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Court urged to defer GMA trial on poll sabotage

Perseus Echeminada - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The prosecution team of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has asked the Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 112 to postpone anew the trial of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo because their witness will be unable to attend due to her poll duties, a court spokesperson said yesterday.

Arroyo and her co-accused, former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. and former election officer Lintang Bedol, are on trial for an electoral sabotage charge over alleged cheating in Maguindanao during the 2007 midterm elections.

RTC branch 112 spokesperson Felda Domingo said Comelec prosecutors have informed Judge Jesus Mupas that their witness Susan Cabanban, municipal election officer in Maguindanao, cannot appear at trial this Thursday because of preparations for the barangay elections.

Domingo said the court has asked the defense to comment on the motion.

This is the third time that the Comelec has asked for the postponement of trial because of the witness’ election duties.

The prosecution has claimed initial victory in the direct examination of Cabanban but the defense said the prosecution has to prove direct evidence that will link Arroyo to the alleged cheating in Maguindanao.

During the last hearing, Cabanban, who served as chairman of the municipal board of canvassers for Gen. SK Pendatun in Maguindanao during the 2007 elections, testified that she was asked to copy the entries of election returns in blank returns.

She, however, said that she had no direct knowledge of any tampering of election returns in her municipality.

Cabanban also admitted that main prosecution witness Norie Unas, former provincial administrator of Maguindanao, was present during the time they were asked to copy results in blank election returns.

Other prosecution witnesses who had earlier testified in the bail hearing of Arroyo were Elsa Atinen, Jeehan Nur and Christina de Lope, all municipal election officers in Maguindanao during the May 14, 2007 elections.

They all pointed to Unas as the brains behind the alleged operation that tampered election results in the province on June 15, 2007.

They claimed it was Unas and Bedol who ordered them to copy the entries in the certificates of canvass and statement of votes into new forms in the Maguindanao provincial capitol.

 

ANDAL AMPATUAN SR. CABANBAN COMELEC ELECTION ELSA ATINEN FELDA DOMINGO GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO JEEHAN NUR AND CHRISTINA JUDGE JESUS MUPAS LINTANG BEDOL MAGUINDANAO
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