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Dec 07

Garci’s worm fiesta (final update)

8:55 a.m. Rep. Teodoro Locsin, Jr. explains on ANC that after initially accomodating Mrs. Garcillano’s request, to have the hearings in a small room (to prevent her husband being jeered), the House has finally decided to move the hearings to the plenary hall. Locsin thinks it certain that Garci will invoke the sub judice rule to prevent questions being asked. Locsin says it’s strange, as it would permit witnesses to file cases to prevent their being required to give testimony. Furthermore, out of interdepartmental courtesy, the Supreme Court cannot prevent a future act of Congress, only rule on an act once the action has taken place.

The equipment’s being moved and then the joint hearings can start.

9:48 a.m.  Aladin Bacolodan says on ANC that Atty. Samuel Ong has resurfaced, sort of -he will appear before Congress if the Department of Justice drops its cases against him. He says Isafp was obviously the source of the Garci tapes.

10:07 no hearings yet.

10:09 a.m. apparently it began at 10. ANC was late. Humph. Rules for the hearings being debated. RG Cruz says 100 congressmen have lindicated they want to ask questions.

10:12 mild panic (on my part) as the TV image keeps going on the fritz. The last thing we need is TV coverage to vanish because a “cable broke.”

10:14 DZBB coverage has Rep. Teodoro Locsin, Jr. comes down strongly against contumacious statements by congressmen. Another committee chairman says privilege speeches will not be allow. Rep. Jacinto Paras opens his big mouth again (he should be given a magnificent reward by the government for helping it stay in power), mercifully briefly.

Rep. Golez asks if other resource persons have been invited. No, one chairman says, in order to prioritize Garci’s comments. Paras pops up again: reiterating his objection to the 3 minute question limit. Paras obviously does not believe in teamwork and does not believe himself, or his colleagues, capable of asking pithy questions.

10:18 DZBB coverage breaks off. Still no ANC. Ugh.

10:20 Whew. ANC back. Garci slouching in chair, wearing a grey suit, talking to some mummified-looking lawyers.

After several minutes of Karmina Constantino filling in airtime, then brought in RG Cruz who says Michaelangelo Zuce is in the audience. (at 10:25 video disappeared again).

10:28 ANC coverage resumed, Escudero complained about Garci’s lawyers; Rep. Cayetano asks if Smart and Globe have submitted the President’s cellphone bills; a suspension; sudden brownout here where I am, erasing my entry and really pissing me offl resumption at 10:33 at which point Rep. Remulla makes a point of information about DFA information he wanted; Paras tries to butt in; other congressmen listed to make noise.

10:35 Rep. Villafuerte asks for a clarification about Samuel Ong’s invitation, subpoena or warrant of arrest; chairman says three invitations to Ong have been made. Villafuerte needles chairmen about Ong’s resisting to appear before the House; chairman says the body can decide on whether to issue a warrant of arrest. Rep. Martinez tries to barge into the que. Pichay growls that preconditions should be set aside and allow Garci to speak. The congresswomen chairing the joint hearings is, alas, not as adept a parliamentarian as Rep. Remulla turned out to be.

10:40 Garci wants to talk. Rep. Lagman jumps in, cites the rules: if a resource speaker is to make an opening statement, he should file a copy with the secretariat at least 24 hours before the hearing and executed under oath; was it prepared? Rep. Locsin says that subpeonas have been issued; tthat Garci ignored Congress’s summons; nothing is lost by taking the moral and constitutional highground and letting Garci say his piece; also that the lawyers of Garci and Garci himself were not likely to have been informed of the rule and so the rule cannot apply. Lagman: well, okidoki, just remind y’all there are rules and the lawyers are presumed to know the rules.

10:43 Does Garci have a statement? Garci: indeedy I do! Meeting suspended for a few minutes (so that congressmen can sign up to ask questions). Ricky Carandang: the usual yaddah, yaddah, yaddah, wrangling over the rules. He says it seems that the opposition is more interested in delaying things while the administration congressmen want to get on with it. He says Garci’s appearance before the House might be matched, in a sense, by the expected appearance of Atty. Ong before the Senate tomorrow.

10:50 hearing resumes. Garci begins. He thanks Locsin for reminding everyone he has been invited, and is not accused. He thanks Congress for the invitation. He appreciates it very much, since he’s been so maligned and convicted before the bar of public opinion. Informs the House he’s filed two petitions before the Supreme Court: one, to void the warrant of arrest; the other, concerning the “alleged” conversation between himself and the President. He invokes the sub judice rule. Then he says, to show his good faith, he will speak of all matters outside the wiretapped conversations.  He invites all the politicians who called him up to tell the public what they talked about.

He says he cannot convince the public; says it’s unfortunate he only came forward now, but says he was running for his life, not mainly from the opposition, but from the administration because they might not understand what he wanted to say. Then the 1 million peso bounty for his arrest made him even more fearful; he had to keep on running. He says he did want to come out and saying something: “but you know, it’s only now that I realize, probably, that the public would want to listen now… and if they listen, they would know the true score.”

10:55 questioning begins. Suplico makes noise. Suplico and Paras are officially the Heckle and Jeckle of the House. Garci grandiloquently offers to subscribe and swear to his affidavit before one of the chairmen (committee on public information). Meeting suspended.

10:57 Garci swears to the truthfulness of his affidavit. Rep. Golez wants Garci to sign every page of the affidavit. Meeting suspended again.

11:00 am Hearing resumes. Garci signing pages like a true bureaucrat (swiftly). Rep Escudero begins his questioning.

