Sen. Estrada: Moner made business out of polls; he should go to jail
WANTED: More Senate witnesses.
Senate President Pro Tempore Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada on Wednesday urged his colleagues to look for more witnesses to corroborate the revelations made by former Shariah Judge Nagamura Moner.
Estrada sought to unmask Moner after the witness told senators on Tuesday that the late Fernando Poe Jr. would have won the presidential race in 2004 had Moner’s team not cheated in Mindanao.
The senator said Moner was “ready” to spill the beans as early as 2005 but changed his mind at the last minute, allegedly after being given a hefty sum by the administration of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Moner ended up denying cheating in favor of Arroyo in parts of Mindanao when he testified under oath before the Senate committee on national defense that year. Six years later, he testified yet again, this time saying the opposite.
“He made a business out of the elections. Binaboy n’ya (He debased the elections),” Estrada told the Inquirer in a phone interview. “Now, when his benefactors are no longer in power, he’s suddenly coming out like he’s a hero. He should go to jail.”
Estrada said that back in 2005, Moner’s “handler” made contact with the political opposition so the former judge could testify on the alleged cheating that took place in the south.
“I knew his handler back then. He had no money. He just wanted to help the opposition. The other side learned about the plan and offered a big amount to Moner. That’s why when he appeared with a signed affidavit at the Senate then, he denied everything,” the senator recalled.
It takes a thief…
But Senator Francis Escudero, Poe’s former campaign spokesperson, took up the cudgels for Moner, saying the fact that the latter received money did not necessarily mean that he was lying in his latest testimony.
“There’s a saying that it takes a thief to catch a thief. It’s difficult to get an angel for a witness, who has personal knowledge of all the evils committed. He cannot expect to get a perfect witness, who would speak on wrongdoing committed in the past,” Escudero told reporters in Filipino.
Still, Estrada said Moner should be punished “even with a jail term of one to two years.”
He said prosecuting the former judge would send the message that resource persons should not give false testimonies in congressional inquiries, and that turning witness did not necessarily expunge all criminal liability.
In July, Escudero filed a resolution calling on Congress to “determine the real winner in the 2004 presidential race.”
If subsequent investigations would prove that Poe won, he said, the finding would not exactly invalidate Arroyo’s official actions. “It would just correct history,” he reiterated Wednesday.
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