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Zaldy Ampatuan: Arroyos ordered rigging of Maguindanao votes

Zero vote ordered for 3 Senate bets, benefiting Zubiri

MANILA Philippines (July 13, 2011) - Apparently disposed to unload all that he knows, Zaldy Ampatuan now claims that the former first couple ordered the manipulation of the results of the 2007 elections in his home province of Maguindanao - and he is willing to testify.

The former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) claims that former First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo ordered his father, Andal Ampatuan, Sr. who was then Maguindanao governor to ensure zero vote for Senators Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, Alan Peter Cayetano and Benigno Aquino III, now the president.

“Ping, because he talks too much against First Gentleman and GMA; the Cayetanos, because despite the Arroyos help in electing his late father and sister Senator Pia Cayetano, the Cayetanos did not return the favor when the Arroyo sought their support; and Senator Aquino because he is strong and might become President,” Zaldy said quoting his father.

What happened in the 2007 elections in Maguindanao was glaring "dagdag bawas," Zaldy claims. “The votes of the three were given to Juan Miguel Zubiri who became topnotcher in Maguindanao,” he said. Zaldy even chuckled as he cracked a joke about how Zubiri became a senator.

Zubiri promptly denied involvement in any effort to pad his votes in 2007.

“God knows I did not talk to anyone to cheat for my camp and I never did anything like that,” he said, adding that if ever cheating in the elections took place he had no hand in it.

Zaldy said that then First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo summoned his father to a meeting in one of the Arroyo buildings in Makati back in January or February 2007. In that meeting, where former provincial engineer Norie Unas was also present, Arroyo gave his father P3 million for the initial expenses, he said.

According to Zaldy, a certain Bong Serrano, acting on orders of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, later delivered to Maguindanao the empty ballots meant to replace the originals with manipulated entries and cash amounting to 30 to 40 million pesos. He identified Serrano as the executive assistant of then presidential spokesman Gabby Claudio,

Zaldy points to former Maguindanao provincial election supervisor Lintang Bedol, who is now in hiding, as the key witness who can corraborate his claims of rigging of the senatorial results in his province.

“(I) can persuade (Bedol) to cooperate and testify on the people involved and on how the manipulations and operations were done,” Zaldy said, adding that “documentary evidence may be retrieved from Comelec (and) other documents may be with Bedol.”

Former First Gentleman Arroyo has denied Zaldy's accusations and promises to issue a formal statement.