Bedol is out on bail

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — MAGUINDANAO election supervisor Lintang Bedol is again a free man. He was allowed to post P15,000 bail by the Commission on Elections a day after he was found guilty of indirect contempt.

The Comelec sentenced Bedol to six-month imprisonment and fined him P1,000 for defying summonses. Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos said the poll body approved Bedol’s petition for bail on condition that the beleaguered election official will make himself available anytime the poll body summons him. The petition for bail was filed by Bedol’s lawyer Andrei Bon Tagum.

“Kanina nakapag-post na ng bail si Bedol,” Abalos said.

He said Bedol still faces charges of electoral sabotage if the Comelec’s law department will find out later that the acts he committed is tantamount to electoral sabotage.

“Precisely, siya ay iimbestigahan kung itong mga kinilos niyang ito will amount to an electoral sabotage. We are not closing the avenue on that. Iimbestigahan siya,” Abalos stressed. He said Task Force Maguindanao continues to investigate allegations of massive fraud during the May 11 elections and is also conducting an internal probe to determine if field personnel were involved.

Outraged by the “faulty handling” of Bedol’s case, Senate minority leader Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. said he will file a bill removing the power to investigate complaints against election officials and employees from the Cemelec.

Pimentel said the authority to probe poll irregularities committed by Comelec officials and personnel should be transferred to the Ombudsman, prosecutors and the courts of law.

He accused the Comelec of “playing deaf and blind” to the “real” grave offenses Bedol having merely focused on “minor or superficial charges” for which he was meted out a slap-on-the- wrist punishment.

“The kid glove’s treatment of Bedol reveals Comelec’s wrong priorities. Obviously, it’s interested only in soundbyte, not in investigating the massive electoral fraud in Maguindanao,” Pimentel said.

Offended by the harsh criticisms hurled at the poll body, Abalos told critics to study their law.

He pointed out that they could not sentence Bedol to more than six months imprisonment since he was only convicted of indirect contempt.

In a related development, Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer said the Comelec is set to file charges of libel and electoral sabotage against two media personalities for disseminating wrong information regarding the poll body.

He refused to name the duo.