Friday, August 12, 2005

Root of Dy's Discontent

by Ellen Tordesillas
SOME members of the political opposition say they would be happily surprised if former Isabela governor Faustino Dy, Jr. would decide to spill the beans on what he witnessed during the many times that he was with Gloria Arroyo during the 2004 elections campaign.

That's because despite the fact that Dy has been vocal about his resentment towards Arroyo, they know that Malacañang knows Dy's vulnerabilities. "Given Malacañang's desperation, I would not be surprised if they have already started the pressure," said a politician who knows the Dys.

A source who had talked with Dy said there were two cases in the last election where the former governor felt betrayed by Arroyo: his defeat to radio announcer Grace Padaca and the startling loss of Angelo Roncal Montilla, gubernatorial candidate of the Nationalist People's Coalition in Sultan Kudarat.

Dy, whose family has controlled Isabela politics for decades, believes that GMA's husband, Mike Arroyo, operated against him with the help of Isabela Rep. Edwin Uy (Lakas-2nd district). Padaca was the gubernatorial candidate of Raul Roco's Aksyon Demokratiko.

As NPC chairman, Dy took up the cudgels for Montilla who found himself in the losing end after posting what was seemingly a formidable lead of more than 28,000 over Lakas candidate Pax Mangudadatu.

Yvonne Chua of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, in her article on Lintang Bedol, provincial election supervisor for Sultan Kudarat in the last election, said "There was problem (too) at the canvassing for the gubernatorial election. Opposition candidate Angelo Roncal Montilla was leading Pax Mangudadatu until the votes from the last three of the province's 12 towns came in. Mangudadatu had gotten nearly all the votes cast in Palimbang, Lutayan and Lambayong Mariano Marcos towns. Montilla at first filed a poll protest with the Bedol-led board of canvassers, but later elevated his case to the Comelec office in Manila (SPC No. 04-132) after the board dismissed it outright."

In the Hello Garci tapes, there was a conversation between former Comelec Chairman Virgilio Garcillano and someone believed to be Dy. In their talk, Dy said not to bother about his own case and all that he was asking was to help Montilla. But there was something intriguing about Garcillano's replies.

Excerpts of the Garcillano-Dy conversation (May 28, 2004, 12:58):

Dy.: Hello, hi Commissioner, si Dy 'to. Ito ang kwan Gil…

Garcillano: Sultan Kudarat?

Dy.: Oo, si…Montilla.. tulungan natin yan.

Garcillano: Pro-forma lang yan, kung ano ang posisyon. Kasi nag-usap din kami ni Ma'am diyan, tinawagan niya ako pero di yan.

Dy.: Tinawagan ka ni Presidente tungkol dyan?

Garcillano: Hindi naman tungkol dyan pero kakausapin ko din siya tungkol dyan.

Dy.: Sabihin mo, yan lang naman ang hihilingin ko naman eh, yan lang ang hihilingin ko sa 'yo, alam mo naman hindi ako humihiling sa 'yo.

Garcillano: Hindi. Naipit na nga ako dun sa kaso...

Dy.: Yung tungkol dun sa 'kin pabayaan mo na yan. Ok lang ako.

The above conversation shows that Montilla's case was so important as to be discussed by the Comelec commissioner with the President. Garcillano said that he was being caught in the middle.

A source said Montilla, confident that he won overwhelmingly over Mangudadatu , moved heaven and earth to prevent his opponent from stealing the election from him. Aside from Dy, he contacted his uncle in Negros Occidental who was one of the campaign leaders of Rep. Ignacio "Iggy" Arroyo, brother of Mike. Montilla's uncle advised him to forget about his protest. He was told that Malacañang was offering him a government position.

Montilla didn't bite the government job offer. Instead he found a connection to Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos. His wife happens to be related to Abalos' wife. Through their s wives, Abalos sent a message to Montilla: Don't pursue your protest.

At that time, Montilla and Dy were perplexed about Abalos' advice. They got their answers in the "Hello Garci" tapes. Montilla's protest, if pushed through, would have revealed the vote-padding done in favor of Arroyo. That's why Garcillano, even if he was sympathetic to Dy's request, had to clear the request with "Ma'am".