Escudero: Maayong buntag. Are you fluent in Visayan?

Garci: Visayan, Ilocano, some Bicol… etc.

Escudero: Is a Comelec Commissioner a Comelec Official?

Garci: Yes.

Escudero: You were CIC for Region 4 and 5. What were your responsibilities?

Garci: Supervised general activities in the regions; received reports; gave instructions on manner Comelec people conducted elections; gave instructions to Comelec officials to go around and find out peace and order and other circumstances.

Escudero: Anything else?

Garci: Each Commissioner was given two regions.

Escudero: Any time you asked to be involved in elections outside those regions?

Garci: I never asked; there were times I was asked to look into boards of canvassers in other places.

Escudero: You said it’s normal for candidates to call election officials?

Garci: Yes.

Escudero: Your lawyers said 8 congressmen and candidates called you; and that there would be more he would name. Who were the others?

Garci: Before I tell you who I talked to, not only on the phone but in person, upon their invitation, regarding their district concerns, let me say it’s not my habit to make indiscriminate accusations-

Escudero: So he won’t be uncomfortable, let’s clarify: did you say that of those who called you, not one asked you to cheat and that each one asked you merely to ensure clean elections?

Garci: I will confirm that; but I will ask those individual congressmen and senators to speak for themselves.

Escudero: So if we may ask him to read or list the names (he is directed to do so by the chair).

Garci: Senators Loren Legarda, Enrile, Madrigal…

Golez: interrupts (audience hoots; chairman says can we go on?)

Garci: Senators Lim, Gordon, Roxas, Lacson. Congressmen Clavel Martinez, Alan Peter Cayetano, Escudero, Macarambong, Nantes, Suarez, Fuentebella, Bravo, Villarosa, Mangonderato, Sandoval, Miranda, Golez, Zialcita, Silverio, Falcon, Carlos, Arvison, Clarete, Lagbas, Romualdo, Punzalan, and other political personalities: Atty. Liwayway Vinzons-Chato, ex reps. Jabar, Candazo, Falcon… Mayor Eusebio of Pasig, gov. of Catanduanes, former governor of Sulu… (there may still be others).

(Hooting from the audience; Chairman asks Garci to sign the list.)

Locsin warns gallery to keep quiet.

Escudero: I noticed two things. Candidates are from Luzon and Metro Manila, why would candidates from all over call you, what expertise might you have that people would call you?

Garci: It’s up to them to say why they would call me. All I’ll say is that at times they had concerns about their district.

Escudero: Why didn’t you just say it’s not my concern?

Garci: That would be ill-mannered. I was in charge of personnel. So naturally, I would answer questions concerning the placement of officials and I know where to get data. Besides, we’re obligated to render public service so naturally we’d render service.

Escudero: You never mentioned the President.

Garci: I did mention the President, I said aside from the President…

Locsin: Your saying this is in reference to the tape or all conversations with the President?

Garci: Remember the alleged tapes are sub judice…

Antonino: I would like to make an urgent motion to require those mentioned to submit affidavits about their conversations.

Locsin: I don’t think that motion is proper, it is directed at fellow members of the House, specially coming from a man who cannot remember if he had a conversation with the President. (Rep. Villafuerte seconds the motion anyway)…

Escudero: It’s not a proper motion to be seconded. Does Antonino mean everyone, and that would include the President?

Meeting suspended. Locsin angrily lecturing Rep. Antonino. Ricky Carandang reports hooting from the gallery. Mentions that curiously some of the most prominent voices on the tapes -Senator Barbers, for example- didn’t even appear in Garci’s list. Carandang suggests Garci is pointing only to conversations he had that are not on the tapes. Notes that congressmen have abandoned the usual parliamentary courtesy of not incriminating each other -“the kid gloves are off.”

Ricky Carandang, Plinky Webb and Karmina Constantino all point out Garci is a lawyer and knows how to hold his own in a confrontation; Carandang thinks Round One has gone to Garci.

11:35 hearings resume. Motion still pending. Rep. Antonino: withdraws his motion, explains he made the motion due to being bothered line of questioning addressed at witness; he felt the individual circumstances surrounding each conversation needed to be clarified; second, he felt if nothing was wrong with each conversation, each person should welcome the opportunity to clarify things. In light of extreme resistance to his motion, he says he will succumb to the resistance.

Escudero: Manifests that being bothered by his questions does not justify a motion; second, there should no double-standard, if congressmen were asked then everyone, including the President should be asked.

Antonino: wants to clarify. Is hooted at. Chairman cuts off microphone.

Escudero: You set aside President Arroyo in your list. Is one reason the fact that the President was the appointing authority?

Garci: I didn’t set aside the President. I’d mentioned it previously.

Escudero: You mentioned me before, so why did you only set aside the President?

Garci: I don’t know if you will accept that you met with me personally, I just said I was not out to harm anyone, unless you give me permission to reveal what we discussed.

Escudero: How long have you known the President.

Garci: When it comes to knowing, I’ve known her for a long time, and that’s it.

Escudero: A long time but no specifics?

Garci: Just that.

Escudero: Is Garci really your nickname?

Garci: I don’t know Garci. (laughter from gallery). If you address me as Garci, I won’t know you.

Escudero: So no one calls you Garci?

Garci: I don’t remember, but some close friends who are politicians jockingly call me Garci.

Escudero: So the President might call you Garci?

