Back to basics

The Philippine Daily Inquirer has the first of a series looking into the question of questions: what was the origin of the Hello, Garci tapes. Compare its findings with the story as put together thus far by organizations such as the PCIJ and published in magazines such as Newsbreak.

PCIJ, back on June 10, 2005, wrote,

There have been questions as to why the recording is being released now rather than last year, at the height of the controversy over the elections. What we have found out is that the CDs containing the conversations found their way to various opposition members last month. The reason the recording was leaked now, according to Senator Rodolfo Biazon, appeared to be linked to internal feuds within the ISAFP. Some factions within that once-feared military intelligence unit apparently wanted to use the tape as a leverage against the plan of AFP Chief of Staff Efren Abu to clip ISAFP’s wings by putting its Military Intelligence Groups under the control of the AFP’s five area commands. Under this setup, the ISAFP chief loses most of his powers, his functions becoming purely administrative rather than operational.

Newsbreak reported the following on July 4, 2005:

The Abu-ISAFP tiff came to a head on the eve of the December 23 burial of Fernando Poe Jr. last year. ISAFP went straight to the President and told her that a destabilization plot was in the works, presenting as evidence wiretapped conversations between dismissed Army Lt. Col. Oscarlito Mapalo and some retired generals. The AFP leadership, however, insisted that the information was groundless.

The President listened to ISAFP, anyway, instructing Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez to issue a statement, warning of a destabilization plot. Gonzalez’s basis was ISAFP’s wiretapped telephone conversations among anti-Arroyo people. The government got burned, and thus began ISAFP’s decline.

When Danga had to extend his medical leave, the President eventually agreed to replace him. Abu recommended Army Col. Fernando Mesa, with the approval of Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz Jr. But the President overruled them and named Quevedo instead (Danga’s personal choice) as the new ISAFP chief.

From what I gather, the above, combined, remain the most widely-accepted theory (actually more than a theory; it just hasn’t been elaborated upon because the journalists digging into the story need further verification without getting either themselves or their sources liquidated). In other words, as with any crime, we have known the motive since June: revenge. Someone within the ambit of the government was angry with the government, and so, hit at the government, perhaps even with the intention of bringing the government down. The mainstream opposition was too incompetent; the outraged middle forces dithered and debated too long; the Palace regrouped and went on a counteroffensive.

The Inquirer also has a story on the Palace reaction to the tapes. According to its account, Panic, confusion, started at the Palace on June 3, 2005. Compare its reportage with other findings according to the PCIJ, and other reports, such as Argee Guevarra’s.

The Inquirer article suggests there were two teams in play:

1. The “Before” Team, the so-called “Wednesday Group,” which did the original crisis management, composed of Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz, Rep. Ronaldo Puno of Antipolo city, Tomas Alcantara, Willie Villarama, Pancho Villaraza and the President’s husband, Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo.

2. The “After” Team, handling information, image, and logistics and the counter-offensive: Sec. Michael Defensor and Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita (the public spokesmen), Sec. Gabriel Claudio (the coordinator with the House of Representatives), Sec. Rigoberto Tiglao (de facto overall communications director, replacing Silvestre Afable), Rep. Ronaldo Puno (supposedly the “dirty tricks” specialist), Sec. Leandro Mendoza and Sec. Hermogenes Ebdane (“presumably, the sources said, to handle Garcillano and the ‘Hello, Garci’ witnesses”).

Let me just remind my readers that what made me decide the government was up to no good was less the tape(s) themselves, but how the government, including the President, reacted to the tapes. The tapes may remain within the realm of the illegal and unverified, but it is impossible for me to believe there wasn’t a grand cover up, and on that basis alone, it is enough to conclude that the President is unfit for office. The circumstances are strikingly similar to Watergate in the United States, which was more than enough to result in Richard Nixon’s resignation. The behavior of government, since then, leaves no room for the imagination: there will be no limits to what the government will do to stay in power. Read this message from the editor-in-chief of Newsbreak (remember them? They got a funeral wreath for their troubles?).

As for “it’s the economy, stupid,” Ricky Carandang suggests that having pointed out how Finance Secretary Gary Teves was obviously played by the President (and her people), what he predicted has finally come to pass. The Department of Finance says its clearing the decks for a change in policy: from damn the torpedoes, full VAT speed ahead, it’s now, recalculate the budget because VAT just got its wings clipped (and no new taxes to cover the shortfalls).

