Another poll cheat case awaits Abalos

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Ex Comelec chair accused of consipiring to rig 2007 poll results in South Cotabato

MANILA, Philippines – Former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr is facing another electoral sabotage case in relation to alleged poll cheating in another province in Mindanao during the 2007 mid-term elections.

Abalos was initially charged in November 2011 for electoral sabotage before the Pasay Regional Trial City court for allegedly manipulating the 2007 elections in North Cotabato. He was arrested in December and was detained at the Southern Police District in Taguig City.

Named as Abalos’s co-respondent in the North Cotabato case is former North Cotabato provincial election supervisor Atty Yogie Martirizar.

But on Saturday, January 22, Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes said that another case will be filed against Abalos for allegedly manipulating the elections in South Cotabato. Former provincial Comelec supervisor Atty Lilia Suan-Radam will also be named respondent in the case that will be filed before the Pasay court.

This is the reason why we withdrew the first electoral sabotage case that we filed against Radam last week. We have to include chairman Abalos in the case because there was conspiracy (between them),” Brillantes pointed out. “Now, we will be-refiling the electoral sabotage case.”

Both Radam and Martirizar were subjected to a Comelec probe for submitting false elections results during the canvassing in 2007 but eventually went into hiding.

Radam however was charged in February 2011 as a result of the Comelec’s investigation.

Striking a deal

The two election supervisors eventually surfaced last year and attempted to strike a deal with the Comelec and the Deparment of Justice (DOJ) to stand as witnesses in the 2007 election cheating.

The Comelec however insisted on suing their two officials despite a DOJ recommendation to absolve them of any culpability since they have agreed to turn state witnesses.

Brillantes added that the poll body is also checking into the possible links of retired Comelec Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer and a number of their officers in Mindanao for what appears to be massive electoral cheating in the region in 2007.

We are reviewing the recommendations (of the panel) – whether or not electoral sabotage should be filed against them. Hopefully, we can finish this soon enough,” he added.

Abalos is presently facing an electoral sabotage case for North Cotabato, while former President Gloria Arroyo is a respondent in the case involving Maguindanao, along with former Maguindanao governor and provincial election supervisor Datu Andal Ampatuan Sr. and Lintang Bedol.

Comelec commissioner Christian Robert Lim and Law Department director Atty Esmeralda Ladra were named by the poll body to lead the prosecution panel that will pursue all the electoral sabotage cases. Prosecutors from the DOJ were also deputized to assist in dispensing the cases. –

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