Whistleblower, judge vouch for Macarambon’s integrity

Haj Abdullah Dalidig, chair of the National Movement of Free Elections in Lanao del Sur who exposed the 2004 electoral cheating said he is willing to face the Commission on Appointments on behalf of Macarambon, his childhood friend.

"I will vouch for his integrity. I have known him since childhood. He is beyond reproach," Dalidig said.

"I will talk to Senator (Panfilo) Lacson and whoever will oppose his appointment. Macarambon is the right person. Macarambon is very credible," he added.

A relative unknown, Macarambon, was endorsed by former Supreme Court Chief and Philippine representative to the United Nations Hilario Davide and reportedly by Lanao del Norte Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo.

Dalidig allayed fears that Macarambon will  follow the dictates of Malacanang in the 2010 elections. He said Macarambon is not related to former Rep. Benasing Macarambon who is a known Malacanang ally.

"Macarambon is not a bribe taker, He can not be bought. He always stands by his principles," he said.

Dalidig sees the appointment of Macarambon as "the solution" to the perennial problem of election cheating in Lanao del Sur and the other provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Since Macarambon is a Maranao, he knows the problem of cheating " by heart" in Lanao del Sur and ARMM, Dalidig said.

"Macarambon does not fear the local clans. He will decide what is fair and just. I think his appointment is the light at the end of the tunnel,' Dalidig said.

Another Macarambon colleague, Judge Orlando Gallardo of the Iligan Municipal Trial Court, vouched for his integrity.

"Macarambon hates the cheating in Lanao del Sur and is ashamed about it," Gallardo said.

Gallardo said every time they get together, Macarambon would always bring the issue of cheating in Lanao del Sur for discussion.

"His decisions on electoral cheating speak volumes of how he views electoral cheating," Gallardo said.

He said Macarambon is well respected among lawyers in Iligan City who even awarded him “outstanding judge” years ago.

"Macarambon adheres to the rule of law and he decides his cases quickly," Gallardo said.

He said he is also relieved that Macarambon was named commissioner. " Macarambon is not corrupt and will not be swayed by Malacanang, period," Gallardo said.

But Salic Ibrahim, chair of Citizen Care in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (C-Care), a poll watch dog, sees the appoitnment of Macarmabon in a different light.

He said the appointment of Macarambon by President Arroyo means that Malacanang "is preparing to cheat again" in the 2010 presidential elections.

Ibrahim noted that Macarambon’s endorsement by politicians  "is highly suspect."

"Macarambon was not nominated by the civil society groups, therefore, we are highly suspicious of his appointment," Ibrahim said.

Another opposition lawyer from Cagayan de Oro City, Manuel Ravanera, also suspects Macarambon's appointment.

"Malacanang has this penchant of placating the Maranaos, knowing Lanao del Sur will deliver the votes," Ravanera said.

Ibrahim and Ravanera may have some grounds for their suspicion.

Macarambon figured in a civil suit against Trans-Asia Shipping Lines, a Cebu-based firm, back in 1999. In its complaint, the shipping firm sought for a change venue in the breach of contract and damage case filed against them by Macarambon's son, Sonny Ambrosi, before his father's court in Malabang, Lanao del Sur.

Trans-Asia alleged that Judge Macarambon and his son got furious after they failed to get a prior booked accommodations in one of its vessels. Macarambon and his son allegedly demanded P250,000 for damages from the shipping firm — P150,000 for the father and P100,00 for the son.

The Supreme Court granted the petition of Trans Asia and transfered the venue to Cagayan de Oro City but Macarambon took cognizance of the case.

The high court  ordered Macarambon to “explain, within ten days from receipt of notice, why he took cognizance of the civil case despite the fact that it involved his son Sonny Ambrosi Macarambon, and it arose out of an incident in which he was personally involved, as well as to comment on the report of petitioner regarding his unjudicial conduct in that incident.” (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)