, JULY 22, 2011 (TRIBUNE) By Charlie V. Manalo and Virgilio Bugaoisan - It took millions of pesos to get the Ampatuans and election officer Lintang Bedol to rig the vote for paying candidates to win.

It also apparently takes millions of pesos from a businessman-crony of President Aquino to pay former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan and Lintang Bedol for them to spill the poll fraud beans.

A highly reliable source yesterday disclosed to the Tribune that a big businessman who is said to have contributed a large amount of money — close to half a billion pesos — to the campaign of Aquino and his then running mate, Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) Secretary Mar Roxas, is allegedly funding former Maguindanao election supervisor Bedol to pin down former President, now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo in the alleged fraud during the 2004 and 2007 elections.

The source said the businessman, whom he identified as Buddy Zamora, provided the private plane used in the interview conducted by a television anchor with Bedol early this month and in ferrying the former Commission on Election (Comelec) official to Manila the other day.

The source added Zamora paid Bedol P30 million to corroborate Zaldy Ampatuan’s statement to the effect that Arroyo had instructed them to rig the election results in Maguindanao to favor administration candidates in both elections.

The businessman-supporter of Aquino was pointed to as the financier of the operation of the administration’s political operators who have been dangling financial rewards to former officials and allies of Arroyo for them to turn state witness in various anomalies allegedly committed by the previous administration.

But Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda quickly denied the information that Buddy Zamora, former mining executive who is now into property development, has been financing efforts to recruit people to turn into whistle-blowers but admitted that he knows him personally.

Zamora has been listed as President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Universal LRT Corporation (BVI) Limited; Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Montreal Entertainment (Phil’s.) Inc.. He also founded Nickel Asia Corporation and served as its President and Chief Executive Officer and served as President of Cagdianao Mining Corporation since 1997, President of Hinatuan Mining Corporation since 1987 and President of Taganito Mining Corp. since 1980.

Zamora is also a property developer, resort and hotel operator and serves as the Chairman of Oriental Vision Mining Philippines Corp. He serves as a Director of Baguio Leisure Corp. He was listed as one of the campaign donors in Aquino’s presidential bid with a mere P5 million donation although sources say he donated over P300 million for the Liberal’s Party’s campaign kitty in the 2010 national elections.

Lacierda also denied reports that former Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano is now in physical contact with Malacanang’s political operators, something that sources said is completely false.

Using Zamora’s money, Garcillano was reportedly offered P50 million in exchange for his cooperation to pin down the Arroyos in relation to alleged election cheating in the presidential elections, particularly in Mindanao, but the former Comelec commissioner of the “Hello Garci” fame is not coming out of the open as yet because he is reportedly asking for more.

It’s the same Zamora money that was allegedly used to lure Bedol into coming out in the open and eventually surrender to the Comelec. In fact, it was Zamora’s aircraft that was used to transport Bedol from Mindanao to Manila.

This was denied by Lacierda who insisted that the only contact the government has with Garcillano are through feelers sent by emissaries to Aquino’s chief politcal operator Ronald Llamas. He said that Bedol also voluntarily surrendered himself without any prodding from the government.

“I really don’t know why there is a sudden upsurge of all these whistle-blowers. The only thing that I can tell is that there is change in the attitude. There is confidence I suppose on the part of his people that this administration will likely hear the truth,” Lacierda said in explaining the phenomenal rise on the number of people coming out purportedly to tell-all on the alleged election anomalies perpetrated by the Arroyo administration.

Earlier, Llamas told the media that the Aquino administration is now active in convincing whistle-blowers to turn themselves in and help the government in getting into the truth behind the alleged wrongdoing committed by the past administration.

“He is encouraging all the whistle-blowers to come out. There’s no conspiracy for all of them, that we’re stage-managing all these things. In fact until now, we don’t have (Garcillano). All we have are feelers from Mr. Garcillano,” Lacierda said.

Arroyo ran and won in the 2004 elections but her victory was marred by controversy.

