SC upholds poll sabotage raps vs. Arroyo

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THE Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday junked the appeal of former president and current Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in connection with the electoral sabotage case lodged against her and declared the legality of the creation of the joint Department of Justice (DOJ)-Commission on Elections (Comelec) panel.

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The High Court dismissed the motion for reconsideration filed by Arroyo, through her legal counsel Benjamin Santos, that the case be reviewed again and returned to DOJ for preliminary investigation.

Voting 13-2, the tribunal ruled that the appeal must be junked since criminal charges have been filed against Arroyo before the Pasay City Regional Trial Court and she had been arraigned.

Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta wrote the decision.

The SC affirmed its September 2012 ruling that Arroyo has already pleaded her case by entering a “not guilty plea”.

The two dissenters in the case are Justices Arturo Brion and Roberto Abad.
The Peralta decision disposed of the case since it is now considered moot and academic and is now in court.

Brion in his dissent said the creation of a DOJ-Comelec panel is unconstitutional because only the Comelec is tasked to investigate election offenses.

Majority of the justices are of the opinion that the combined team of lawyers from the DOJ and Comelec to probe the Arroyo is valid and legal.

It was argued that the Comelec was still on top of the investigation. Hence, it cures the defect of the composition of the DOJ-Comelec panel.

The court pointed out that it is still the Comelec en banc which approved the filing of the information against Arroyo before the Pasay RTC.

It opined that the DOJ was just deputized and acting under the “control and supervision” of the Comelec en banc when they jointly investigated Arroyo on electoral sabotage.

The Arroyos questioned the constitutionality of the DOJ-Comelec panel citing its “unprecedented haste” in resolving the electoral sabotage complaint against them such as the outright denial of the panel of the motion to defer proceedings, as well as other motions of and the consequent termination of the preliminary investigation and submission of the case for resolution, despite the pendency of the petition and similar petitions with the SC.

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