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Bulacan governor also wants Palace to explain 'cash gifts'

Neophyte Gov. Joselito "Jonjon" Mendoza of Bulacan joined Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio in asking Malacañang on Tuesday to explain the handing out of "cash gifts" worth P500,000. Mendoza said the money has already been distributed to village chiefs in Bulacan, but said the money can be still be retrieved. The development comes on the heels of claims by Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio, who earlier said he would write Malacañang and ask for a formal explanation on where his P500,000-cash "gift" came from and where it was sourced. "Panlilio and I are on the same boat. So we'll handle this similarly," Mendoza said in Filipino on dzBB radio. "Last night I slept well because I turned over the money to the local village chiefs," he added. Mendoza said he also wants to know why the woman chose him to give the money to Panlilio instead of giving the money directly to his Pampanga counterpart. While Panlilio ran for governor as an independent, Mendoza is allied with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi). According to Mendoza, the woman handed out the bags shortly after their meeting in Malacañang on Thursday last week and asked the Bulacan governor to give one of the bags to Panlilio. Mendoza recalled the woman speaking in a casual manner: "Gov, this is for you. Please give the other to Governor Panlilio." He added that, "I don't know her. If I did, I would have named her now." Mendoza claimed that he did not look at the contents of the bag. "I asked Panlilio if he would accept the money. He said he saw nothing wrong with it, so I accepted it too," he said in a separate interview on dzRH radio. However, Mendoza refused to speculate on whether or not other governors accepted money during the meeting. "I saw nothing, I saw no other bags," he said. He admitted that he did not think twice where the money came from because there was no accompanying document. All he thought at the time, he claimed, was that the money would help finance many community projects. Mendoza said he and Panlilio were "alone" at the time in the Palace Heroes' Hall. He said he had an audience with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo that day. "We are both first-time governors, and both from Central Luzon," he said. Panlilio, however, said Monday his staff member received the money from Mendoza. "As we were walking towards the gate, Gov. Jonjon (Mendoza) handed to my chief of staff a paper bag... After we entered our vehicle, my chief of staff opened the bag and was surprised to find the money inside it," Panlilio said. Panlilio had admitted receiving the money after attending a meeting of governors in Malacañang last week. - GMANews.TV