In the 2007 elections, both Ampatuan and Bedol alleged that Arroyo gave them instructions to rig the results to favor Team Unity (TU) candidate Juan Miguel Zubiri and render zero votes for Arroyo’s critics, Aquino and Senators Panfilo Lacson and Alan Peter Cayetano.

“Zamora is spending his own money to pin down GMA on this alleged election fraud,” said the Tribune source. “So, it’s no wonder why even if Zaldy and Bedol are a thousand miles apart and haven’t seen each other in years, they came up with synoptic testimonies as if they have been fed the same statement.”

The source added that Zamora, whom he described as an avid supporter of Aquino and Roxas, donated over P300 million to the campaign chest of the Aquino-Roxas tandem in the 2010 elections. He was asked by the Roxas’ Balay Group to fund the Bedol-Ampatuan operations, which the source said was not really aimed at pinning down Arroyo, but to convince Aquino to make Zaldy a state witness in the gruesome Maguindano Massacre, eventually clearing his name.

“This is all for election purposes,” said the source. “While they have been using Bedol and Zaldy to expose alleged anomalies in the 2004 and 2007 elections, their ultimate goal is also to use one of them, Zaldy, for that matter, for the elections.”

But Bedol also has now to face the music.

Even before he would be grilled by other investigative body following his surrender after more than four years in hiding, Bedol is now being charged on orders from the Office of the Ombudsman.

Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao Humphrey Monteroso said the filing of the graft case against the embattled Bedol stemmed from irregularities he allegedly committed when he was the provincial election supervisor during the May 2007 elections.

According to lawyer Mary Rawnsle Lopez, of the Office of the Acting Ombudsman, the graft case against Bedol was in violation of the provisions of Republic Act 3019 otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

She said it was lawyer Ferdinand Rafanan, the current chief of the law department of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), who filed the complaint against Bedol.

Bedol was accused of unlawfully and illegally directing the submission to him (Rafanan) of all copies of the Municipal Certificate of Canvass (MCOC), Election Returns (ERs), Statement of Votes (SOV) and Summary Statement of Votes (SSOVs) generated by all precincts in the province of Maguindanao.

The documents contained the results for the local and national positions during the May 14, 2007 polls, Rafanan said in his complaint he filed before the anti-graft office.

However, the documents in questions could no longer be located by the poll officials despite stringent measures adopted for its safekeeping, it was learned. But there were no further details as to how the documents disappeared.

As a result, the votes for the province of Maguindanao were not transmitted to the Comelec, “thereby causing undue injury to the government as the canvassing of votes for senatorial and party-list were unnecessarily delayed and the loss of these documents tainted the image and credibility of the Comelec as a constitutional and independent body.”

Since Bedol was a low-ranking government official, the charges against him will be filed before the Regional Trial Court of Cotobato City. Bail recommended is P30, 000, Lopez said.

Bedol is currently detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame. With Arlie O. Calalo


Palace says noose tightening around Arroyo

THE Palace on Wednesday said the noose was tightening around former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo and denied her camp’s claims that it orchestrated the surfacing of witnesses willing to pin her to election fraud.

Earlier, Arroyo’s lawyer, Raul Lambino, accused the administration of striking a deal with Maguindanao massacre suspect and former governor Zaldy Ampatuan that would enable him to turn state witness in the mass murder trial in exchange for testifying on Mrs. Arroyo’s supposed role in the election cheating in 2004 and 2007.

Lambino said the Palace was also behind the sudden appearance of wanted election supervisor Lintang Bedol and his statements linking Arroyo to poll cheating.

“Raul Lambino is speaking without basis [and] surfaced because he knows his principal is now in a tight spot,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Wednesday.

“He should prove that there was such a deal. He has been saying a lot, but what we know is that the noose is tightening. That is why he is speaking up and trying to misdirect the while situation and trying to taint whatever revelations that Lintang Bedol could come out with.”

Lacierda said Lambino should prove his conspiracy theory or shut up.

On Wednesday, Ampatuan’s transfer from his detention cell to the Philippine Heart Center for a checkup fueled further talk of special treatment and a deal with the administration.

Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo denied coddling Bedol, who was in his department’s custody since Friday but turned over to the Commission on Elections only on Tuesday.

He said Bedol had sought the department’s help, and that they facilitated his surrender.

Robredo said three witnesses—two municipal elections officers and a computer technician—had surfaced to corroborate Bedol’s testimony on the supposed election cheating.

He said the witnesses strengthened Bedol’s statement that Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri had cheated in the 2007 senatorial elections, and dismissed talk that the former poll official received P30 million in exchange for coming forward to testify against Zubiri.

Former elections chief Benjamin Abalos Sr. cautioned the Justice Department against giving too much credence to Bedol’s statements.

“The Justice Department should look into his unknown motives after suddenly appearing after four years in hiding,” Abalos said.

“How can he possibly say that we had a hand in the alleged anomalous canvassing of votes when in fact he was the one in charge of the area?”

Commission on Elections Chairman Sixto Brillantes appealed to former commissioner Virgilio Garcillano to shed light on the allegaions of massive fraud in the 2004 and 2007 elections.

Garcillano was allegedly responsible for delivering Arroyo’s one-million-vote victory in the 2004 national elections over Fernando Poe Jr.

He was not mentioned, however, in the statements submitted by Bedol or the three new witnesses that surfaced. Joyce Pangco Pañares, Joel Zurbano, Vito Barcelo, Rio N. Araja, Gigi Muñoz-David

Erap: Vindicate FPJ, masses, unmask ’04 poll fraud brains 07/22/2011

TRIBUNE - Breaking his silence on political matters, former President Joseph Estrada yesterday expressed support to an investigation into the alleged massive cheating during the 2004 presidential elections that reportedly benefitted Gloria Arroyo.

“We have to support all efforts to prosecute those who participated in the 2004 electoral fraud,” Estrada stressed. “They stole everything from the country — not only money from the government coffers but even the votes of the Filipino masses.”

According to the former leader, the investigation should also include those in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), especially the so-called “Garci” generals who were engaged in fraud and cover-up of the 2004 scandal at different levels.

“Pinpoint the mastermind behind the Hello Garci scandal and prosecute all those who participated in this shameless act,” he stressed.

Estrada revealed that after Arroyo was proclaimed president, the late actor Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ), then the opposition standard-bearer, told him that “I can’t believe the military could do this to me.”

With the admission of suspended Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan and Maguindanao election supervisor Lintang Bedol of irregularities in the 2004 and 2007 elections, Estrada observed, “Now it is slowly being confirmed that what happened in 2004 was a grand conspiracy, involving not only the mastermind but the Commission on Elections (Comelec) as well as the military and police.”

He added Congress should pass a law making electoral fraud, especially those on the scale of the “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.”

“We must not stop until we prosecute the last of the participants of the 2004 Hello Garci scandal, Estrada stressed.

Meanwhile, Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero also yesterday presented to the Senate media and staff a video documentary showing how the 2004 presidential election was rigged to favor Arroyo.

The 50-minute presentation contains documentary evidence such as the election returns from Mindanao, a thorough revisit of the “Hello Garci” conversations which directly affected the poll results, and antecedents to cheat FPJ.

Escudero, who stood as Poe’s official spokesmanthen, said the video was produced by fellow supporter, Marichu Maceda, along with other friends some four years ago in their bid to prove there was massive election cheating as well as gather support for the actor, the rightful winner in the 2004 presidential race.

He explained that with key personalities coming forward like Ampatuan and Bedol claiming knowledge of poll rigging in 2004 to favor Arroyo, the showing of the video is a most opportune time.

“We tried to go around after 2004 to show the documentary, but reception was unwelcoming. Since it was under the Arroyo administration, windows and doors we tried to knock on in search for truth were closing on us. Nobody wanted to listen,” the senator noted.

Escudero has filed a joint resolution asking both chambers of Congress to create a fact-finding commission to determine the real winner in 2004 presidential elections.

Escudero said once Congress convenes and a fact-finding body is established, he will push for the presentation of the documentary to the commission if only to give a perspective and overview of the whole incident in 2004.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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