Blue Ribbon Commitee begins probe into alleged fraud in 2004 and 2007 elections
MANILA, Philippines - The late actor Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ) would have won the 2004 elections had there been no cheating, a former judge who took part in the alleged fraud told senators on Tuesday.
Nagamura Moner, a former Shari'ah court judge, was answering a question from Sen. Jinggoy Estrada during a hearing of the Blue Ribbon and electoral reform committees on fraud in the 2004 and 2007 elections.
"Kung walang dayaan, malayong malayo ang panalo ni FPJ," Moner said.
He said Poe would have won by at least 1 million votes against his rival, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Cotabato, Maguindanao, Tawi-Tawi, and Sulu.
Moner had claimed during an earlier Senate hearing that he paid several people to cheat for Arroyo in those place on the orders of her husband, former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, coursed through former Philippine Ports Authority General Manager Alfonso Cusi.
Two of the people Moner mentioned in his testimony confirmed, while another one denied, their alleged roles in the massive cheating operation in the 2004 elections to ensure Arroyo's victory.
P5 for every lead vote
"I affirm the statement of Judge Moner," Casan Ali-Limbona, also a former Shari'ah court judge, said during the hearing.
Moner had said he asked Limbona for contacts in Sultan Kudarat, where Arroyo was losing to Poe.
Limbona said he received P50,000 from Moner to reimburse his expenses for contacting his friend, then Maguindanao election supervisor Lintang Bedol.
A day after "accidentally" meeting Moner in Cotabato, Limbona said he went to Koronadal City to talk to Bedol about Moner's offer: P5 for every lead vote for Arroyo.
"He agreed in principle," Limbona said of Bedol.
The deal did not push through because election results in Sultan Kudarat had been announced, but Limbona believes Bedol complied with his request.
Arroyo won by at least 80,000 votes in Sultan Kudarat, Limbona said.
'Instant Santa Claus'
Another alleged character in the 2004 cheating, Maulawi Calimba, confirmed that he and Moner distributed money to election officers who were ordered to cheat.
According to Moner, he sent Calimba, his former student, to Marawi City on May 12 to find election officers he can talk to after getting reports that Arroyo was losing in Lanao del Sur.
That afternoon, they met at the house of a certain Diana Datu Imam with 17 election officers from various towns. Moner had with him P100,000 at that time.
Calimba said he was surprised to see Moner distributing money, and later found out it was for the cheating operation.
He admitted he helped distribute the money.
"Did you not feel guilty?" asked Senate electoral reforms committee chair Aquilino Pimentel III.
Calimba explained that it was part of his study on Philippine elections.
"Taking this opportunity, I said I have to do it as a participant observation process in order to know why this election process cannot produce good leaders in our country," he said.
"My objective was to see the process, to feel what was the feeling of being an instant Santa Claus."
Alfonso Cusi, who Moner said was his handler in the cheating operations, categorically denied the former judge's allegations.
Moner had earlier testified that Cusi gave him the money and orders to get in touch with, and pay off election operators.
"I take offense against the unfounded allegations contained in the affidavit of Mr. Moner," Cusi said. "It is very clear that Mr. Moner's statements are baseless, unfounded, and are purely hearsay."
Moner, however, insisted on his claim, and even said it was an "unwilling decision" on his part.
After the cheating operations, Moner said he got P3 million from the Arroyo camp for him and his companions to shut up.