Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was able to secure temporary liberty when Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Jesus Mupas allowed her to post bail. The RTC said that the prosecution failed to establish the â€œrequired quantum of proofâ€ that Arroyo was involved in a conspiracy to rig the 2007 elections. This earned the ire of President BS (Noynoy) Aquino and suggested that the RTCâ€™s requirement is â€œimpossibleâ€.
â€œIt seems an impossible requirement considering that no one else heard them talk of the issue of electoral fraud.â€
Noynoy also asserted that the lone â€œwitnessâ€, former Maguindanao provincial administrator Norie Unas, indeed overheard Arroyo giving instructions to Maguindanao governor Ampatuan to rig the elections in favor of Arroyoâ€™s 2007 Senatorial candidates.
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Well, hallelujiah! Case closed! Since Noynoy believes in Unasâ€™ (uncorroborated) testimony and since he and his lapdogs such as Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chair Sixto Brillantes believe that Unas is a credible witness, these ought to be what matters in the case. To hell with the Rules of Evidence!
It amazes me how these Yellows seem to have a world of their own with their own rules that they embrace, that they expect others to subscribe to as well. This may have worked in the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona when evidence from anonymous â€œsmall ladiesâ€ and â€œgate fairiesâ€ were taken in by most of the clueless Senator-judges hook line and sinkers, but I think this time around when a real Court (as opposed to a Kangaroo Court that is the Senate Impeachment Court) that follows a set of Rules impermeable to the weasel of â€œSui generisâ€ is in charge, the Yellows may not be so lucky.
Section 30 of the Rules of Evidence states:
Admission by conspirator. â€” The act or declaration of a conspirator relating to the conspiracy and during its existence, may be given in evidence against the co-conspirator after the conspiracy is shown by evidence other than such act of declaration.
Based on Unasâ€™ testimony, he heard Arroyo tell Ampatuan:
â€œAyusin ang resulta in Mindanao.â€ (â€œFix the results in Mindanao.â€)
Sixto Brillantes asserts that Unas is credible as his closeness to the Ampatuans and frequent visits to Malacanang during Arroyoâ€™s time are undoubted. However, credibility isnâ€™t the only factor to consider. Again, under the law, admission by a conspirator against his/her co-conspirators may be given in evidence after the conspiracy is shown by evidence other than such act of declaration! In fact, even Sixto Brillantes himself previously gave signs that he knew this requirement all along. In October of last year, Brillantes said that Unasâ€™ testimony could be given strength if Ampatuan (another co-conspirator) will corroborate Unasâ€™ testimony.
As for Unasâ€™ credibility, I do not think his closeness to the Ampatuans and even to Arroyo would necessarily establish his credibility. As Maguindanao Congressman Simeon Datumatong said:
â€œSometime ago when Bedol came out, he made reference to Norie Unas as one of the perpetrators or those giving orders to do some cheating. So I asked whether his affidavit would still be credible in spite of that. And if that really is true, he might be facing some criminal action like the violation of Comelec law.â€
Also, lawyer Inocencio Ferrer pointed out that Unas made his â€œrevelationâ€ only after he was implicated in the Maguindanao massacre to which the Ampatuans are being tried. Ferrer said:
â€œThere is no hard evidence to prove any of the claims of Mr. Norie Unas â€“ just his belated and baseless say-so, now that he has been implicated (based on news reports) in the Maguindanao massacre.â€
So I wonder why Noynoy and Brillantes still think that Unas is credible in spite of Unasâ€™ belated and baseless say so after being linked to the Maguindanao massacre (as pointed out by Ferrer) and his direct involvement in poll cheating (as pointed out by Datumatong through the testimony of another poll cheat, Lintang Bedol)?
The bottom-line is that Unasâ€™ testimony needs to be corroborated before it can be given any weight. Perhaps this is a good time for the Yellows to unleash their â€œsmall ladiesâ€ and â€œgate fairiesâ€ to corroborate Unasâ€™ testimony. Only this time these folks need to show themselves and actually testify in Court. As for Noynoyâ€¦. well, he can again show his temper tantrums all he wants but the law still would require a conspiratorâ€™s testimony against his/her co-conspirators to show with evidence other than his/her mere declaration. Dura lex sed lex (â€œThe law is harsh but it is the lawâ€) and I would like to believe that this applies even for the Yellows.
Calling a spade, a spade…