Brillantes bristles: I’m no Garci
MANILA, Philippines–Commission on Elections Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. on Tuesday bristled at comparisons with former Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, tangling with a senator over his alleged failure to investigate the “Hello Garci” scandal of 2004.
Appearing at a Senate hearing on electoral reforms, Brillantes expressed resentment over being called “Garci in disguise” by a senator who interpellated Sen. Grace Poe following her speech last month on the occasion of the “Hello Garci” scandal’s 10th anniversary.
Brillantes did not name the senator, but he was obviously referring to Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano.
Brillantes also denied promoting Garcillano’s “boys” in the poll agency.
He tagged former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former first gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo as the brains behind the alleged fraud that marred the 2004 presidential elections.
“How can I be called Garci in disguise? He was not my friend in 2004. He was not my ally in 2004. I don’t know who his allies were. What I know is that Garci was allied with GMA, FG, a family from Taguig [whose member] ran for senator in Lakas,” Brillantes said.
“If we are to investigate Garci, we should investigate who benefited from 2004, who were his allies in 2004. I want to know because I was with the opposition then,” he added.
Riled by this statement, Cayetano told Brillantes to his face he was “worse” than Garcillano.
The senator, who had a running feud with Brillantes in the past, confronted the Comelec chief about his promise to inquire into the fraud in the 2004 and 2007 elections jointly with the Department of Justice.
“You promised the Senate that you would investigate the ‘Hello Garci’ scandal,” Cayetano said.
Brillantes said he prioritized the investigation of the 2007 fraud because this involved electoral sabotage, while the 2004 fraud was a regular offense.
“None,” he admitted when pressed about the outcome of his investigation into the 2004 electoral fraud. He also admitted that he did not review the “Hello Garci” tapes.
Cayetano managed to elicit an admission from Brillantes that he did not investigate Rey Sumalipao, now the Comelec director in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), because he “did nothing wrong.”
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III had to suspend the hearing twice to stop them from speaking at the same time.
On May 28, Poe delivered a privilege speech recalling the “Hello Garci” scandal that she said robbed her late father, movie star Fernando Poe Jr., of the presidency.
Arroyo was accused of calling up Garcillano—an election offense—to inquire about the number of her votes in the elections thus far.
Poe said that while Arroyo was facing charges for a separate electoral offense, most of her alleged cohorts—Garcillano, Sumalipao, Benjamin Abalos Sr., Lintang Bedol and Ignacio Bunye—had escaped prosecution.
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