Garci: The President might call me that but it doesn’t mean we’re close…

(session suspended over question of whether congressman next in line can waive his time in favor of another; chair resumes and rules you can yield time if you’re next in line; Paras questions the ruling; Chair insistent on order of listing being followed; Paras whines some more; Chair cuts off Paras; Escudero clarifies the ruling).

Escudero: The President says she called you to protect her votes -or that she called someone to protect her votes. In your 25 year experience in the Comelec, what does protect my votes mean? Does it, by any chance include increasing votes garnered, or the shuffling of positions including AFP assignments? Securing witnesses or preventing their testimony? Does it include meeting with officials? And if not, what are the things a Comelec official usually does to protect the votes of a candidate who has asked for protection?

Garci: I can’t answer. Too many questions. Ask them one by one.

Escudero: To simplify matters, what is involved, when a Comelec official protects the votes of a candidate?

Garci: It never said anywhere, if you look, that the President said to protect her votes.

Locsin: No one faults you for conversing with candidates, I understand it’s not a crime or an impropriety. The crime may lie in what the conversations consist (of). Did any conversations include any improper action or behavior?

Garci: I refuse to answer unless the officials concerned give me permission to reveal our conversations.

Locsin: I take that as an admission that some of the conversations were improper. Can you tell us how conversations between Comelec officials and politicians are useful?

Garci: They’re useful if there’s a perceived bias that would go against a fair election.

Locsin: Would criminalizing conversations between Comelec officials and candidates serve any good purpose?

Garci: Not really.

11:54 Rep. Cagas: Can you present anything to show in fact you never left the country?

Garci: I have an affidavit of my cousin who says all the while I never left the country.

Cagas: You never went to Singapore?

Garci: I have not gone to Singapore.

(Custodio yields her time to Escudero)

Garci clarifies the President only called him once. The President asked why her lead of a million became only 800,000++, and that was after the elections. Escudero asks if the President in her “I am sorry” statement was referring to some other Comelec commissioner and not Garci; Garci replies only the President can answer that, and furthermore, he disagrees with the President’s apology because there’s nothing wrong with calling a Commissioner…

(1I’ll break off coverage at this point and from time to time as I have to meet my column deadline; will resume when I’m done).

12:13 p.m. Locsin, in response to an inquiry about sub judice: the chairs believe a person cannot file a case so sub judice will prevent their giving testimony on matters they have been asked to give testimony on. So he can object, and we can ignore his objections. Sub judice does not cover the proceedings of these hearings. Locsin adds that it’s in the rules that pending cases cannot affect hearings.

12:50 They break for lunch after Rep. Jaraulla appeals “for humanitarian considerations.” This was preceded by a marvelous moment during which Rep. Ronaldo Zamora proceeded to roll over Garci like an elephant seal over a sea urchin: was Garci invoking the anti-wiretapping law or not? Garci said he might, and he should, but he wouldn’t, not just yet, but he might, and maybe he should, but there’s the Supreme Court… But didn’t you file that petition, and so how can you invoke it, purred Zamora, to which Garci bleated, well, it’s a coincidence…

In a few hours he basically admitted everything while admitting nothing.

During lunch, ANC played (repeatedly) its interview with Atty. Samuel Ong who says he has not two, but four -four!- “master tapes,” but then enumerates conditions for his appearing before the Senate or the House (basically: drop the cases and guarantee his safety). Here’s coverage online: Inq7.net has Garcillano confirms talking to Arroyo in 2004 election and Lacson to file perjury case vs Garcillano.

1:45 coverage on ANC resumes. Former Speaker Fuentebella denies having talked to Garci. He makes a parliamentary inquiry: the House is continuing its inquiry? Yes. So the committees have not finalized their report? Well, the chair explains, the report was being firmed up but there was a motion to resume hearings if Garci reappeared. Fuentebella seeks to properly secure the recordings; and with regards to authentication, to pave the way for comparing Garci’s voice to the voice on the tape(s).

Remulla (Gilbert): Inquiry -at what point would it be proper to cite a witness in contempt?

Chair: When there is refusal to answer to any relevant question based on the subject matter; however, reminder that the subject matter is the conversation in the tapes.

Remulla: What happens when the witness lies to this committee?

(Meeting suspended briefly)

1:50 Rep. Locsin: There are grounds under the rules; the committee can vote by 2/3 majority, etc., etc. The contempt rule, however, is sparingly used by judges and even more so in legislative matters, the example of Norberto Gonzales is a case in point; let’s not invoke something we might be powerless to implement.

Remulla: You didn’t leave the country?

Garci: No.

Remulla: But I have a note verbale from the Singaporean government. Anyway, if you didn’t go to Singapore, where did you go off to for five months?

Garci: I was just around the Philippines.

Remulla: You said you were on the run. Where were you running to?

Garci: Mindanao and Luzon.

Remulla: Who were you with?

Garci: Some friends who were Christians and Muslims.

Remulla: Your friends are AK-47 wielding people?

Garci: Dunno what precisely the firearms were.

Remulla: You were aware of the subpoenas and summons?

Garci: I was not.

Remulla: But I recall a news report and some of us were upset you talked to a reporter and not us.

Garci: I did not know you were looking for me.

Remulla: So during those five months you didn’t know you were being sought?

Garci: I only knew there was a warrant of arrest. I never knew there was a subpoena, I was not properly served.

Remulla: Who do you think Singapore was referring to when they said a Virgilio O. Garcillano Jr. went to London from Singapore.

Garci: My name is Virgilio O. Garcillano, no “Jr.”

(Remulla points to research indicating that there are two or three Virgilio Garcillanos, but only one with middle initial “O.”)

