MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - A judge, professor and student have backed claims that money was distributed during the 2004 elections to provide President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo a win, with one describing himself an “instant Santa Clause.”
During a hearing at the Senate, former judge Casan-Ali Limbona, professor Maulawi Calimba and Amer Hassan Doro admitted they were contacted by former Shari’a Court Judge Nagamura Moner to help the Arroyos supposedly rig the elections by distributing money to election operators.
Limbona said he got P50,000 from Moner for expenses to contact Lintang Bedol, then the election supervisor of Sultan Kudarat. Bedol earlier claimed Arroyo won by a huge margin over the late Fernando Poe Jr. due to cheating.
Limbona believes Bedol is a “good and principled man, but because of circumstances, he’s become controversial.”
He supposedly told Bedol he would be receiving P5 for every lead that Arroyo will get from the elections in the Muslim provinces.
'Give the lead for GMA'
Calimba, for his part, said he was also contacted by Moner to distribute money to at least 17 election officers and 2 others before the elections.
“I did not know [Moner’s intentions] then…but I was surprised he came and distributed money. He said the incident happened in his brother-in-law’s house.
“It was something spontaneous…[but I knew] that his intention was to give the lead for GMA,” he said.
He claimed not getting anything in return. “I was only interested in the election process, and why it could not produce good leaders.”
He said he even came out with a research paper on the matter. There, he stated that electoral sabotage should be strongly dealt with by law.
Doro, on the other hand, said he was a former student of Moner when he was still studying law.
He claimed he accompanied Moner in different provinces aboard the controversial chopper, supposedly owned by former First Gentleman Juan Miguel Arroyo.
In Tawi-Tawi, he was asked to hand money to a police. “I thought to myself, I couldn’t be involved in a crime….but in my mind, out of delicadeza, I could not refuse [Moner].”
Moner admits pocketing money
Moner reiterated the operation was backed by the Arroyos, as promised by former Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines chairman Alfonso Cusi.
“I would not be doing it if it only came from him,” he said. Cusi supposedly mentioned it was the former First Gentleman who was at the forefront of the operations, he alleged.
Cusi denied Moner’s testimony. “He first testified there was no fraud, but now he’s telling a fantastic and incredible story.”
Moner was first invited by the Senate during the “Hello, Garci” investigations.
The former judge said he wanted to come out as early as 2005, but was told “that it will be dangerous to come out.”
Several election officials were also then preparing for a press conference and reveal their knowledge of the alleged cheating in the presidential elections.
P3M to shut up
Moner said, however, that a Presidential Security Group member named only “Dave” came bearing P3 million to shut them up.
“It wasn’t for me, it was for my companions who wanted to expose the anomalies,” he said.
He later admitted pocketing himself some P1 million.
He said he gave a false testimony then to protect himself and his family. He said he is speaking the truth this time, even swearing before the holy book of Koran.
But it was Commission on Elections (Comelec) regional director for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Rey Sumalipao who took the Koran himself and swore he was telling the truth.
Sumalipao was denying allegations by former Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process consultant Ansari Alonto, who claimed the positions for national offices were never canvassed in Lanao del Sur.