Electoral sabotage case vs GMA delayed anew
Perseus Echeminada (The Philippine Star) - February 8, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The trial of the electoral sabotage case against Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was delayed anew yesterday after the prosecutor filed an ex parte motion to postpone the hearings due to the election duties of Commission on Elections (Comelec) lawyers.

Judge Jesus Mupas of Pasay Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 112 granted the motion after Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Orlando Mariano told the court he would undergo the mandatory continuing legal education and no Comelec lawyer is available to replace him.

Mupas granted the motion but directed the prosecution to check their schedule to avoid delaying the next hearings set on March 7 and 14.

The direct testimony of the first witness was supposed to continue yesterday.

Susan Cabanban, former election officer of SK Pendatun, Maguindanao was the first witness in the trial of Arroyo and her co-accused former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. and former Maguindanao poll officer Lintang Bedol.

The former president and the other accused were charged with electoral sabotage in connection with the alleged rigging of the 2007 senatorial elections in Maguindanao.

The Comelec had asked the court last November to suspend the hearings before the May 13 elections because all the lawyers of the poll body would be performing election duties.

But defense lawyers opposed the motion, saying that postponement of the trial would violate the rights of the accused to a speedy trial.

Bedol’s lawyer Reynaldo Princesa urged Mupas during the Nov. 15 pre-trial hearing to dismiss the case  since there is continuing delay in the proceedings, saying it “violated the rights of the accused for a speedy trial.”

The lawyer made the motion after Comelec lead prosecutor Esmeralda Ladra said that government lawyers would be busy with preparations for the May 13 elections that would affect their court appearances.

She said they recognized the right of the accused to a speedy trial but they would also be attending to their election duties and witnesses would be deployed in the provinces to oversee the election.

“The right of suffrage of the people must be considered, not only the right of one person,” Ladra said.

But Princesa said that the elections have nothing to do with trial and the Comelec cannot invoke the right of suffrage because the right to speedy trial is guaranteed under the Constitution.

 

ANDAL AMPATUAN SR. BUT PRINCESA COMELEC ESMERALDA LADRA GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO JUDGE JESUS MUPAS OF PASAY REGIONAL TRIAL COURT LINTANG BEDOL MAGUINDANAO MUPAS PAMPANGA REP TRIAL
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