Yearender: DOJ steps up prosecution of Arroyo, other erring ex-officials
By Edu Punay, The Philippine Star
January 01, 2012
MANILA, Philippines – President Aquino’s most popular Cabinet member, Secretary Leila de Lima of the Department of Justice (DOJ) again took the spotlight in 2011 and spearheaded the administration’s campaign promise to prosecute former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The DOJ last November filed a case of electoral sabotage against Arroyo, former provincial elections supervisor Lintang Bedol and former Maguindanao governor Datu Andal Ampatuan Sr. for allegedly rigging the results of senatorial elections in Maguindanao in the 2007 polls.
Arroyo had tried to leave the country to seek treatment for a rare disease in her cervical spine pending preliminary investigation on the poll fraud charges, but De Lima blocked her bid by issuing a watchlist order and denying a request for allow departure order.
The indictment brought Arroyo, who appointed De Lima to the government in 2008 as chair of Commission on Human Rights, to hospital arrest while attending trial before a Pasay City regional trial court.
The DOJ was criticized for alleged haste in filing of the case in court.
The joint panel of DOJ and Commission on Elections (Comelec) had ended the preliminary investigation only on second hearing and without the formal answers from Arroyo, who failed to submit her counter-affidavit after she was given 10 days to do so.
Upon approval of Comelec, Arroyo was charged primarily based on testimony of former provincial administrator Norie Unas, who claimed overhearing the former president instruct Ampatuan to ensure 12-0 victory of Team Unity in his province. Unas reportedly heard the instructions to Ampatuan during a gathering in Malacañang, days before the 2007 polls.
Apart from Arroyo, also indicted were former Comelec chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr., his chief-of-staff Jaime Paz, and Capt. Peter Reyes, of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) for a separate case of electoral sabotage in North and South Cotabato provinces also during the 2007 polls.
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