Sunday, July 31, 2005

Dy's Deadly Secret

Unforgettable golf round bared Dy's 1-year secret

Tony S. Bergonia
Inquirer News Service

IT WAS one round of golf that Faustino Dy Jr. and his golfing buddies—former senator Vicente Sotto III and Rep. Luis ''Baby" Asistio—would never forget.

It was during the ninth-hole break at a newly opened Sun City golf course outside Los Angeles late last June that Dy, former governor of Isabela, let out one secret that he had been keeping to himself for more than a year, according to a source close to the former governor.

The secret: A meeting that Dy attended in La Vista in the home of the First Couple in Quezon City shortly before the May 2004 presidential elections.

According to witnesses brought out in the open by Archbishop Oscar Cruz, it was in that meeting where money changed hands to influence the outcome of the elections.

According to another source close to Dy, the former governor is trying to stay away from the heat generated by that secret at home.

Dy had been licking his wounds in California following one of the biggest political upsets in Isabela and Philippine history.

"He doesn't relish being in the limelight as a result of this (scandal)," said the source. In fact, the source said, Dy is even angry at Philippine media because "now they run after him, but when he was campaigning (for reelection) he was all but ignored."

A day after that fateful round of golf, the golf buddies met again in another location and discussed details of the secret.

Contacted yesterday, Sotto confirmed that there was such a round of golf played but did not say much else.

Dy, a member of the political dynasty that has ruled Isabela for years, lost his reelection bid for governor to radio broadcaster Grace Padaca, a political neophyte.

Another source said while Dy was not volunteering to testify and in fact is reluctant to take the witness stand in the ''jueteng" investigation at the Senate, he said ''he would not tell a lie" if asked to testify.

The source, who helped in Dy's failed campaign for reelection as governor of Isabela, said the former governor shared the secret not knowing it would soon make headlines and rattle allies and officials of MalacaƱang back home.

According to the source, Dy also took flight after finding out with certainty that he was on the hit list of the New People's Army, who was believed to be supportive of Padaca during the elections.

How it got to bishop

Sotto, a key opposition figure, came home early this month with Dy's secret. The source said he passed the secret on to former Quezon City Rep. Tony Aquino, Sotto III's partner in a BMW dealership in Libis, Quezon City.

It was Aquino, said the source, who brought Dy's secret to Archbishop Oscar Cruz, who had been waging war on jueteng and demanding that President Macapagal-Arroyo come clean on it.

But Bishop Cruz initially hesitated to take the information hook, line, sinker since it appeared to be hearsay, the source said.

Bishop Cruz, the source added, wanted Dy to come out in the open or execute an affidavit attesting to what he saw, heard and did in the afternoon meeting at the house of the Arroyos in La Vista.

A group says no

It was the bishop's way of making sure the witnesses who volunteer information to him are not feeding him falsehoods.

The source said the "secret" was offered to a civil society group that was critical of Ms Arroyo. The group turned down the offer.

According to jueteng witness Sandra Cam, the meeting was more than just a social gathering among Ms Arroyo, Dy and several regional directors of the Commission on Elections.

In a press conference in Intramuros with Bishop Cruz and two other jueteng witnesses, Cam said millions of pesos changed hands during the meeting, which she said was called to make sure Ms Arroyo won by at least a million votes over her closest rival, the late actor Fernando Poe Jr.

At the meeting also, according to Cam who was quoting another source, was Lilia Pineda, mayor of Lubao, Pampanga and husband of suspected jueteng lord Bong Pineda.

Cam said her informant told her that Pineda, in the presence of Ms Arroyo, gave out P2 million in cash to each of the election officials who were there. Mayor Pineda denied the allegation.


Palace officials described the allegation as 'hogwash."

Dy and Padaca were among the names mentioned in the now controversial ''Gloriagate" tapes that former NBI Assistant Director Samuel Ong brought out in the open.

In a transcript of the tapes prepared by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), the controversial former Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano was supposed to have discussed the case of Dy with an unidentified caller.

Dy was moving heaven and earth to prevent a loss to Padaca.