Remulla: Do you have a passport?

Garci: I had one, but I can’t remember the last time I saw it.

Remulla: You remember names of over 30 people you talked to, but you don’t remember if you have a passport?

Garci: I have a passport, but I don’t know when I last saw it.

Remulla: Well, you would remember 2002 when the DFA issued you a passport. There’s only one Virgilio Garcillano with a passport, the other two don’t have passports. Was the Garcillano who went to Singapore someone else?

Garci: I’m not competent to answer.

Remulla: The Singaporeans are lying?

Garci: Dunno.

Remulla moves to issue a subpoena for Garci’s passport and a subpoena duces tecum for the passport mentioned by the Singaporeans, and for the DFA to ask Singapore for more details about the Singapore visitor, including photos. Chair asks why Remulla wants that info. Remulla says to possibly prove Garci is lying. Locsin says the NSO has incomplete records and all that would be proven is the incompetence of the government.  Remulla insists on his motion. Chair says no need, just ask Garci to submit his passport. Garci says well, if he can find his passport since he hasn’t been home yet. Remulla insist on the motion. Locsin: we will make a request to the DFA. Remulla: on a related point, can we ask for the passports of the pilot and flight crew of the plane the alleged Garcillano took to Singapore. Chair: why? Remulla: To validate the information from the Singaporean government. (hearing suspended).

2:10 Hearing resumed. Rep. Villafuerte suggests that instead of a subpoena duces tecum, the witness be given say, a week to look for his passport. That way it’s a voluntary act, and if it has a stamp, then he was lying, and if not, then it would belie the accusations against him.

Remulla: Considering that would mean I withdraw my motion; but if there’s no certainty we’ll meet next week, could we prepare a subpoena so that if he doesn’t submit his passport in a week, we could issue the subpoena?

Villafuerte: The first phase is voluntary; if he doesn’t submit it in a week, then the subpoena becomes effective.

Remulla: Yes.

Villafuerte: no objection. (Remulla restates his motion; it’s seconded; Rep. Antonino objects: how is such a demand in the aid of legislation? He seems to argue that a note verbale from a government should not be given weight over Garci’s testimony).

Remulla: A note verbale needs no corroboration. Questions Antonino’s memory: one reason for the hearings is to revisit procedures and policies governing entering and exiting the country and relevant laws.

Rep. Espina: Will Garci submit his passport?

Garci: I’ll do it in 10 days but I have to look for it.

Rep. Paras makes some noise.

Rep. Martinez: It’s proper we go into Remulla’s motion. We should ask DFA to submit the data, we could have it soon.

Locsin: I’m worried… Garci already said he wants to do it. We’re making it appear he wants to deny our request. He is not denying our request.

Antonino: These five committees were put together to determine the issues that have been propounded in Rep. Escudero’s privilege speech. Nowhere in that speech or the interpellations was the matter of passports brought up.

Locsin: Reviews the circumstances surrounding the speech. Points out Garci vanished in the midst of the investigations. Singapore says he left. Therefore the coming and going of Garci is relevant, as it goes to the reliability of the witness. We must provide him opportunity to clear himself. He’s brave enough to prove he did what he says, why are people trying to prevent examination of the issue? (Clever!)

Antonino: Brings up Webb case saying State Department certified the suspect was in the US but Philippine courts ruled he committed the crime. We have to prove things on our own. Locsin says such arguments are premature. Just produce passport first.

Rep. Alfelor: If we can ask him questions, do we have the power to prevent him answering questions we believe are not in aid of legislation?

Remulla: Since Garci says he’ll provide his passport, I withdraw my motion.

Locsin: If congressmen can dictate what questions are asked, that would promote congressional investigations in aid of whitewash. Once a committee begins its hearings, it’s more or less free for all; not that it should be undisciplined; the notion that congressmen can dictate what can or cannot be asked leads to the question if we’re instituting inquiries in aid of a coverup.

Alfelor: We also have the corollary power to stop. The main purpose is in aid of legislation.

Locsin: Just one point. In a previous hearing we actually got a lecture on political science from Kit Tatad. That was certainly irrelevant. But the point where you can throw things out or question things is in the committee report. Not during the asking of questions.

(More brawling; suspension).

2:31 p.m.  Resumed.

Rep. Martinez: Give Garci a timeframe for presenting his passport.

Locsin: We’re giving the witness 7 days to find his passport. Sufficient time, unless he has a mansion.

Rep. Lagman: The so-called Garci tapes have been played countless times publicly and privately. I would assume the witness has listened to the tapes, even due to curiosity. Has he?

Garci: Only once, but not even completely, around July 5.

Lagman: In that one tape you listened to, can you tell the joint committees when the conversation on the tape occurred?

Garci: Eh?

Lagman: The tape you listened to. Was there a date and time of the recording?

Garci: Yes, there was. But it makes me wonder if it was the original because there was a narrator.

(Chair chides Garci for editorializing)

Lagman: Can you recall what the dates covered by the tape(s) were?

Garci: No.

Lagman: Can I help you recall if they were before or after the election?

Garci: Can I consult my lawyers?

(meeting suspended)

2:37 p.m. meeting resumes.

Garci: May I refrain from answering as the question deals with the contents of the tape.

Lagman: I have laid the basis for my questions. The witness says he has listened to at least one tape…

Garci: I still maintain I cannot answer because it’s sub judice.

