MANILA, Philippines - Former President Joseph Estrada on Thursday said an investigation on the alleged electoral fraud in the 2004 election must not stop until the mastermind and those who supported the election cheating are prosecuted.
Estrada broke his silence on political matters and said he supports an investigation that will vindicate his best friend, the late actor and presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr.
"We have to support all efforts to prosecute those who participated in the 2004 electoral fraud. Lahat na ninakaw nila sa bayan - hindi lang kaban ng bayan, pati ni rin boto ng masang Pilipino," he said.
The former president said any investigation on poll fraud should also include so-called "Hello, Garci" police and military generals who participated in the cover-up.
He said that after Arroyo was proclaimed president, Poe approached him and said: "I can't believe the military could do this to me."
Poe ran in the 2004 presidential election but lost by a million votes to then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Estrada said Poe was cheated of victory as shown in the "Hello, Garci" wiretap tapes that detailed an alleged conspiracy to rig the 2004 election.
Estrada said the latest revelations of suspended Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan and Maguindanao election supervisor Lintang Bedol confirms the existence of a grand conspiracy by the Commission on Elections, the military and police to rig the 2004 polls.
The former president said Congress should pass a law making electoral fraud, especially those on the scale of the "Hello, Garci scandal," a heinous crime.
“Electoral fraud is worse than any crime because these people did not only steal money but they stole the right to suffrage of the people. They suppressed the will of the millions of Filipinos who voted in 2004," he said.
“We must not stop until we prosecute the last of the participants in the 2004 Hello Garci scandal,” he added.