Bedol under heavy guard in Manila
MANILA, Philippines - Former Maguindanao election supervisor Lintang Bedol is now under heavy guard at a safehouse somewhere in Metro Manila.
Bedol, who surfaced after hiding for 4 years, arrived in Manila at around 5 p.m. Thursday on a flight from the Davao International Airport.
According to ABS-CBN sources, Bedol was brought straight to a safehouse and was under heavy guard by security escorts.
It's not clear whether the bodyguards are employed by the government. One source said Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) personnel are securing Bedol.
Bedol said in an ABS-CBN News interview before his trip to Manila from Davao that he continues to fear for his life after he revealed incidents of poll cheating in Mindanao.
He said he decided to go into hiding because people involved in the poll fraud may want to have him dead.
In a telephone interview on Friday morning, Bedol said he is no longer afraid.
"Bahala na kung ano mangyari, sa pangalan ng katotohanan," he said.
Questions on the 2007 order issued by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for his arrest remain unanswered. He was charged by the Comelec for "infidelity in the custody of documents" after he allegedly lost election paraphernalia for Maguindanao province.
Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento told dzMM that the arrest order is now invalid.
"Wala na po yung arrest order dahil tinerminate na namin si Bedol last year," he said.
However, a few hours later, Sarmiento had second thoughts and asked police to arrest him.
Bedol this week revealed alleged polling irregularities in Mindanao during the 2007 mid-term elections, as well as the 2004 presidential election won by now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The name of Bedol, a protege of former Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, was mentioned in the "Hello Garci" wiretapping scandal.
He said he surfaced because President Benigno Aquino III seems serious in bringing to justice those responsible for the alleged poll cheating.
Bedol added that more than 20 election officers in Maguindanao are willing to testify about the poll fraud.
"Yes, tumawag sila sa akin kagabi. Sasama rin sila," he said.
He added that although he wants to be placed under the government's Witness Protection Program, he will not ask to become a state witness.
"Liliwanagin ko lang ang pangyayari. Basta sa lahat ng nasabi ko sa media, liliwanagin ko yun. Pagdating ko diyan, lahat ng affidavit na hindi ko napirmahan, pipirmahan ko," he said.
In an affidavit that Bedol sent to ABS-CBN News, the former election officer said all ballots and election returns used in Maguindanao in 2007 were fake.