Manila, Philippines – ALTHOUGH Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Renato Corona’s impeachment case is the most widely covered in the country at the moment, other high profile cases cannot be simply moved to the sidelines. This includes the charges of electoral sabotage against former president and now Representative Gloria MacapagalArroyo and former Comission on Elections Chair Benjamin Abalos. Rep. Arroyo is charged for massive cheating in the Maguindanao polls in 2007 while Abalos’ case is for his alleged involvement in cheating in North and South Cotabato during the same elections.
Both have expressed their intent to post bail, something that COMELEC Chair Sixto Brillantes said is not a right granted automatically to them. In an interview over my morning radio program in DWIZ 882 AM, Chairman Brillantes explained that since the charges against them are punishable by life imprisonment, it is a non-bailable offense. It is, however, the accused right to file a motion to fix bail “provided they can establish that the evidence against them is not strong,“ Chairman Brillantes added.
The court will have to go into trial to determine two things: whether or not the accused will be allowed to post bail, and how much that bail would be. Chairman Brillantes said that the accused would only be allowed to post bail if he or she does not have any other pending cases in other courts.
Chairman Brillantes said that they will oppose the motion. Since the decision would rest on the strength of the evidence, he stated further that they are confident that the defense’s motion to fix bail would be denied by the court.
PGMA’s lawyers previously wanted to delay their client’s arraignment but in a change of tactic they requested early arraignment. Though surprised, Chairman Brillantes said that they are prepared to go into trial sooner than earlier anticipated.