(update) Flash: Ong charged with sedition.
(update No. 2): Bro. Mike Velarde says “don’t rush to judgement”; the President addressed members of El Shaddai today in Cavite.
It’s frustrating that Businessworld doesn’t have its columnists on line. In his column for today, Argee Guevarra presents his own chronology of recent events. I’ll just summarize them -if anyone finds a link to the actual column, please let me know.
Argee is affiliated with Sanlakas and gained fame as a writer in the Philippine Collegian with a gift for the witty turn of phrase, for exampling referring to the supporters of exiled Communist leader Jose Ma. Sison as “Joma’s Witnesses.” According to him (Argee), his chronology is based “also on published reports and information from well-placed sources from both the administration and the trapo [traditional political] opposition.”
He begins, [s]ometime between May 30 and June 1, during the heat of the Senate inquiry on jueteng, text messages started to circulate about the existence of audio recordings which claim to be damaging to the GMA presidency. Palace operatives were immediately ordered to verify the rumors by checking their veracity with the intelligence community. Before the order filtered to the proper channels, a CD copy of the recordings was leaked…on June 2 by members of the anti-GMA group led by retired Gen. Fortunato Abat.
He continues, The Palace prematurely presumed the recordings… represented the entire length and substance of GMA’s and Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcellano’s conversations.
His chronology may then be summarized as follows:
June 2, Thursday: The recordings reach media. The Cabinet’s crisis management team spends up to early in the morning of June 3 deciding on a course of action.
June 3, Friday: Media organizations who reviewed the recordings ask the Palace to react. Palace says a statement will be issued over the weekend. June 3 to 4 finds the crisis management team hurriedly drafting “its official political line on the matter: the leaked CD is a fake despite its knowing it to be real. Furthermore, it decides to produce its own version of the conversation and pass it off as the authentic copy, unaware that the original in its possession is merely an abridged and edited version.
Argee explains that the Palace version was supposed to be the recorded conversation between GMA and a political operator whose name should correspond to “Gary” or “Garci” as was the content of the original and unadulterated conversation. It featured the superimposed voice recording of Rep. Iggy Arroyo’s chief of staff, Edgar Ruado, who is better known as Bong among the congressional staff members.
Argee suggests that Gary’s selection was to obviate any accusations of inappropriate communication between a presidential candidate and a Comelec commissioner which constitutes an impeachable offense.
June 4, Saturday: Abat tells media he’s going to hold a press conference on Sunday –Gen. Abat’s group hoped that by playing the the tape before media, he would invite arrest from members of the AFP or PNP, and signal sympathetic quarters from the Philippine Marines to come to his succor and reprise… the siege of Camp Aguinaldo which triggered the 1986 People Power Revolution.
The Palace decided to preempt the Abat press conference by scheduling a last-minute… press conference of its own, making a side-by-side comparison between the original CD and the Palace-produced version. For the entire day of June 4 (Saturday) and June 5 (Sunday) the crisis-management team rehearsed its official yarn in a vain attempt to satisfactorily hurdle any inquiry and scrutiny…
June 6, Monday: Press Sec. Bunye holds a press conference, plays both recordings, says that both contain the voice of the President. The major networks broadcasts the tapes, and continues to do so until June 7. (thanks to crimson page for correcting this!)
June 8, Tuesday: suspended lawyer Allan Paguia says he was the source of the recordings.Argee says Sources indicated that… Paguia advanced the dissemination of the tape to coincide with that of Gen. Abat, although… Paguia intended his distribution to be on an installment basis to keep the Palace in the dark.
June 8-9: He writes, various anti-GMA organizations from Left to Right opened communication lines to prepare for a possible stewardship of any expression of national outrage which could convulse the streets… No basis of unity was achieved since the anti-GMA groups were ill-prepared for an abrupt regime change and bickered over post-GMA scenarios.
June 10: Samuel Ong surfaces. He seeks protection from the Church, then a fringe group from the FPJ campaign committee and the Erap camp attempted to simulate another Edsa 3 uprising, but was quickly smothered by a battalion of cops sent to the San Carlos Seminary to prevent any public assembly from reaching a critical mass. (Note: one of the lunatic fringe, confirms this.). The next day, Ong hands the tape to Bishop Bacani not merely to effect a transfer of custody thereof, but to oblige the Church to conduct a formal evaluation and inquiry.
Argee’s chronology bears comparison with that of the PCIJ here and here. What he suggests seems to be that the release of the tapes was a cunning plan by the Abat camp to panic the Palace into reacting to packaged information (that is, to panic by reacting to a tape, not knowing there was a longer tape); that the Estrada camp barged in and by so doing, bungled the whole thing; that (and this is my reading of Argee’s reading) the Abat people may have ultimately moved to derail a longer, more patient game plan by Senator Lacson.