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Zaldy: Arroyo got P200M in kickbacks from govt projects

Suspended Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Zaldy Ampatuan, detained for his alleged involvement in the November 2009 Maguindanao massacre, has accused former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of receiving around P200 million in kickbacks from farm-to-market road projects in 2008 and 2009. In three separate affidavits, Zaldy said the kickbacks were coursed through former Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman. The affidavits have yet to be filed with any government agency, but were shown Wednesday to reporters by a reliable source from the Ampatuans' relatives. The source said Zaldy plans to use the affidavits in the P1.6-billion plunder case he is facing before the Office of the Ombudsman. GMA News Online was still trying to reach any of Arroyo's spokespersons for their comment as of this posting. The source of the document said the affidavits were signed, but the signature was "covered" when the documents were presented to the media "for security purposes." Reporters only saw parts of a signature under Zaldy's printed name. In the first affidavit, Zaldy said a memorandum of agreement was signed "between May and July 2009" between the Maguindanao provincial office and the Department of Agrarian Reform for a P500-million farm-to-market road project. Asking for 30% "In this project, I learned from my father, Andal Ampatuan Sr., that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, through DAR Secretary Nasser Pangandaman, demanded 30% or P150 million," said Zaldy, the ARMM governor at the time. In the second affidavit, Zaldy said Pangandaman on a separate occasion "sometime between March and August 2009" asked for 20 percent or P30 million from a P150-million project by the Department of Public Works and Highways and the ARMM government. "I could not refuse the demand because the order came from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo," Zaldy said in his second affidavit. In his third affidavit, Zaldy said Arroyo got P20 million or 20 percent of another DPWH-ARMM farm-to-market road project worth P100 million in 2008. "Before the project was awarded, Nasser reminded me of the 20% percent share they would get. Nasser assured me that the P20 million will be delivered to PGMA," he said. In all the affidavits, Zaldy accused Arroyo of violation of the Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code or Malversation; and Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. No impact on the case Malacañang, meanwhile, said Zaldy's offer of information will not affect his status as one of the key suspects in the massacre that left 57 people, including 32 journalists, dead on Nov. 23, 2009. Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said President Benigno Aquino III will be meeting with relatives of the massacre victims this Thursday afternoon . For her part, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said President Aquino has formed a team to evaluate the information given by Zaldy's camp through various feelers. She hinted that the information refers to "other probable cases" implicating Arroyo, including her alleged involvement in election fraud in the 2007 elections. "The President has assigned individuals already, and I'm part of that. We are evaluating, assessing the value, quality, plausibility, verifiability, and if this information can be corroborated. And these are several matters and since this is under assessment, we cannot yet disclose the specifics," De Lima said. "[The information] has nothing to do with the massacre case. This is for different cases, probable cases in other areas," she added. She said she has also received feelers and unofficial, unsigned documents from Zaldy's camp. — with Amita O. Legaspi and Sophia Dedace/KBK/VS, GMA News