MANILA – A Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge on Monday acquitted the former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Benjamin Abalos from charges that he manipulated results of the 2007 mid-term elections.
In its nine-page order, Pasay RTC Branch 112 Judge Jesus Mupas cleared Abalos after finding “reasonable doubt” on the two counts of electoral sabotage charges in connection with the alleged election fraud in North Cotabato during the 2007 polls.
”As a result, the existence of conspiracy against Abalos in particular cannot establish beyond reasonable doubt. Absence and any clear and convincing evidence to prove the connection of Abalos to these people had active participation, the same may be interpreted either way. Hence, the court cast serious doubts as to its probative value,” Mupas said in his order dated Feb. 2.
For his part, Abalos said that he was confident that he would get fair decision.
”Ever since I’m very confident. When you have done nothing wrong you have to fear nobody. I am also thankful despite our differences, between the judge and I, we had heated arguments, not only that, the contempt citations of me by him. Pero bilib ako sa kaniya, nanaig yung hustisya. Doon ako bilib sa kaniya, yung kaniyang personal…did not influence his decision,” Abalos said in an interview after the promulgation.
Abalos was accused of rigging election results in several provinces during the 2007 national elections purportedly in favor of the senatorial candidates from the party of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Last October, Abalos was also acquitted from the case alleging him of tampering election results, this time in South Cotabato during the 2007 elections.
Judge Eugenia Dela Cruz of the Pasay RTC Branch 117 said in a 48-page resolution that the prosecution “failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt” Abalos’ involvement in the election result rigging.
The former Comelec chair was accused of conspiring with lawyer Lilian Radam, South Cotabato’s provincial election supervisor, to give a favorable result to the administration-backed Team Unity aspiring senator at the time.
But Dela Cruz said that Radam’s testimony “failed to prove the existence of conspiracy among the accused but more importantly was unable to establish the participation of accused Abalos in the commission of the crimes.”