IN THE KNOW: “Hello Garci” scandal
Then Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano was the alleged architect of an operation to rig the results of the 2004 presidential election in favor of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
In June 2005, in an effort to preempt the opposition, then Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye played to reporters two CDs of purported bugged conversations between Arroyo and Garcillano.
In the conversations, the voice of a woman, said to be Arroyo, could be heard asking a person on the other line to protect her 1-million vote lead against her closest rival, the popular movie action king Fernando Poe Jr.
Garcillano, 74, lost his position as Comelec commissioner after Arroyo failed to renew his ad interim appointment, which expired days after the “Hello Garci” scandal broke out.
On June 21, 2005, Congress opened inquiries into the alleged wiretapping of the President’s phone. Six days later, Arroyo made her unprecedented “I am sorry” speech on national television in the face of calls for her resignation.
She admitted talking to an election official whom she did not name, but said she was only anxious to protect her vote because of the slow canvass.
Garcillano ignored summons to appear before a congressional hearing and later under threat of summons turned himself to authorities on Dec. 4, 2005.
He denied speculations he had left the country and said he was in the homes of Muslim friends in Mindanao, reading and writing his memoirs.
Garcillano admitted he talked with Arroyo several times in 2004 but denied any wrongdoing.
Later in 2006, the Department of Justice dismissed all charges of perjury and falsification of legal documents filed against Garcillano by a number of lawmakers.
He ran for congressman in the first district of Bukidnon province as an independent candidate in 2007, and lost.
Garcillano was staying at his farm in Baungon, Bukidnon, the last time the Inquirer interviewed him in July 2009, when he endorsed the automation of the 2010 elections.