Press Release
April 21, 2010


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. today dared Malacañang and acting Justice Secretary Alberto Agra to answer the allegation that the massive electoral fraud in Maguindanao in 2004 and 2007 had something to do with his arbitrary decision to drop multiple murder charges against suspended Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Zaldy Ampatuan and Mayor Akmad Ampatuan in connection with the massacre of 57 innocent civilians in the province.

Pimentel said it appears that the decision to exclude Zaldy and Akmad was intended to appease the Ampatuans to dissuade them from their purported plan to divulge their role in the "dagdag-bawas" (vote padding and shaving) operations to inflate the votes of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at the expense of her closest opponent Fernando Poe, Jr. in the 2004 election and to enable administration candidates to sweep the 2007 senatorial polls in Maguindanao.

He was reacting to the revelation of Atty. Harry Roque, one of the lawyers for the victims of the Maguindanao carnage, that a representative of the Ampatuans attempted see him to discuss their supposed plan to spill the beans on their participation in the clandestine operations to fabricate election results in cahoots with corrupt officials of the Commission on Elections that benefitted President Arroyo and her senatorial candidates.

"With Atty. Roque's revelation, who would believe Secretary Agra's assertion that Mrs. Arroyo did not interfere in the case? It has reinforced the suspicion that the justice secretary was dictated upon by the President to exonerate Zaldy and Akmad Ampatuan," Pimentel said.

Pimentel said that it is an open secret that the Ampatuans were responsible for the electoral fraud in Maguindanao that helped Mrs. Arroyo perpetuate herself in power.

He said it is also a known fact that the Ampatuans were handsomely rewarded for their dubious role in her electoral victory.

"With the blessing of Malacañang, the Ampatuans were able to maintain and expand a huge private army and to acquire and awesome arsenal of firearms under the guise of having a civilian force fighting against Muslim rebels. They built mansions and palatial homes that towered over dilapidated houses and squatter shanties where their impoverished constituents live," the senator from Mindanao said.

Pimentel said Mrs. Arroyo would do everything within her power to keep the secrets of the Maguindanao electoral fraud under wraps. She said the President knows that the public disclosure of such explosive evidence would further confirm that she was not the rightful winner of the 2004 presidential election and that she has been occupying her office illegally.

Interviewed over radio station DZMM Monday, Atty. Roque said a nephew of dismissed Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan, Sr. (Zaldy's father) had sent word to him about the family's plan to confess their role in the 2004 and 2007 electoral fraud.

"Ang lumapit sa akin ay nakikipag-schedule ng appointment para sa isang member ng Ampatuan family. But I did not entertain it. Sinabi ko na kung gusto mong isiwalat ang katotohanan, magsalita ka. Kumanta ka. Hindi mo naman kailangang makipag-usap kahit kanino. At hindi tama na ako (as lawyer of the victims) ay makipag-usap sa Ampatuan family," Roque told the radio interview.

Pimentel said it is not difficult to understand why Secretary Agra acted in the most atrocious and reprehensible manner because he served as one the lawyers of President Arroyo in the cases questioning her victory in the 2004 election.

The opposition senator joined other critics in accusing Agra of flagrantly and shamelessly disregarding rules and procedures when he decided to drop the murder charges against Zaldy and Akmad Ampatuan without the knowledge of government prosecutors who are handling the case.

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