Monday, November 28, 2005

Statement of ex-COMELEC Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano

Full text of statement read by former Commission on Elections Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano in interview by ABS-CBN's Henry Omaga Diaz, November 27, 2005.

I have to make myself rare for a while for fear of my life and that of my wife. I had been followed everywhere since the controversial alleged tapped conversation came out.

In fact, some were saying I could already be dead. I received calls over the phone. There were also intimidating text messages. There also insinuations by politicians that I might be liquidated by either side of the political isle.

I was not also sure of military's plan. There [were] also leaders who'd like me to talk, but my statement must be favorable to them; if not, my life is surely in danger.

I was also surprised by the committees investigating the alleged tapped conversation are half-bent on compelling me to testify, when they cannot present to me the original or genuine tape, if there is any.

In the first place, I should be protected because hypothetically, even if it is true, I was the victim of the alleged wiretapping. Until now, author or authors of the alleged wiretapping had not been found.

Why will I be force to testify on the conversation that were allegedly tapped which since no original to exist, was most likely spliced, edited and/or tailored to fit the sinister purpose.

Any right-minded person similarly situated as myself, will understand why I feared for my life and that of my wife then. And it's only now that I came out to speak the truth on the controversial alleged conversation at the risk of exposing myself and my wife to danger, but with faired chance for the public to listen to my side with an open mind.

After the lapse of time, when I was convicted before the bar of public opinion, by slanted and one-sided media propaganda, I feel tat the public is now ready to give chance for truth and reason to be heard.

Courtesy of the media, I had been made bad jokes. For example, if Mr. De Quiros of the PDI is to be believed, the [distinguished] Sen. Lacson has equated by person to the most-hardened criminal, so he raised P1 million for my head.

Our most respected Sen. Pimentel has announced my transfer of residence to the lowest regions of hell. This "vis" for my departure from the world is shared by not a few people and clearly proves that there are those who want me eliminated.

I assure the good senators Lacson and Pimentel that I did not came out to claim their one million pesos and the story of my forced transfer of residence from the world is extremely exaggerated.

I have [come] out despite the risk of my life and that of my family by one reason and one reason alone -- to once and for all establish the truth on the matter. I hope senators Pimentel and Lacson are ready on it.

Your honors, since this is done in aid of legislation as what they are saying, I recommend that the wiretapping law be given more teeth so that those who are using the same to assassinate the honor of people should be the one meted out the most severe penalty.

The rumors on my demise had been greatly exaggerated. The issue on these tapes should end here and now. The only thing that prevented me from coming out was fear for my own personal safety and that of my family much as I wanted to come out immediately to defend myself, I realized my life was then in danger because there was a possibility that personalities from either side of the political isle or fence might want to have me eliminated or assassinated and put the blame on either of them.

As a result, my wife and I suffered sleepless nights, severe anxiety and grave misery, not to mention our fear of our lives.

At one point, both senators Lacson and Pimentel announced that my life is in danger because the administration will not allow me to speak out.

During all this time that I was fearing for my safety, I was provided safe haven in Mindanao by loyal and trusted friends. Not long after there tapes were released, I received a phone call from Governor Ayong Malicsi of Cavite who informed me that Lacson's people were looking for me.

Knowing the reputation and capability of Lacson, I thought it was best for me to withdraw from the public eye.

During my forced isolation in the south, I learned that I became the butt of jokes and became infamous.

I was also being hunted by media and I felt that I was not anymore entitled to privacy.

So much had been said about the tapes which made me famous or infamous depending on one's political inclination. My constitutional rights had been violated when so many accusations were hurled against me. Everybody knows that unauthorized tapping is not admissible in my judicial, legislative or executive investigations.

The honorable member of [Congress], who wanted to crucify me before the bar of public opinion under the guise of ferreting out the truth through a legislative investigation in aid of legislation had violated the constitution and laws of congress itself enacted as well as my constitutional and legal rights. I understand that there are different versions of their tapes.

