Wrong target of Aquino’s anger over GMA’s bail
President Aquino is justified in his anger over Arroyo being out on bail.
But his anger is directed to the wrong person.
A day after Arroyo was released from detention, Aquino spoke about his displeasure with Pasay City Regional trial Court Judge Jesus Mupas.
He said Mupas was asking the “impossible” for requiring a corroborative testimony to the testimony of the government star witness,former Maguindanao provincial administrator, Norie Unas.
Aquino said it is “impossible” to obtain such corroborative evidence since there is no other witness to the alleged instruction of Mrs. Arroyo to Ampatuan other than former Maguindanao provincial administrator Norie Unas.
“Alangan naman nating isipin na magbibigay ng testimonya ‘yung dalawa laban sa sarili nila. So pwede nang testigo ‘yung isa. Paano kaya tayo magkakaroon ng corroborative, ‘yung makaka-susuog, makakasang-ayon doon sa binanggit na pag-uusap nitong dalawa? So medyo ang taas naman yata ng test na parang imposible na ma-attain dahil wala nang ibang nakarinig ng kanilang usapan doon sa issue ng electoral faud,” Aquino said.
Aquino never questioned the way Commission on Election Chairman Sixto Brillantes, Jr and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima handled the case.
We have said it from the very beginning that the electoral sabotage case filed against Arroyo in connection with the 2007 elections was so weak, it was as if it was meant to be dismissed.
That was precisely what Mupas said in granting a P1 million bail to Arroyo which enabled her to go home to her Las Vista home. She cannot leave the country as the Sandiganbayan has issued a Hold Departure Order for her in connection with other cases filed against her, one of them a plunder case in connection with the misuse of more than P300 million funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes office.
The Pasay City RTC, which is hearing the case, said on Wednesday that the case against Arroyo was weak, and that she should be released on a P1-million bail.
Ombudsman asks court to re-arrest Arroyo
Prosecutors from the Ombudsman filed a motion asking the court to issue an arrest order for Mrs. Arroyo after she was charged with plunder over the misuse of P360 million in Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds.
“The court believes that the prosecution failed to establish with the required quantum of proof that conspiracy exists on the part of accused Arroyo,” Mupas said.
Mupas said the credibility of Unas, the only witness to implicate Arroyo in the case, was “tainted with doubt.”
Unas admitted that the reason he agreed to be a witness in the electoral sabotage case was to be admitted to the Witness Protection Program, which necessitated his being dropped as one of those accused in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre where 58 people were killed, 34 of them journalists.
Unas, as the right hand man of former Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. was said to have been part of the planning of the massacre and cover-up after the tragedy.
The inclusion of Arroyo in the electoral sabotage case anchored on the testimony of Unas that he overhead GMA tell Ampatuan Sr., in a dinenr in Malacanang a few days before the 2007 elections to ensure that senatorial candidates of the administration’s Team Unity win in Maguindanao even of they had to cheat.
Unas said upon instruction of Ampatuan Sr., he ordered Election Supervisor Lintang Bedol to cheat to comply with Arroyo’s order. Bedol admitted cheating for the Team Unity’s senatorial candidates particularly Juan Miguel Zubiri.
Bedol, however, didn’t implicate Arroyo because he never talked with her.
“Si Bedol inadmit na ang instruction galing kay Unas. Si Bedol ‘di pwedeng magturo sa former President, kasi wala naman siya sa usapan na yun which took place in the Palace,” de Lima said.
Lawyer Harry Roque, who has filed several cases against Arroyo, said: “PGMA’s release is a black eye on Secretary De Lima and Chairman Brillantes. Even I note how weak the evidence against her was.”
Fortunately, Roque said Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has come to the rescue anew and had filed a non-bailable plunder case against Arroyo.
“Still, the image of PGMA walking to freedom sent a million words: impunity for the little devil! Thank goodness this will be short-lived. She will be back behind bars for plunder and please: let it be in a regular jail this time!”
Rep. Teddy Casino of Bayan Muna said the same thing: “The granting of bail to former Pres. Arroyo is a big slap on the face of Pres. Aquimo who just two days ago in his SONA boasted of his administration’s efforts to hold Arroyo accountable for her crimes.”
Casino took note that the court decision “ was made apparently because the government’s complaint of electoralsabotage was rushed owing to its failure to build up any major cases filed earlier by various citizens groups.”
Senator Panfilo Lacson said the judge’s decision was a sign of a weak case.
Taking a snipe at De Lima, who has been criticized for her penchant for publicity,Lacson said,“We cannot build a strong case through press releases and media interviews.”
“Rather, it takes hard work and the gift of skill and well-rounded knowledge of law, not to mention the rules of court and proper legal procedures to accomplish the same, “ he said.
Anyway, the electoral sabotage case has served its purpose. It put Gloria Arroyo in jail while a more solid case was being prepared against her.
But it leaves a bad taste in the mouth that an administration that presents itself as intent on reforming the judicial system had to twist the law to cover up its incompetence.