Oh, and I have a Reviews Blog, for the inner (and outer) Consumer in me.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

10 thoughts on “Back to basics

  1. Bizarre is the most polite word to describe Philippine politics. Ever the trapo, GMA didn’t tighten the noose around the crooked Erap’s neck, hoping to milk political concessions out of him and his fanatical supporters. Meanwhile, Erap enjoys his loot from jueteng, the PCI-Equitable merger, the BW Resources scam and other shenanigans he employed while he was President. Erap also uses his formidable resources to fund EDSA III and some opposition figures. He even manages to plunk down “at a bargain” P7 million for the “Hello Garci” tapes. A mere drop in the bucket for a man of his wealth. In the end, he may even manage to oust GMA. Because the opposition is indebted to him, Erap is forgiven for everything and given full honors. More importantly, he gets to keep his immense unexplained wealth. This is all a very possible scenario.

    We never learn. Cory allowed Marcos to escape with his loot almost intact. GMA does the same with Erap. Maybe GMA will have to pay for her sins of ommission and commission. But will she? Given our politicians’ creative minds for chicanery, the big-time crooks will always prevail.

    In the meantime, VAT was just political football to be kicked around. Or perhaps a hot potato no one really wanted to touch. So what happens to the budget dificit? What will happen to the peso-dollar exchange rate? I’m beginning to hear a loud sucking sound towards the south. I believe it’s the economy going thataway.

  2. instead of waiting for the tape to take its magical effect for political change and hoping to the ALMIGHTY for the weasel that is garcillano (dunce….dunce…dunce) to surface…panonoorin ko na lang si REP SUPLICO…he twines the most serious and supplemental issues in an obnoxiuos yet satirical way…btw yung DEBATE with MARE and PARE was cool last thurs…what do you think guys?

  3. Oh good lord. Plots, schemes, manoeuverings. Sleights of hand, pratfalls, missteps. So spectacularly byzantine for a small, benighted, perenially colonized land. We expend our energies in these elaborate political exercises, in games of intrigue, and deception while the world passes by. We waste our gifts–freedom, natural resources,people–our elites lay waste to it all in exchange for riches and power, building nothing but their own vanity and giving back only trifles. Sometimes the tragedy is unbearable in its constancy. Wake me up when we all grow up. It’s a long, long way back to basics.

  4. F, I agree. If we spent as much time and effort on economic and educational programs, or setting up a comprehensive energy program, we would be much better off today. For all the cloak and dagger stuff that Ping Lacson, “Ninoy” Aquino or Leandro Aragoncillo dig up, it doesn’t really help to improve our world. Other countries, including India which is now becoming a player in the world economy, spend more time looking for solutions to more basic problems.

  5. not until people in the business community and those religious wannabees stop entangling and “EPAL-ing” themselves in philippine politics will we ever achieve progress…secret deals, bribery, red tape, “padulas” and a lot more…the government should be run like a business (walang personalan) and those power broker businessmen should focus more on helping the public (it is their responsibility and purpose – just like those in the US and other countries)…ito kasing mga gahaman na may ari ng negosyo sobrang KURIPOT!!! they dont give back just take a lot…tsk tsk…at takot si GMA baka mawalan ng pondo…

  6. sure as hell better run than the way things are done right here…sorry for the wrong impression but i think it should be less personal and more “busines-like”…things that must be done should be done…no fuss…no excuses…less politics more action…i may not be american or a political scholar or both but theres one thing i know…those countries use private funding to further both their careers and their voters as well (kurakot man at least ginagamit pa rin sa constituents nila) as opposed here (which i know im sure) where the money gained is used for personal “consumption” and to get to power to obtain some more…im not suggesting we run the country like the yankees or like the britons do their’s…im just implying that they follow the good points…

  7. excitment, intrigue and gossip will not get us anywhere!!!
    getting toi know more details is interesting but lets not lose sight of the hard work ahead that will give us a secure future.
    from what i understand the “garce” tapes was a product of unprofessionalisim, intrigue,turf war,politics and making big bucks!!!!!!!
    unless it’s a national policy that “anything goes” to bring down an administration for the most bizzare reasons, then, that will be a justification for those who want to squeeze the issue to the hilt!!!
    but for those who leave in the real world and don’t want to be used as a tool for others ambitions, i tink it’s about time we give this a rest and try to learn from it so that this mega disasters may not be repeated again.
    we are being left behind by the world!!!!!!

  8. Its over MLQ3 the Gloira tapes are over, Wake up think about life and get on with it.. There are more interesting things now days…


    I would have liked it if you had taken your Women Day article and made it a better series and actually championed some of the real issues there..


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