Lagman: It was during my time –

***coverage interrupted because of an explosion (an improvised small bomb, too small to even thoroughly wreck a vehicle) by Rep. Ronaldo Puno’s house. This follows on the heels of the strafing of a building belonging to the First Gentleman, which a shadowy military group calling itself “Enlightened Warriors”  says is it’s doing***

Question: convenient distractions?

2:44 p.m. ANC coverage resumes.

Locsin: It is not uncommon for judges to ask lawyers to clarify certain legal points. I need to ask this, because I’ve stated we will declare in contempt only when we can be sure of success; the senate attempted it and to its shame, it failed.

Paras: attempts to make noise and has his mike cut off. (Whee~!) Chairman descends to scold him.

2:52 Resumed. Homily re: impartiality.

Locsin: I was impartial. Lagman asking for ruling on two points. They were?

Lagman: Two aspects to the question. 1. A ruling whether, in a legislative investigation, sub judice can be raised by a witness. 2. A contumacious refusal to answer by a witness on the grounds of sub judice, can result in the witness being cited for contempt? I introduced an amendment after the 10th Congress to permit this; there’s US jurisprudence for this, one ruling points to the exemption of congressional investigations from the sub judice rule. Quotes from ruling. One branch cannot encroach upon the functions of another. Points to the House rules which specifies sub judice cannot prohibit testimony before Congress.

Locsin: Remarks are foursquare and answer conclusively that sub judice cannot be used, under law, jurisprudence and the rules, and common sense; in addition particularly so in a case where the witness himself has filed a case that makes possible the appeal to sub judice. The answer is affirmative to both questions.

Rep. Guillas: In a quavery voice, supports Lagman’s arguments, and says every law student learns this.

Locsin: Agree. Emphasizes legislative and adjucitative functions is drawn by the right not to incriminate one’s self.

Lagman reiterates his question.

Garci: I will still invoke sub judice and “my constitution right” (to what?) not to cast his own case in doubt; to answer might prejudice his pleading before the Supreme Court. He also invokes the Constitution, saying a person cannot be compelled to testify against himself. In other words, he pleads the Fifth.

Lagman: Nothing here to incriminate himself. The question has been properly and carefully propounded. Anyway. Before I move to declare the witness in contempt, let me ask further questions to prove how contumaceous he is. Having listened to a tape, did you recognize the voice as your own?

Garci: Can I consult my lawyers?

Meeting suspended.

3:18 Resumes.

Rep. Casino: Was I correct in hearing Garci invoke his right to privacy? Does that include acts done as Comelec commissioner?

Chair: I have to check if he did invoke that right.

Suspended. Resumes. Chair mumbles answer (what was it?)

3:19 Rep. Alfelor: Is power of contempt a power of the committee or a power of the chair?

Chair: Under the rules… (reads rule)… 2/3 of those present can cite a person for contempt.

Lagman: Do you recognize your voice in the tape?

Garci: I certainly cannot recognize my voice in the tape, considering I did not hear the full length of the tape.

Lagman: Do you recognize a semblance of your voice in the tape?

Garci: I cannot recognize even a semblance of my voice.

Lagman: Having listened to the tape and other voices, did you recognize any of the voices, or some of the voices, to persons that you know?

Garci: I was concentrating on trying to recognize my voice so did not manage to recognize anyone.

Lagman: Can you tell the committees if the recordings in those tapes were made before or after the May 10, 2004 elections?

Garci: I can only recall that the tape I listened to was made after the elections.

Lagman: After the canvassing of the elections in the House was towards the end?

Garci: Canvassing hadn’t started yet but almost all the results submitted to Congress.

Lagman: No need to invoke obstacles to questions, easy enough for you to answer. Is there any provision in the Omnibus Election Code penalizing conversations between candidates and Comelec officials. Would you recommend criminalizing such conversations?

Garci: I would only penalize conversations which are asking for help.

Lagman: You mean conversations meant to corrupt the electoral process.

Garci: Yes.

Lagman: You said political personalities talked to you. But you said, when asked if they asked you to cheat for them, that you would have to ask them before replying. Why can’t you say instantly whether you were asked to cheat or not? Are you trying to give the impression you need their permission because they asked you to cheat?

Garci: I didn’t say they asked to cheat. I merely said they should explain because so many asked for help.

Lagman: No one asked you to corrupt the electoral process.

Garci: Yes, your honor.

Rep. Casino makes a parliamentary inquiry: can portions of the tape be played in the future to refresh Mr. Garcillano’s memory and ask him certain questions? Chair: at the proper time. Rep. Cayetano: Is the witness under duress? Or testifying on his own free will? Garci thanks Cayetano for taking up the cudgels for him. His wife is with him. His daughter is in the States. Cayetano clarifies: so out of your own free will? Garci replies his listing of people he talked to was not meant to accuse them.

Cayetano: Did cheating occur in the last elections?

Garci: I have no knowledge of that.

Cayetano: but it’s possible cheating took place.

Garci: I can’t answer that.

Cayetano: But how can you say there was no possibility of cheating, since you were in the Comelec?

Garci: I didn’t see anything and didn’t do anything. People should step forward to prove it.

Cayetano asks a trick question, and concludes: for the record, a Comelec Commissioner said it can’t be said conclusively that GMA won. Rattles off election results. Asks if it’s possible to conclude cheating took place in Basilan. Garci says, I dunno. Cayetano rattles off numbers for Sultan Kudarat. Possible Cheating? Garci suggests the election chairmen should be asked.

Rep. Pichay raises a point of order. Says Cayetano’s questions should be directed to Congress, which canvasses votes for president and vice-president. Not the Comelec. Cayetano objects and asks why Pichay is answering for Garci and suggests Pichay take the oath. Meeting suspended.