The tapes are illegal. I do not want to make any further comment on the truth and veracity of the alleged recorded conversations.

Any reference to these tapes must therefore be stricken off. If anyone should be held criminally liable, it is those people who took advantage thereof.

During my stint in the COMELEC for more than 35 years, it was normal and certainly not illegal or improper for candidates from all parties, their supporters, lawyers and others involved in the election to get in tough with the COMELEC officials to ask legitimate questions or procedural matters about the general conduct of the electoral process. This is particularly true in the 2004 elections.

If my phone was really bugged, I bind it strange that there were no references to conversations with candidates from the opposition.

Let it be made clear that I never had any chance, any discussion or phone conversation with any candidate, much less with the president, for the purpose of manipulating or influencing the result of the 2004 elections with various safeguards provided by law, specifically the presence of NAMFREL, volunteers, the representatives of all political parties in the national and local levels, it is impossible to manipulate the results without the connivance of those involved in the electoral process.

All the allegations of Michael Angelo [Zuce] regarding election fraud supposedly committed by me are false, malicious and scurrilous. He's a known fixer and wheel-dealer who owes large sums of money to a lot of people including my wife. He is not my nephew, but he used to call me uncle in front of people to make it appear that he is closely related to me and this is what he exploited for monetary considerations.

I did not organize or fund the so-called meetings at the Grand Boulevard Hotel with election officials. I was not even a public official anymore at that time. I retired from the commission July 2002. The meetings were prior to my appointment as Comelec Commissioner in February of 2004.

I deny having distributed any money during those meetings. As a retired Comelec officer, I was merely invited to those meetings to give inspirational messages to former subordinates who were organizing their associations.

I also deny having been at the La Vista residence of the President at any time whatsoever, much less in the company of former Governor Dy. [Zuce]'s statement that I allegedly showed him bundles of money amounting to P12 million is a lie.

I'm not stupid and it could not have done me any good, showing bundles of money to him. During the elections, I never asked Zuce to monitor election officers in Mindanao. He's not a Comelec employee and he was not authorized to do so. I would not have trusted any confidential information of tasked him to perform such duty being an outsider.

The statements also of Captain Marlon Mendoza are totally concocted and dubious. He was personally assigned to me as personal security. Why would he secure Zuce who is not even a Comelec official. He was a low-ranking office staff in "DIPLOPA" and was not entitled to any security detail.

The more I think about it, Mendoza and Zuce may have been partners in crime in conducting their own special operation in Mindanao to manipulate the results of the elections in favor of their own clients. I did not even know Mendoza went to Mindanao at a time he was my security.

He left for Mindanao after the election without my permission. He went to Mindanao for personal reason, more specifically for his clients. I reiterate that I did not engage in any illegal activity during the 2004 elections. I believe in the sanctity of the ballot and in my sacred duty to preserve it. I would never do anything to compromise myself and to the Filipino people, I swear to serve.

You can look at my record with the Comelec for more than 30 years and the same will speak for itself.

I finally decided to come out to air my side because the mass hysteria of the wiretapping scandal appears to have subsided somehow and the people are more than willing to listen now.

If they are willing to listen, it will be easier for them to comprehend my reasons for keeping silent. If they are willing to listen, it would be easier for them to understand my side of the story.

If they are willing to listen, it would be easier form them to know the truth. I had not [elaborated] on the sufferings that me and my family put through by those who want to destroy us.

Our peaceful lives and the privacy we value so much had been destroyed. Certain people have shown on TV big houses in CDO [Cagayan de Oro City], which [are] not mine.

It was even made to appear that I won a farm consisting of thousands of hectares. Through all this time, I have been vilified and made a laughing stock in the media without regard [to] my rights and privacy.

All I ask is to [be] entitled to my own rights under the law and for the Filipino people to respect the duly constituted government and the electoral processes which I have long struggled to uphold. Thank you!