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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Garci Speaks Out

Garcillano: Yes, I talked with Arroyo
By Michael Lim Ubac
Inquirer News Service

AFTER more than two weeks in hiding, Elections Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano broke his silence on the wiretapping controversy last night and denied in an exclusive telephone interview with the Inquirer that he conspired with President Macapagal-Arroyo to rig last year's balloting.

Garcillano also said he talked to a number of candidates in the last election. They include vice presidential candidate Loren Legarda, then senatorial candidate Mar Roxas, Minority Leader Francis Escudero on behalf of his father Salvador, an opposition senatorial candidate who lost in the election.

Before the election, Garcillano said, he also talked to then senatorial candidate Jamby Madrigal.

No favors

Garcillano said they did not ask favors from him and simply voiced their concern about possible fraud.

"Tell the people that the conversations that have publicly come out of the tapes are untrue," said Garcillano, speaking from an undisclosed place in Mindanao. "Many of those conversations were doctored," he said.

Garcillano specifically referred to a portion in the conversations in tapes released by the opposition purportedly showing that he was assuring Ms Arroyo of a one-million vote margin.

"I did not say that, I categorically deny that," Garcillano said in his telephone call made as a House investigative panel was playing one version of the tape submitted by Alan Paguia, former counsel of deposed president Joseph Estrada.

He said he had been reluctant to come out, pointing out that with the flood of speculation sweeping the country he had lost credibility before the public.

"The people are biased. I never did anything to destroy the electoral process. I am not that stupid," he said.

He said at the proper time he was willing to come out and confront his accusers.

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