3:40 p.m. Resumed.

Locsin: Point of order of Pichay seems to be well taken. The provenance of Cayetano’s documents has not been established. The inquiry if going into the actual conduct of elections in the South, I don’t know if that is covered by these hearings.

Cayetano says the figures come from Comelec documents, they’re official records. The graph though (he waved at Garci) isn’t a Comelec document. Recounts how the tapes mentioned the localities he asked Garci about. I’m testing his reliability.

Locsin: You are questioning his ability to recall… Cayetano insists the figures could support his argument but he’ll move on. Locsin says they’ve leaned over backwards to accomodate the questions. Locsin replies, the inconsistencies will be noted in the report and use your remaining time to adopt a new tack.

Another congressman suggests documentary evidence be properly identified. Says manifestations shouldn’t be longer than questions.

Cayetano moves that electoral documents be submitted, including Comelec and Namfrel documents. Suspended.

3:46 p.m. Resumed.

Antonino: Point of order. With regards to line of questioning and materials, it’s irrelevant. Should be properly presented in the form of an electoral protest and this is not a body to consider a protest. Second, the witness is being asked to speculate.

Chair: (amidst a Babel of voices) Cayetano was willing to defer his question so let’s proceed. We have two minutes to go before we suspend and resume at 4:40.

Escudero: If you raise a point of order, you have to cite the rules. Three points of order have been made without citing the rules broken. How can a Comelec commissioner not be asked about elections? Third, this is about suffrage and electoral reforms, which is why Locsin’s committee is here, if we can’t discuss elections why is that committee here? Garci can answer without people trying to prevent his answering and the answers being tested.

Locsin: Point well taken. I have leaned backwards. All these things are relevant. When question was propounded as to how Garci viewed elections, I thought it would be interesting to me. Among other things, we should be interested in exaggerated allegations of fraud, which means we might need to take remedial measures; or genuine occassions of fraud, in which case we would need to intervene. I thought all questions were proper.

Meeting suspended.

4:09 On TV, Rep. Edcel Lagman grumbles things haven’t gotten far as Garci keeps avoiding questions.

Meanwhile bomblets, not only at Rep. Puno’s, but in Paranaque and in Kalookan City. Let’s hope this won’t be the direction of the main news in coming days.

It doesn’t seem the interrogations will resume today.

4:55 Resumes. Rep. Marcoleta refers to committee report. Meeting suspended.

4:59 Resumed. Marcoleta withdraws his inquiry.

Marcoleta: When did you file your petition before the Supreme Court?

Garci: The first one Nov. 24, the other Nov. 25.

Marcoleta: What particular relief or remedies did you ask the Supreme Court for?

Garci: The first was the lifting of the arrest warrant. The second was to retrain the conduct of the investigation being conducted by the House, because the investigation violates the anti-wiretapping law.

Marcoleta: When you became a household name as your sworn statement says, when precisely did you become a household name?

Garci: I can’t say the actual date, but it seems people are generally using my name, sometimes in derision, within one or two months.

Marcoleta: How did you know your name became a household name? What documents or means did you base this on?

Garci: Even in the mountain where I used to around, even the kids, the people, knew about me, which made me even more afraid after the reward for my apprehension was offered.

Marcoleta: Did it occur to you, even if it would be difficult, you should come out in public even if you were in danger?

Garci: I wanted to, but there was imminent danger on my life and I was advised not to go public.

Marcoleta: If you only had a proper opportunity, you would have wanted to take advantage of it, to come out, if not for the danger to your life?

Garci: Yes.

(back-and-forth on Marcoleta’s “you would have surfaced, if only you weren’t frightened” questioning). Garci says he was afraid and ashamed. Marcoleta asks, if you wanted to come out and clear your name the first opportunity available to you, why did you file that case before the Supreme Court? Garci explained well, I didn’t want the humiliation of being arrested, and wanted a respectable means to come to Manila. Marcoleta asked with regards to conversations he had, could he remember the time and dates? Garci says no, but repeats for the nth time, that with his credibility shot, he’d prefer people to volunteer the substance of their talks. Marcoleta says the public has to judge Garci’s reliablity so he has to answer. Garci says well, one person, Rep. Villarosa gave him permission to discuss what they talked about, but that’s all he’s willing to discuss.)

5:09 Rep. Miranda manifests he heard his name’s been mentioned as talking to Garci. Voluntarily offers his sworn affidavit as to what they discussed. Gives background as to what their “brief meeting” was about. Chair replies they’re happy to receive affidavit but to use his own time to explain things.

More wrangling between Garci and Rep. Cayetano. Did he propose safeguards to the election returns? After all there’s a syndicate faking ER’s for the Comelec. Garci replies well, he suggested something but you know, the commissioners have different responsibilities. Cayetano asks so who didn’t follow through on safeguards? Garci replies, well, I don’t remember. Cayetano gets angrier. Garci replies, well, we’re doing our duty so no fraud takes place. Cayetano reiterates ER is easy to fake. Moving on…

Cayetano: Why did the President appoint you?

Garci: The President should answer that.

Cayetano: Will Garci tapes help answer that question?

Garci: I already answered re: tapes.

Cayetano: Is it your voice?

Garci: In this modern world, even a child can produce a voice that’s similar to mine. Even people here who can’t sing can be done in such a way as to be a good singer.

Cayetano: But the person can answer if it’s them or not. So did the President tell you to make her win?

Garci: The President didn’t instruct me to ensure her 1 million margin.

