Arroyo opens up about 'Hello Garci:' I won elections fair and square

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 03 2022 05:06 PM | Updated as of Feb 03 2022 05:32 PM

MANILA - Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for the first time in years opened up about her controversial political career and intriguing private life, in her recently published memoir, “Deus Ex Machina.”

In the book, she also categorically denied cheating in 2004 polls, detailing her side of the story in the "Hello Garci" scandal. 

The legitimacy of her victory had been under question since so-called "Hello Garci" audio recordings surfaced in 2005.

Those recordings supposedly prove that a woman who sounded like her supposedly called an election officer, former Commission on Elections Commissioner Virgilio Garcilliano to influence the results of the election.

In the book, Arroyo devoted about 20 pages to address this, and admitted making the controversial phone call to Garcilliano.

“I heard that privately Commissioner Garcilliano told people, I didn’t call her, she called me. He is correct to pass the blame to me," Arroyo wrote in page 145.

"People who know my management style know I am constantly on the phone keeping track of developments, a type of micromanagement that in my career as government executive I found to produce action and results quickly. Perhaps this is one time I was too hasty to act without deeper reflection,” she added.

“Where do I stand on the question of I am sorry now some 15 years later? In the long run it is better to own up to one’s self inflicted error. It was a lapse in judgment. Which is a genteel way of acknowledging the phone call was a mistake,“ Arroyo said in page 147.

However, Arroyo categorically said, she did not cheat to win.

“That should be clear to any unbiased person looking at two straightforward facts: First by the time of the phone call, all the votes had already been counted and the count accepted by the Comelec," she explained in page 144. 

"Second, the certificates of canvass showing that I had won by a million votes were already used to proclaim the winning senators," she added.

“The phone conversation took place on May 24, the day the top 11 senators were already proclaimed. The votes for the twelfth and thirteenth senators were still being canvassed, but the number of votes at stake would not have wiped out my lead," the former president said in page 145. 

In Page 154, she recalled that closer to the election, after a hard-fought campaign, she was already leading the surveys. 

“In March 2004, 2 months before the elections, SWS found 55 percent satisfied with my performance. Because the voting public knew that I was not just a strong but also a competent and hard working president," she said. 

"I was confident that if i worked the hardest among all the candidates, on the campaign trail, then I could beat any candidate who did not match those qualifications. And I did.”

“I will explain how I did it and any objective analyst will, when presented with the cold facts, realize that I won the elections fair and square," she said. 

Recalling that Poe was her “strongest opponent,” Arroyo devoted several paragraphs which credited her victory to the following factors: 

  • Her selection of then senator and former broadcaster Noli de Castro as her runningmate which split the “masa” votes of Poe
  • The departure of former Senator Raul Roco from the presidential campaign to pursue medical treatment
  • Rising public support for her closer to the election
  • The endorsement of religious groups
  • Alliances' political machinery

Senate had probed the scandal but Comelec officials and others involved in the controversy could no longer be held accountable because the five-year prescription period for the filing of cases already lapsed in 2014.