Sunday, June 26, 2005

Garci Tapes

Posted by Vinia Datinguinoo, PCIJ 

THE House of Representatives on Tuesday began its hearings into the wiretapping controversy involving Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano and several individuals including President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The five-committee inquiry has so far placed the spotlight on Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye who, on June 5 first told reporters that the opposition plans to release an audio tape of a wiretapped conversation that will imply that the President had talked to a Comelec election official about rigging the 2004 elections. On June 6 Bunye played before Palace reporters two compact discs, one of which, he said, contained the "original" conversations that were merely "doctored" by the opposition for its agenda. A third recording was released on June 10, this time by former NBI deputy director Samuel Ong, who said his was the "mother" of all the tapes that have been circulating.

We are running here a tabular comparison of some of the conversations contained in the two CDs released by Bunye and the three-hour recording from Ong. The parts that differ between the recordings are highlighted. While some may be simply the result of transcription errors, others show substantial differences in the content of the conversations.

In one conversation, for example, recorded on 9:43 am of May 29, Garcillano assures the President that her margin will not be less than one million. In the "original" version, after telling the president that the lead was, "as of the other day … 982," the Commissioner tells her that such margin will still increase, " Kung maganda ang result ng Lanao (If the results in Lanao are good)." In both the supposedly altered version released by Bunye and PCIJ's own transcript of the three-hour recording, Garcillano says, in English, "And then if we can get more in Lanao."

In a June 2 conversation, Garcillano tells the President there was no need to be too concerned about the reported mismatch between the statement of Votes (SOVs) and certificates of canvass (COCs) in Basilan and Lanao del Sur. (Read our previous posts about the votes in Lanao del Sur and ARMM.) Garcillano tells the President, " itong ginawa nilang pagpataas sa inyo, maayos naman ang paggawa eh (The upward adjustment they did for you was all right)." This statement is in the "altered" version too. It is not in the "original" recording; in its place is an explanation from Garcillano about why there could have been a mismatch: " Baka honest mistake lang ho dahil sa pagod at puyat ng canvassers (The canvassers are very tired, they must have made an honest mistake)."

And on June 10, in another conversation, the President discusses with Garcillano the canvassing in the town of South Upi in Maguindanao, where the Comelec had been proclaiming different winners. The President was worried that the confusion might affect the national candidates. Garcillano again assures her there was no need to worry. In both the "altered" version and the three-hour recording, he tells her: " Hindi ho. Ako ho ang may hawak nun (Don't worry, I'm the one who is handling that)." In the supposedly original recording, Garcillano's reply was, "Ay, hindi ho kasi may mga watchers doon, eh (Don't worry, we have watchers there)."

View the table here. Bunye tape 1 is what the secretary refers to as the original recording; Bunye tape 2 is what he calls the doctored version; and Ong's tape is the three-hour recording. Transcripts of Bunye's two versions are from Inq7.