Comelec asks Pasay court to deny Bedol’s request to use gadgets

March 23, 2012 9:28 am 

MANILA, March 22 — Prosecutors on Thursday asked the Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC) to deny the request of former election supervisor Lintan Bedol who is facing electoral sabotage charges in connection with alleged irregularities in the 2007 senatorial elections,to allow him to use communication devices such as laptops and cellular phones while in detention.

Commission on Election (Comelec) lawyer Esmeralda Ladra asked Pasay City RTC Branch 112 Presiding Judge Jesus Mupas to junk Bedol’s request adding that it lacked merit.

Bedol through his lawyer, Reynaldo Princesa, filed the request after his arraignment last March 13 where he entered a not guilty plea.

Ladra said the court should not grant Bedol’s request as it is similar to the request of his co-accused, former president and now Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to be allowed to use such electronic devices inside the presidential suite of the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City where she is under “hospital suite.”

Mupas earlier junked Arroyo’s request though he allowed her lawyers to bring their cellular phones inside the VMMC when they paid her a visit.

In his order, Mupas cited a ruling of the Supreme Court (SC) preventing anyone under preventive detention or serving sentence from practicing his profession or engaging in business or any occupation.

Bedol has been detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame since last year after surrendering to the poll body allegedly due to threats to his life.

He completed in January a six-month sentence for contempt meted by the Comelec in 2007 after he repeatedly failed to respond to summonses and appear in person during the investigations of the alleged poll irregularities.

Bedol has also filed a petition for bail with the court though electoral sabotage is a non-bailable offense, especially if the evidence is strong.

Only former Maguinadanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. has not been arraigned for the electoral sabotage charges after he was hospitalized last week for vomiting blood and difficulty in breathing.

Mupas set Andal’s arraignment anew on March 26.

During also the Thursday hearing, the camp of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo waived her right to attend hearings in the pretrial and trial stage of the electoral sabotage case filed against her.

Arroyo, through her lawyers, filed with the Pasay City Regional Trial Court Branch 112 a waiver of appearance, where she stated that she is "waiving her right to appear and be present at the pre-trial and trial stages" of the case.

"Accused further states that every time her name is mentioned in the course of the trial, she agrees that the said name pertains to her and that she will not dispute her identity with such name," she said in the pleading.

She also promised the court that she will be present when a final judgment has been reached in the case, and that she will not leave the country without prior permission from the court.

Also on Thursday, Arroyo's lawyers filed a motion to allow her an additional hour of exposure to the sun every day during the afternoon.

In a two-page motion, Arroyo's lawyers cited a letter from Dr. Victoria Javier, her attending physician at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center, who said that Arroyo had a vitamin D deficiency.

She recommended that Arroyo be given "an additional hour of sun exposure in the afternoon," aside from the current one hour of exposure she is allowed every morning.

"It is not only proper, but humane, that President Arroyo be allowed an additional hour in the afternoon to expose herself in the much needed sunlight," the motion read.

The Comelec did not oppose the motion when Judge Mupas tackled it on Thurday's hearing.

In a related development, the Comelec also filed a motion to compel Arroyo's doctors to submit a monthly medical abstract detailing her condition, as ordered by the court last month.

Arroyo's doctors were supposed to submit the first report on March 10, the Comelec noted, but until now, her doctors have not complied with the order. (PNA)

RSV/CLTC

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