Dureza got no money from Ampatuan

Subscribe Now September 19, 2010 at 01:13am

A former official of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao claimed Friday to have been sent by Andal Ampatuan Sr. to then presidential adviser on Mindanao affairs Jesus Dureza for unspecified "help" with murder charges he and his sons faced in the Maguindanao massacre but insisted that the former Arroyo press secretary did not receive any money. “Ikaw lang ang puwede kong papuntahin kay Secretary Dureza kasi magkaibigan kayo (You are the only one I can send to Secretary Dureza because you are friends),” Mastur Salendab, former ARMM regional agrarian reform undersecretary, quoted the patriarch of the influential Ampatuan clan as telling him.

Speaking to reporters here Friday afternoon, Salendab said Ampatuan wanted to know if Dureza could help in the murder charges filed against him, his sons and other relatives. He said Ampatuan did not specify what kind of help he wanted.

Salendab said he went to see Dureza several times at his home here in Davao on orders of the Ampatuan patriarch.

He said in all the meetings, Dureza told him that he could do nothing about the charges.

“He said he could not help the Ampatuans in the pending cases. He said these fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice,” Salendab said.

The only promise that Dureza made, Salendab said, was to “give assistance if there were other incidents of ransacking of the Ampatuan properties by unknown persons.”

Shortly after Andal Sr. and his sons were arrested, robbers targeted their properties in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao.

Asked to explain how he became associated with Dureza, Salendab said they were close friends long before the Maguindanao massacre took place.

He said even then Moro Islamic Liberation Front chair Salamat Hashim recognized his friendship with Dureza when the former asked him to arrange—through the former Arroyo official—the hospitalization of his brother Hadji Samir.

Salendab said it was also the same close friendship that Andal Sr. banked on for the murder charges against the Ampatuan clan.

He said in all the meetings, no money changed hands and that Dureza never got a centavo from the Ampatuan patriarch.

State witness Lakmudin Saliao testified in court that Dureza received P10 million from Andal Sr.

“I pity Secretary Dureza because I personally know that he never received any money from the Ampatuans. I should know because I was the one tasked by Datu Andal to meet Dureza several times; Dureza even immediately declined to help,” Salendab said.

When Saliao’s testimony was made public, Salendab said Dureza immediately called him up.

“He seriously asked me that maybe I had received something intended for him but kept it for myself,” he said.

Salendab said he could not have received money from Andal Sr. in behalf of Dureza and not given it to him.

“I told Secretary Dureza that something serious would have already happened to me if this was what actually happened,” he said.

Dureza, in a separate statement, also maintained he did not receive money from the Ampatuan patriarch.

“(This is) another malicious and false accusation,” he said.

Dureza admitted that he visited the Ampatuan patriarch at Camp Panacan here but it was only after “media friends” asked him to verify reports the former was being given special treatment.

“Media friends in Davao and some families of media victims started complaining about the supposed VIP treatment and VIP accommodation for Andal Sr. They asked me to personally check on the reports,” he said.

Dureza said he found out that Andal Sr. was not getting special treatment and that his confinement room was small.

“To now claim that my visit was about bribe money is no longer amusing. It’s showing a pattern of a clear attempt to destroy me in the public eye,” he said in a text message Saturday.

Salendab, who ran but lost to a member of the Mangudadatu family in the race for mayor of the town of Buluan in Maguindanao, said the efforts to link him and Dureza could be due to his refusal to testify against the Ampatuans.

He did not identify the persons who asked him to turn witness but said he was willing to name them in court.

Source: inquirer.net

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