Former Shariah court judge details Arroyo cheating in ’04 polls
MANILA, Philippines—This time, Nagamura Moner said he wanted to set things right.
Going public for the third time in six years, the former Shariah circuit court judge on Tuesday testified on his role in alleged efforts to manipulate the results of the 2004 elections to favor then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Moner submitted to the Senate blue ribbon committee an affidavit implicating Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo in the alleged “massive cheating in the 2004 presidential election, specifically in the areas of Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Cotobato City, Sultan Kudarat, Tawi-Tawi, and Sulu.”
“In the statements I made in 2005, there were inexact details and additions which were made which I wish to correct now that I can freely talk,” he said in his eight-page affidavit.
“What is substantially true is that I was involved in the cheating upon the direction of and with the blessings of the First Gentleman Mike Arroyo and GMA (Arroyo’s initials) through my handler, Alfonso G. Cusi (then general manager of the Philippine Ports Authority).”
After the poll fraud operation, Moner said he received P3 million “for me and my associates so they will not be restive and so they will not expose their participation or involvement in the cheating.”
Upon Cusi’s supposed instruction, he said he met with then President Arroyo at the Pryce Hotel in Cagayan de Oro City on June 16, 2005.
“I was immediately instructed by Cusi to meet and tell GMA that she has no problem with me as far as the election was concerned,” he recalled.
“I met GMA inside a room at the Pryce Hotel in Cagayan de Oro City with (Norberto) Gonzales (former National Security Adviser) and I told her she has no problem with me, and to which she said thank you.”
Cusi declined comment on Moner’s claims. His former executive assistant, Teresa Mendoza, said by telephone that Cusi was aware of the allegations but “does not have a statement at this time.”
Accompanied by Carmelite sisters, Moner was called to testify at the hearing, which was to wrap up the committee investigation into second-hand choppers sold as brand-new to the Philippine National Police in 2009.
Senator Teofisto Guingona III said the Senate sergeant-at-arms had begun providing security for Moner a week ago. Moner said he had been receiving occasional death threats, prompting him to write the Carmelite nuns last Aug. 16 to seek sanctuary.
Moner apologized to Susan Roces, widow of the late Fernando Poe Jr., whose lead over Arroyo in the Mindanao areas in 2004 triggered the alleged poll fraud operation.
“Mrs. Poe, again I’m sorry it had to get to this,” he addressed the widow through reporters. “If only I was able to reveal these things before the proclamation, there would have been no proclamation. But there was no opportunity.”
Moner added in his affidavit: “To my Muslim brothers, please pray for me for Allah to forgive me. I want to say that we, Muslims, also know how to tell the truth like our Christian brothers.”
Moner first appeared in a Senate investigation in 2005. Three years later, he gave an exclusive interview to then Inquirer city editor Gerry Lirio to explain how cheating was done in parts of Mindanao.
In his testimony on Tuesday, the former judge said Cusi contacted him either in March or April for the poll operation through his brother-in-law, Efren Bollozos, who was then working under Cusi at the Philippine Ports Authority.
In all, he said his operation cost around P8 million, a million of which he had kept for himself. “I got P1 million for myself because I considered it as salary for flying over the typhoon,” he told senators.
With an initial P100,000 cash delivered to his house, he said he assembled 17 election officers in the house of one Diana Datu-Imam in Marawi City on May 12 while the canvassing was taking place. At that time, he said he had been told by Cusi that Arroyo was “losing heavily in Lanao del Sur.”
Supposedly told by the group of election officers that they could make Arroyo win, Moner replied: “In that case, let us make PGMA win overwhelmingly or at least by 90 percent.”
Moner said he soon learned that another group purportedly headed by then Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano was also “operating” in the area. Moner said he distributed P5,000 for each of the poll officers while the supposed Garcillano group handed out P15,000 each.
On May 13, he said he got another P1 million cash and an additional P3 million two days later. He said the second amount was delivered to his hotel room in Zamboanga City by a member of the Presidential Security Group, whom he knew only as “Dave.”
“After Dave left, I received a call from Cusi and he told me the combination to open the briefcase,” he recalled. “I opened the briefcase and in it I found P3 million inside.”
On June 5, 2004, Moner said he flew to Makati City to return P1.78 million to Cusi at the old Oakwood Hotel. With Cusi was his brother-in-law Efren. He said he was also told that Mike Arroyo was “in another room of the hotel.”
Moner said Cusi gave him back P280,000 cash to be used for a supposed media blitz to insist that “there was no cheating in the elections. He said the amount was to be spent on the press conference and news releases of 16 poll officers, including himself.
He identified 10 of them as Pacasirang Batidor, Farouk Lomondot, Yusoph Muhammad, Nasser Yusoph, Abdulrahim Bagundang, Maulawi Calimba, Rashde Mindalano, Nasser Abdula, Dimakuta Daranda, and Manuel Dirindigun.
The following day, he said the 16 poll officers were briefed by Agnes Devanadera, then undersecretary at the Department of Interior and Local Government, on “how to cover up the cheating before press conferences and press releases at the Lakas headquarters in Makati City.”
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