Cayetano: So what did the President tell you?

Garci: I didn’t say the President talked to me.

Cayetano: So which is it? Did you talk to her or not?

Garci: I didn’t tell you I talked to the President. I told another Congressman I did.

Cayetano: So a different answer for that congressman and another answer for me? Excuse my frustration but we want only one answer. Did you talk to the President Was there cheating? So let me ask you, you want closure, but if you won’t answer, what do you want, closure by our accepting all your answers?

Garci: I don’t insist you believe me. I didn’t give a different answer to you and to Rep. Lagman. I simply can’t say if the voice on the tape is mine or not.

Garci explains that what the President asked him was why her lead, already at a million, shrank to 800,000 plus.

Rep. Antonino lobs softballs.

5:30 p.m. Antonino concludes, after a long discussion on electoral procedures, that cheating would have required an army of accomplices for fraud, and that Garci can’t answer but instead, those involved have to interrogated individually. Not Garci, but the underlings.

Garci: Sure! The underlings, the provincial boards of canvassers. The Comelec doesn’t gather figures for the votes for president.

5:33 p.m. Golez: is it normal for a president to call Comelec commissioners.

Garci: I don’t say it’s normal or abnormal but anyone can call a Comelec official. I can’t speak for the others, but I was called but after May 24.

Golez: You say you had a good record at the Comelec. But there are allegations in the papers you were a master of dagdag-bawas.

Garci: Those were reports but no one said I was an author of bawas-dagdag (Freudian slip? Why is his terminology different? Bawas-dagdag instead of dagdag-bawas).

Golez asks about his living in a particular Mindanao Location. Garci says he went there but didn’t live there. Golez asks if Garci’s hard of hearing since he couldn’t identify his voice. Garci says he can’t say. Golez asks why Christian Monsod says it’s Garci’s voice on the tape. Garci replies I dunno. Muddled discussion on knowing and identifying voices. Golez: would you submit to voice verification or authentification? Garci: you can use whatever I say here. Golez insists he read from the transcript so it can be compared. Garci: I didn’t say I’d insist. At the time I admitted I had a conversation with the President… Golez insists he read from the transcript and it be recorded and be compared to the tapes. Garci: What we’re doing now is already a sample. We could read the transcript. Golez offers to hand him the transcript so he can read from it. The transcript is handed over and Garci asked to read the highlighted portions. (I hope Dean Jorge Bocobo is recording this so he can do comparisons). Garci: can you give me something else because to read this would be an admission of the tape!

Villafuerte steps in to try to rescue Garci. Says Golez is trying to obtain samples of voices on a subject being contested by the witness. Entrapment! Meeting suspended.

5:48 p.m.  Resumed.

Garci says Golez’s demand would be prejudicial to his case. Objects to the PCIJ transcripts. Golez insists. If he refuses on the grounds it might incriminate him, I (Golez) would like to hear it from him. Rep. Antonino vigorously objects. Golez objects to the objection. Chair appeals for people to stick to the rules and asks manifestations be made later. Antonino makes a parliamentary inquiry: what exactly is the transcript being presented? Rep. Martinez says the inquiry is out of order. Suspended.

(Let us pray that members of Congress read Robert’s Rules of Order over the holidays).

5:54 p.m. Resumed. Suspended again. Martinez on warpath against Antonino. You can’t, she says, make a manifestation and interrupt someone’s questioning then suddenly shift to a parliamentary inquiry.

RG Cruz on TV says the House wants to finish the interrogation today. Ricky Carandang pops up in the studio at 6:10 p.m.

6:15 and the Congressmen look like they’re having a cocktail party. Whee. Ricky Carandang reiterates Congress initially wanted to finish it today, but might have to result in another hearing soon. RG Cruz says his sources say they want to end the hearing around 8 p.m. Carandang says Mrs. Garcillano says they might attend the Senate hearing tomorrow.

6:25 Resumed.

Golez: My request is simple. For Garci to read three lines from the transcript. Not to authenticate the transcript, but to serve as a good basis for voice analysis. If it’s proven that the voice on the tape is not his voice, then we will have closure. For the sake of the country. Etc.

Garci: The question is fascinating. I find it very interesting. It is intriguing. Answering it will prejudice my case before the Supreme Court. (Rattles off titles of transcripts). I hope you understand I cannot read these transcripts.

Golez can’t understand why it would prejudice the case. Is it because it would incriminate him? (Exchange with Chair over time).

Locsin: Is this a question being propounded to the witness, or is it a request for him to perform an act?

Golez: Well… Garci agreed… It’s very germane to the authentication of the tape.

Locsin: I wanted to clarify…

Golez: Garci was on the verge of agreeing!

More wrangling -Garci can’t refuse to answer a question but he can refuse to perform an act- three chairs now involved. Garci asked to restate his position on Golez’s request. Garci says his position is to accede would be to authenticate the tape. Golez insist. Garci insists. Chair appeals for order. Golez like a terrier biting into a rat -won’t let go. Chair insists they move on. Golez wants to know why (for the nth time). Garci reiterates for the nth time. Golez has to learn to respect Garci’s argument. Rep. Solis jumps in and expresses exasperation over the repetitions. Chair directs Golez to move on.

Golez: The listing of people Garci talked to has an erased entry. Why the erasure? Considering the name is of prominence. It couldn’t be a typographical error. So why was name crossed out.

Garci: We can reinstate that.

Golez: What’s this! You dagdag then make bawas the name? Is he trifling with the committee? What names will be added and deleted later?