In the same PCIJ article, Chua said, "According to the congressional tally, President Arroyo beat Fernando Poe Jr. in Sultan Kudarat, 126,622 to 40,714. Congressional records showed that opposition senators Aquilino Pimentel, Tessie Aquino-Oreta and Sergio Osmeña III objected to the certificates of canvass (COCs) and demanded a return to the election returns (ERs) amid charges that massive "dagdag bawas" (vote padding and shaving) took place in the province.

"The minority said in a report that the President got an additional 53,158 votes in eight towns, while Poe's votes were reduced by 60,014. The "dagdag-bawas" in the towns involved a swing of 113,172 votes, it said. The eight towns: Palimbang, Kalamansig, Lambayong, Lebak, Bagumbayan, Esperanza, Sen. Ninoy Aquino and President Quirino."

As showed in a conversation between Arroyo and Garcillano (May 26, 2004, 11:04) on the threat of Sen. Biazon to have ballot boxes in Tawi-Tawi opened, she didn't care if her partymates were adversely affected. What was important to her was, her padded votes wouldn't be reversed.

The source said Dy, who is known to be a cunning politician, had been outsmarted by the wily Arroyos." That makes him furious."

In the 2004 elections, the NPC made a policy that members could make their own individual decisions on whom to support in the presidential race. Although Dy had pledged support for Arroyo, a source said she was not sure of his loyalty.

FPJ won in Isabela. "At least Dy, didn't do some hard-selling of GMA. Probably because he was also protecting himself. He didn't want to turn off voters," an opposition politician said.

GMA's distrust of Dy made her keep him close to her throughout the campaign. In his Aug. 6 statement read by his lawyer in Los Angeles, where he has been staying since last year, Dy said, "I have openly and actively campaigned for her (Arroyo) not only in my province but in other parts of the country as well."

A government official who was Dy's occasional golfing buddy said he would complain during the campaign that he had no more time to play golf because GMA was always summoning him to attend meetings.

"That is called 'protective surveillance'," a retired military official said.

That was how Dy became a witness to a number of meetings of Arroyo with different groups in connection with the 2004 elections. One of those meetings was with Comelec regional directors and provincial election supervisors at the Arroyos' La Vista home.

Michaelangelo "Louie" Zuce, a liaison officer in Malacañang's Office for Political Affairs said that in that meeting, Lilia Pineda, wife of alleged jueteng lord Rodolfo "Bong" Pineda gave envelopes containing P30,000 each to the Comelec officials.

A confirmation by Dy of Zuce's testimony would deal a further blow to Arroyo's beleaguered presidency.

In his statement, he said "only the truth and national interest are my guide."

The Filipino people are waiting with bated breath.


Anonymous said...

The Close-minded rascals
Editorial, The Freeman, August 12, 2005

There has got to be something wrong somewhere when individuals or entire societies begin to accept one side of the story as entirely right and the other side of the story as entirely wrong.

What that situation suggests is that close-mindedness has set in, or at least is becoming apparent that is the direction it is headed. When that happens, the open-mindedness that has been responsible for the growth and development of mankind will come to a complete stop.

Mankind will consequently stagnate, preferring to settle on that which its closed mind has dictated. There is no more excitement in pursuing a question, pride in the triumph of discovery, honor in having made some contribution to society.

That situation is what is slowly creeping in on Philippine society, as evidenced by how some people assume the political opposition to be saints who can do no wrong and the administration to be demons who can do no right.

The crisis that has engulfed the country is not simply about President Arroyo having allegedly cheated her way to victory or of her family having accepted bribes from illegal gambling lords.

If it were as simple as that, then not even all the angels in heaven can stop the ouster of Arroyo from power. But that is not how it works. And so there are open-minded people who do not immediately jump to conclusions and take immediate drastic action.

Their open-mindedness forces them to take a look at a wider perspective, to look at the entire forest instead of just focusing on a few trees. And that allows them to see the bigger problem, which is that everybody else is just as corrupt and as a cheat as is allegedly Arroyo.

In other words, while it may be right to remove Arroyo on the basis of such perception, it is gravely wrong to remove her on eth basis of the say-so of those who are just as tainted as she is, or worse.

And even more terrible scenario is if, upon removal, Arroyo is replaced by the very people who are accusing her, people who are clearly far worse than she is. It is not only an injustice to Arroyo, it is an injustice to the entire Filipino people.

Only the open-mindedness of people has so far prevented such a scenario from happening. (But let us not be complacent because like they say “the devil never rests.”).

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