Were it not for this TRO, Comelec and Department of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima could have been still sleeping now on their job of prosecuting the sinners of the ordinary people’s only treasure: their votes.

Zubiri benefited the most

            Now, the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) has already made a definite finding that massive cheating took place in Maguindanao that paved the way for Senator Koko Pimentel III to win in his protest case against Miguel Zubiri.
            The definition of the word “massive cheating” is so fuzzy if the law is read.
But it is clear in other provisions of the law that says of two kinds of ceiling: (a) those where the votes involved were not less than 5,000; and (b) those where the votes involved were not less than 10,000 votes.
          In the case of Maguindanao, Senator Koko has proven and the SET has concluded that more than 100,000 votes were added to Zubiri.
          So that it is mind boggling why the Comelec led by Brillantes failed to see probable cause that Zubiri committed the crime of election sabotage when it is very clear the Bukidnon politician benefited tremendously to be proclaimed the winner after his father, Gov. Miguel Zubiri met with Abalos at the Hotel Intercon in Makati.
            There is no doubt that of all the senatorial candidates in 2007 it was Zubiri who benefited the most because the votes that were added to him made him win over Koko.
             And if the presumption of evidence is to be followed, the act of Zubiri in resigning is an admission of guilt that he cheated. 

Joker, Angara benefited

            The massive cheating benefited all other Team Unity candidates, including its winners Senator Edgardo Angara and Senator Joker Arroyo.
            So why did the Comelec not examine Joker’s and Angara’s culpability or liability?
            It is not actually a question of whether the votes added as a result of sabotage were material to cause the victory.
So that it is not also material whether the candidates concerned would still win even if the massive votes added were to be deducted from the total.
            The crime of electoral sabotage does not require that the candidate who committed sabotage must first win.
            With these premises, Joker and Angara must also be investigated.
And there is that principle that is a part of the doctrine of evidence that says he who benefited from a crime must have ha hand in doing that crime.
So that if Joker and Angara benefited from the Maguindanao massive cheating, why not look into them also, Chairman Brillantes?

Chavit Singson as well

And taking this principle of evidence, then why not Brillantes as well look into Ilocos Sur Governor Chavit Singson?
It is still vivid in memory that Singson was first proclaimed as No. 1 senatorial race winner in Maguindanao?
Imagine that Singson did not even fare well in his own province of Ilocos Sur, yet he was No. 1 in Maguindanao and not one from the Genuine Opposition team won.
Singson must have been very lucky.
He was actually involved in the collection of jueteng and tobacco taxes during the time of disgraced Joseph Ejercito Estrada.
But Chavit’s big role in starting the uprising against Estrada that benefited Gloria made it easy for the kingpin of Ilocos Sur to be the state witness in the plunder cases filed against Erap to escape imprisonment.
When it was turning out later that the only other candidate of Team Unity aside from Joker and Angara who had the best chance of winning was Zubiri, the re-canvassing of Maguindanao votes were ordered.
So that Abalos ordered the re-canvassing to be done in Maguindanao and directed Bedol to do the task.
This order of re-canvassing was issued after it was reported that Abalos and Zubiri’s father met inside that hotel.
After the re-canvassing, Zubiri was able to catch up with Koko and end up proclaimed as the 12th winner in that senatorial election.

TRO mooted

       While the case was filed against Gloria, the country was gripped by the big controversy caused by the Supreme Court’s issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) that should have allowed Gloria to leave.
It is recalled that the TRO was issued even without calling the Department of Justice to present their side.
            The Supreme Court discussed the issue en banc and voted 8-5 for the issuance of the TRO with two conditions: (a) to file a bond of P2 million; and (b) to appoint a representative to receive pleadings, notices and orders for her.
            It was reported that even an hour after the Supreme Court issued the TRO, the lawyers of Gloria were already there with the P2 million in hand to post the required travel bond.
            While the lawyers were fixing the issues at the Supreme Court, Gloria and her entourage were already booking tickets.
            It was a quick move that they were obviously trying to beat something to the draw.
            De Lima stood firm to the point of arrogance by blocking Gloria and Mike from leaving the country, reasoning that she had not yet received a copy of the TRO and that the DOJ filed a motion for reconsideration.
In Friday’s hearing of the motion for reconsideration, the Comelec voted 5-2 for the decision to file the election sabotage against Gloria and company.
Immediately, the criminal information for such crime was filed by lunch time while a mass rally was progressing in the vicinity of the Supreme Court held for the purpose of pressuring the justices to recall the said TRO.
A few hours later, a warrant of arrest was issued against Gloria, Andal Sr. and Bedol.
This mooted the issue of whether the TRO must be followed or not.

Justice means all who sinned must pay

            Aside from the persons mentioned above, there were many others who actually participated in the massive shaving or adding of votes.
            Justice does not mean imprisoning Gloria alone.
            Others, no matter how small are they, must also be charged with electoral sabotage case.
            It is only the Comelec that is given by the Constitution the power to decide who to prosecute for election offenses.
            If the Comelec cannot bring those other sinners to the bar of justice, these officials must be equally guilty in the eyes of the people and conscience.
            Stealing one peso is theft. Stealing P1 million is also theft. There is no difference in terms of character. Both must be punished.
            It does not make the election sabotage less when committed by smaller personalities than when committed by Gloria.
            The election is the first block of foundation in every state. If the block is fake, the house of state will crumble.
            And to build a strong block for the republic, there is no other way but to make elections truly honest.
            Unlike the “Strong Republic” highly touted by Gloria that in truth was standing on a hollow ground.

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