Press Release
January 4, 2010


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. today urged government authorities to respond to allegations that a huge amount of money was found and confiscated in the mansion of former Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. in Sharif Aguak, Maguindanao when it was raided by government troops following the massacre of 57 innocent civilians in the province on Nov. 23.

Pimentel cited a newspaper item that from P400 million to P600 million in cash was allegedly found when government troops opened the vault inside the Ampatuan residence but where they brought the money is not known.

This was first reported in the column of Ramon Tulfo in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The same item later appeared in the column of former Sen. Ernesto Maceda in the Philippine Daily Tribune. An unidentified woman in the Ampatuan family was mentioned by Maceda as a source of this story.

Urging the government to solve this "mystery," Pimentel said the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines should shed light on the alleged looting of Ampatuan money.

"The public deserves to know whether money was allegedly confiscated during the raid on the Ampatuan residence. If this is true, where is the money?" he said.

"If there is no truth to this story, then the police or military authorities should issue an official statement denying the alleged looting. But if this incident really took place, then they should conduct an immediate investigation, find out where the money was taken and identify the officer and men who had a hand in it," he said.

The senator from Mindanao said the story could not be easily dismissed in view of information that former Governor Ampatuan supposedly preferred to keep his money in his family vaults instead of depositing it with the banks.

"Unless this matter is fully clarified by the authorities, this will serve as a blot to the reputation and credibility of our police and military organizations," the opposition senator said.

After Datu Junsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan, Jr. was taken under custody by the National Bureau of Investigation as a prime suspected behind the massacre, the elder Ampatuan's mansion in Sharif Aguak was cordoned off by government troops to prevent family members and their aides from destroying and bringing out any evidence that may help solve the crime.

However, Pimentel said that when government troops entered and raided the mansion, it was reported that the big, steel vault had already been emptied of its contents.

The minority leader said if it is true that the government raiding team was able to confiscate fantastic sums of money from the Ampatuan mansion and if the amount can be presented in court, this could be used as evidence to prove the allegations that the Ampatuans were involved in misappropriating and stealing funds from the government treasury.

Pimentel said during the raid on one of the mansions or houses of the Ampatuans, a news team from the ABS-CBN reported that ballot boxes were found.

He said the ballot boxes, supposedly containing election documents, could be used in the investigation of the Ampatuans' alleged involvement in the rigging of the past national elections in Maguindanao.

"But now, nothing more is being mentioned about the ballot boxes," Pimentel said.

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