Businessman close to Arroyos summoned to next hearing
MANILA, Philippines - The joint Senate Blue Ribbon and electoral reforms committees on Tuesday summoned businessman Ruben C. Reyes to its next hearing on the ongoing investigation into alleged fraud in the 2004 presidential election.
Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III ordered Reyes summoned to the inquiry's next hearing after he was identified as one of the personalities who may have knowledge about the "Hello, Garci" wiretapped recordings.
The "Hello, Garci" tapes are a series of wiretapped recordings that detail an alleged plot to rig the 2004 presidential election in favor of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The tapes contain conversations between Mrs. Arroyo and then Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, and other individuals involved in alleged election fraud.
Reyes was also allegedly recorded as having a conversation with Garcillano on June 4, 2004. One conversation had Reyes asking the Comelec commissioner about a poll employee who might be used by the opposition. Another conversation showed him asking for votes for the Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy (ANAD) and the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP).
During Tuesday's hearing, Col. Pedro Sumayo, former chief of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) technical surveillance unit or MIG 21, identified Reyes as "close to the First Family," meaning the Arroyos.
He said Reyes allegedly accompanied his boss, Lt. Col. Allen Capuyan, ISAFP's former operations and intelligence division chief, in going around the country during the 2004 elections.
Sumayo described Reyes as a "power broker and patron of military men who need a connection to Malacañang." He also said Reyes is an adopted member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1972 with lots of acquaintances with PMA Class 1983.
A Newsbreak article, meanwhile, said then-President Arroyo visited Reyes in his Wack Wack subdivision residence after the 2004 elections where they were briefed by ISAFP officers.
Sumayo said he was not present during the ISAFP briefing in Reyes' home but admitted that it was unusual.
Destroying the Garci tapes
During the hearing, Sumayo said he first got wind of the "Hello, Garci" tapes when Air Force TSgt. Vidal Doble showed it to him, saying that it was important.
He said he listened to the tape and then stopped it after hearing a "familiar voice."
"Based on what I heard, the voice on the tape sounds like the former president. I'm sorry, PGMA," he said.
He said he told Capuyan about the recording who told him to destroy it. He then asked for the tapes and transcripts from Doble and then destroyed it inside his office.
Sumayo denied ordering the wiretapping of the conversations of Garcillano or the former president, saying that MIG-21 only targeted terrorists, kidnappers and destabilizers.
He also said that he did not question Capuyan's order but had his suspicions that his boss knew something about the wiretaps.
"My suspicion was proven by his actions but I cannot do anything about it. My suspicion was he knew about all that because he did not confirm to me or ask why did that happen. I was thinking he knows something about it," he said.
"I believe he is the one who ordered it," he added.
Sumayo said he is now on floating status after he was relieved as executive officer of AFP's deputy chief of staff for intelligence (J-2). This was after a Newsbreak article questioned his return to the intelligence community after being linked to the "Hello, Garci" scam.
He said that after his relief, he approached a certain Colonel Sosa if he knew anyone who could help in his predicament.
He then received a text from someone identifying himself as "BB" or Big Brother, saying that he was to receive an item from Sosa. Sumayo said Big Brother is their nickname for Capuyan.
Sosa later gave Sumayo P900,000 in cash, which he said came from Capuyan.
Sumayo said he did not touch the money since it was not the help he was asking for.
"I was relieved from J-2. My expectation was this investigation and then here comes this money. I thought it would be unwise for me to [accept]...," he said.
He denied, however, that the money was meant to silence him, saying that there was no news yet of a Senate investigation on the "Garci" tapes when he received the money last October.