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It's final: Joint DOJ-Comelec panel that probed Arroyo is legal

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled with finality that the creation of the joint Department of Justice-Commission on Elections panel that investigated former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for alleged electoral sabotage was legal.

Sitting in full court, the high tribunal voted 13-2 to junk a motion for reconsideration filed by the Arroyo camp seeking to reverse a September 2012 ruling that upheld the DOJ-Comelec panel's constitutionality, according to SC Public Information Chief Ted Te.

The SC said the appeal was junked for being moot and academic since a criminal case had already been lodged against Arroyo, who had already pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta penned the case, which had two dissenters: Justices Arturo Brion and Roberto Abad.

Majority of the magistrates believed that the combined team of lawyers from the DOJ and the Comelec was valid and legal, but the dissenters argued that only the Comelec has the authority to look into the case.

The poll body had earlier insisted that it was the main investigating body probing the election fraud charges against Arroyo and that the DOJ was merely tapped to help and supervise the investigation.

In its September 2012 ruling, the SC, aside from declaring the panel as legal, junked "for being moot" the appeal filed by the Arroyo camp against the poll fraud case filed against her in connection with the alleged irregularities in the 2007 elections.

The Arroyo camp earlier questioned the legality of the joint panel as well as the watch-list order issued by the DOJ against Arroyo and her husband, Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo.

Arroyo, now on her second term as a Pampanga congresswoman, was charged with electoral sabotage along with former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. and former Comelec provincial poll supervisor for Maguindanao Lintang Bedol for allegedly rigging the elections in southern Mindanao in 2007 to bring a landslide victory to senatorial candidates allied with Arroyo. — Mark Merueñas/KBK, GMA News