Zaldy Ampatuan says Gloria Arroyo cheated
After implicating his father and brother in the grisly Maguindanao massacre in a bid to become a state witness, Zaldy Ampatuan on Tuesday claimed former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband had ordered the rigging of the 2007 senatorial election.
In an unsigned two-page declaration, the former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) said he was willing to testify that the Arroyos directed his father, then Maguindanao Gov. Andal Amapatuan Sr., to ensure that three opposition senators would get “zero votes” in the province.
“Then President Gloria Arroyo was not the only politician who benefited and manipulated this system of cheating in the ARMM,” Zaldy Ampatuan said in the document, a copy of which was given to the Inquirer by his wife Johaira a day after the former governor offered in TV interviews to turn state’s evidence in the 2009 massacre.
According to Zaldy, then First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo summoned his father “for a meeting sometime in January or February of 2007 in Makati.”
The Arroyos were not immediately available for comment on the allegation. They are reportedly still abroad.
The former ARMM governor, who did not say if he had a direct hand in how the cheating was done, said the meeting took place in “one of the Arroyos’ buildings, could be LTA Tower.”
During the meeting, Zaldy said Mike Arroyo instructed Andal Sr. to ensure that then senator and now President Benigno Aquino III would not get even a single vote.
He said his father was given P3 million as initial fund for the operations. He said then provincial engineer Norie Unas was also at the meeting.
In their separate meeting at the Century Park Hotel, Zaldy said he asked his father why the Arroyos ordered him to ensure zero votes for the three senators.
Aside from Mr. Aquino, Senators Panfilo “Ping” Lacson and Alan Peter Cayetano were also targets of the operations, according to Zaldy.
“Ping, because he talks too much against First Gentleman and GMA and the Cayetanos, because the Arroyos helped their father and Sen. Pia Cayetano, but when she vied for the Senate position and their support was sought by the Arroyos, the same was not returned,” Zaldy said.
Votes to Zubiri
Zaldy said the votes for Senators Aquino, Cayetano and Lacson were instead credited to Juan Miguel Zubiri.
“The votes of the three were given to Juan Miguel Zubiri who, in the final results in Maguindanao, garnered the highest number of votes.” he said.
In an interview with Radyo Inquirer, Zubiri denied involvement in any move to pad his votes during the elections.
“God knows I did not talk to anyone to cheat for my camp and I never did anything of that sort,” he said in Filipino, reacting to Zaldy’s claim.
He also said the Senate Electoral Tribunal had set aside the Maguindanao votes and the count there had no bearing on his eventually winning the vote.
According to Zaldy, a certain Bong Serrano, who he said was the executive assistant of then presidential spokesperson Gabby Claudio, “acting under orders of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, delivered to Maguindanao P30 to P40 million and official ballots to be used in replacing ballots” during the canvassing of votes for the 2007 elections.
Zaldy said former Maguindanao provincial election supervisor Lintang Bedol, who had gone into hiding after the cheating in Maguindanao was exposed by some lawmakers, was the key witness to the rigging of the results of the senatorial race in the province.
“(I) can persuade (Bedol) to cooperate and testify on the people involved and on how the manipulations and operations were done,” Zaldy said, adding that “documentary evidence may be retrieved from Comelec (and) other documents may be with the election supervisor.”
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