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SC favors airing of ‘Garci’ tapes in first vote--sources

By Tetch Torres
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 15:55:00 02/12/2008

Filed Under: Elections, Judiciary (system of justice), Telecommunications Equipment, Telecommunications Services

MANILA, Philippines -- The Supreme Court is in favor of nullifying the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) order barring television and radio from airing wiretapped conversations between President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and a former elections commissioner on alleged plans to rig the elections in 2004, according to sources privy to the deliberations of the justices.

The high court, through Chief Justice Reynato Puno, has maintained that airing the audiotape was legal and covered by the constitutional right to information, the same court sources said.

Lawyer Jose Midas Marquez, high court spokesman, confirmed that the 15 justices met en banc (full court) session this Tuesday to discuss the petition filed by former solicitor-general Francisco Chavez who sought the lifting of the NTC order on the wiretapped tapes.

Chavez had accused the NTC of violating press freedom and the right of the public to information on matters of public concern.

On June 11, 2005, the NTC warned radio and television companies that they faced possible sanctions, including cancellation of license, if they aired the tapes.

But Marquez said although the justices had a preliminary voting on the case, some had reservations about their decision and opted to write their separate, dissenting, concurring opinions for the final voting on Friday.

The tapes appear to be of Arroyo in a conversation with then elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano over an alleged attempt to tamper the results of the presidential election in the incumbent?s favor.

Although Arroyo admitted to having talked to an election official and apologized to the nation for her ?lapse in judgment,? Garcillano, after whom the tapes were named, repeatedly denied that the male voice was his.

The expose on the tapes led to a political crisis that nearly caused Arroyo the presidency.



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