MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chair Benjamin Abalos walked out of a Pasay court Thursday, June 7, as he decried the presiding judge’s decision concerning his co-accused Yogie Martirizar.
During the hearing on Abalos’ petition to post bail in connection with an election sabotage case, presiding judge Jesus Mupas decided to hear Martirizar’s testimony both for the purposes of Abalos’ bail hearing and Martirizar’s own petition to be discharged as accused.
Abalos and Martirizar face an electoral sabotage charge before Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 112, the same court hearing an electoral sabotage charge against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
In an interview with reporters, Abalos clarified that his camp doesn’t want to bar Martirizar from testifying in his bail hearing. His camp, however, is against Martirizar testifying also for the purpose of her motion to be discharged as an accused, he said.
“Kasi under the information (on the case), sinasabi na siya ang nandaya, siya ang nagpalsipika, siya ang nag-alter… Kaya lang, sasabihin niya, ‘Paano, utos ni Abalos,” the former Comelec chair said. (Because under the information, it is said that she did the cheating, she did the falsifying, she did the altering… But she would say, ‘That’s the order of Abalos.)
Under the circumstances set by Mupas’ decision, Martirizar’s testimony could not be used against her but only against Abalos, according to the former Comelec chair. This has angered him and his camp.
Abalos, however, returned to the courtroom roughly an hour after his walkout.
Asked how hopeful he is that he would be granted bail, Abalos said: “An honest and God-fearing judge will have no reason to deny me bail.”
Martirizar testified on alleged conspiracies that led to poll fraud in the 2007 elections.
The court suspended the hearing at around 2 p.m. due to the need of Abalos’ counsel to attend an obligatory religious gathering for the Iglesia ni Cristo. The hearing on the former Comelec chief’s bail petition will resume June 13.
On Wednesday, June 6, another Pasay court granted Abalos bail for another electoral sabotage case.
Abalos served as Comelec chair under the Arroyo government. It was under his leadership at the poll body when the “Hello, Garci” scandal broke and almost brought down Mrs Arroyo.
The scandal referred to wiretapped conversations allegedly between the former president and one of Abalos’ deputies, then Commissioner Virgilio “Garci” Garcillano. — Rappler.com
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