Pushes for fact-finding body to probe 2004 election fraud
MANILA, Philippines - A 50-minute video explaining how former President Gloria Arroyo allegedly stole the presidency from her rival, the late movie star Fernando Poe Jr., may be presented to a proposed fact-finding body that will investigate allegations of fraud during the 2004 elections.
Sen. Francis Escudero, who was Poe's spokesperson in the 2004 campaign, presented the video to Senate reporters during a forum on Thursday. He earlier filed a resolution proposing the creation of the fact-finding body
Escudero said he is willing to present it to the proposed commission if Congress approves of it, amid the surfacing of key players in the alleged rigging of the 2004 and 2007 polls who all pointed their fingers at Arroyo.
Titled "The 2004 Elections: The Truth Behind 'Hello, Garci,'" the video was produced three years ago by movie producer Marichu Maceda, one of Poe's supporters, Escudero said.
"Para ma-refresh at mabalik-tanawan ang mga kaganapan noong 2004, para sariwain ang mga dapat at marapat na unawain nung panahong 'yon," Escudero told reporters, when asked why the video was produced.
The senator added Poe's supporters also wanted to keep it for posterity.
The video's first part narrates important events leading to the 2004 presidential polls and those after it:
- Arroyo's declaration in 2002 that she will not run for president and her reversal of it the year after,
- Poe's announcement of his candidacy,
- the controversies the marred the elections,
- Poe's electoral protest, his death, and,
- the "Hello, Garci" scandal.
It then gives a run-through of the election process, and how various steps were allegedly violated by Arroyo's forces.
The video also explains how a wiretapped conversation between two people, alleged to be Arroyo and former election commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, planned to cheat in the elections. This eventually came to be known as the "Hello, Garci" scandal.
Escudero said Poe's supporters had presented the video in several fora before, but Thursday was the first time it was shown to the media.
He said he is bent on pursuing the creation of the fact-finding body, while acknowledging that the results of the 2004 elections may no longer be reversed.
"Ito'y para lamag, una, iwasto ang kasaysayan ... At pangalawa, symbolic na lang siguro na makilala rin kung sino ang talagang nanalo noong eleksyon," he said. "Mabigat na bigyan natin ng pagpapahalaga ang mayoryang ibinigay kay FPJ noong 2004."
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile is against Escudero's proposal. Escudero hopes, however, that Enrile won't block his efforts.
If formed, the commission will be composed of a retired Supreme Court justice to be appointed by the President, the Justice secretary, a commissioner of the Commission on Elections to be chosen by the head of the poll body, the Ombudsman, a senator to be selected by the Senate President, and a congressman to be picked by the House Speaker.
The body would have subpoena and contempt powers, and may recommend for prosecution those found guilty of cheating in the polls.