Rep. Ortega moves for adjournment. Seconded. Escudero says that since Zuce et al. have been mentioned in Garci’s affidavits, they should be allowed to defend “their honor” if they appear; with regards to Capt. Mendoza, since he is serving, he should be invited.

6:37 p.m. Meeting adjourned until Dec. 13 at 10 a.m.

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  1. Leo Castillo

    Great stuff. Kudos for doing this, especially since I don’t have any TV to see any of it. 🙂

    Blogging as the new journalism? Ladis and Gentlemen, Exhibit A!

    Leo

  2. sleeping with who

    The war of words has just started..

    Garci: Senators Lim, Gordon, Roxas, Lacson. Congressmen Clavel Martinez, Alan Peter Cayetano, Escudero,

    What i noticed it was Escudero that was asking the questions but he did not.. turn about and say something like..

    So what did we talk about

    Is this then an admission that he called the commissioner during the election..

    No wonder he was worried about his safety, he spoke to the entire opposition…

    Agree.. With the outcome so far one–nill Garci leads..

  3. mlq3

    Leo, thaks, but it’s not a verbatim account, it’s heavily editorialized and summarized, but a rough guide, I guess, to what’s going on.

  4. Leo Castillo

    You’re welcome, MLQ. Yes, it’s not verbatim, but it’s not much different from how reporters give perspective from what’s going on during a major event. Kudos pa din. 🙂

    Leo

  5. mlq3

    Thanks Leo!

  6. kulas

    good for me. in the office working. well editorialized

  7. kulas

    good for me. in the office working. well editorialized

  8. joey legarda

    If we insted put all our efforts in establishing the authentisity of the tapes, meaning: who did it, by what means, who ordered it, having the mater copy, who sold it to whom & for how much.
    And above all if such a tape can be considered a valid piece of evidence. Then we won’t be waisting our time watching our politicians “perform” in front of the cameras and insisting that Garci admit to something w/c is the fruit of an illegal act.
    And treat him as a criminal & not a victim.
    Actually we are all victims too also to this drama because we have lost so many precious opportunities to improve our lives all because of an obsession or entertaining the animal instint in us & forgeting about fairness all together.

  9. renmin

    A simple way for the House representatives to go around Garci’s stonewalling by invoking sub judice is for them to ask him directly about the personalities and events referred to in the tapes without making any explicit reference to the tapes themselves. PCIJ and Newsbreak have done a very good job of piecing together the chronology of events and list of personalities (from prominent politicos like GMA herself of course, Mike A., Barbers, to backroom operators like Ruben Reyes and Efraim Genuino, to obscure COMELEC functionaries like Atty. Lintang Bedol, Wynne Asdala, etc.). They should use this information to pin him down. Garci should be asked whether or not he talked to or otherwise dealt with these individuals, what was the nature of their dealings, etc. These people can also be summoned so their side can be heard. Garci can lie or make blanket denials but at least the investigation on electoral fraud will move forward in a more productive direction.

  10. mlq3

    renmin, that’s presuming the congressmen have done their homework.

  11. Karl

    Just finished watching part 1…

    in the morning Garcia overconfident many audience…

    in the end only media and a few left garci still answers questions he wants answered thenn refusing what he does not want to be asked….then exiting at the VIPS exit…

    tomorrow at senate do they still need him there?

  12. karl

    Why d I always say garcia

    force of habit (my surname)

    There was along break which I thought we could hear Garci read a few lines form the PCIJ transcript
    I thought kaya matagal bibigay din…..hindi pala

    till tuesday 10 am
    which is not yet the deadline for his passport…

  13. Carl

    At the end of the hearing, Garci was greeted in a chummy way by the likes of Paras, Crisologo and other opposition congressmen. Makes you wonder. With the amoral kind of politics we practice, I am not at all surprised that Garci was friendly with a lot of politicians from all sides of the fence. After all, in politics, winning is the name of the game.

  14. a de brux

    I see no point in going on with the Garci hearings. The man is a lawyer and knows how to parry questions. The more I read of the blow by blow account, the more sceptical I become – no truth is gonna come out of this except that Garci is convincing everybody that he’s an inveterate liar.

    Honestly, the Garci hearings are a low-class circus act.

    Nothing will come out of them. I get the feeling that Garci will walk out of the House feeling victorious that he’s he’s twitted the members of the legislature.

    The best thing to do is to bound and gag him and fly him him to Scotland Yard for lie detector tests and be done with all these Congress hoopla. If the tests show that he’s not lied then good on Gloria, if they show that he’s lied, then hang both Gloria and Garci from a lampost, tarred and feathered!

    All the posturings, the questionings and all the blahs are just a waste of people’s rations.

  15. Ellen Tordesillas

    Thanks for the blow by blow account.

  16. x

    i’m forseeing Bentong to have a few of “Garci” guestings in sitcoms the coming weeks… anyone else notice the uncanny resemblance??

  17. Karl

    Thanks for the blow bly blow play by play

    I did watch the whole nine yards(hours)
    but there were many interruptions and since I am in the couch I slept or dozed off in some…
    reading the play by play made me understand the gaps…

  18. mlq3

    Thanks Ellen!!! And Karl.

  19. Karl

    Anytime MLQ3

  20. dora

    how i wish garci would be able to realize that he made a mystery in the phil govt by not telling what is the real equation in this history..
    you are invited to visit us at http://www.farmout.ph
    thanx and Pinas has still its future basta maging maayos ang lahat

  21. ANGIE

    Hm, it is very coo site only for sweet people! 😉

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