ALMOST three years after Filipinos first became aware of the “Hello, Garci” tapes, the infamous wiretapped recordings seem to have a way of easing their way back into the realm of public discourse.

The audio files, after all, involve genuine conversations — as confirmed by a former military agent who was himself involved in the bugging operations — between then elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano and a cast of characters of more than two dozen individuals, including Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (who spoke to Garci 15 times), mostly depicting post-election manipulation of the results of the May 2004 polls.

But though some of the main characters, for obvious reasons, manage to constantly land in the news, of late, even the lesser known ones have had their share of the media spotlight — though depicted in not very favorable terms.

Last Monday, Wynne Asdala, the acting director of the Commission on Election‘s legal department, made the headlines after being felled by a single gunshot from a motorcycle-riding assassin as he left a restaurant in Intramuros, Manila.

Asdala, who was assigned as provincial election supervisor of Maguindanao during the 2004 polls, was heard speaking to Garcillano at least thrice in the recordings: once on June 6, 2004 and twice two days later. Their conversations revolved around the alleged request of former Senator Robert Barbers (now deceased) to raise his votes in Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat. (see transcript below)

When the PCIJ sought him then for his side, Asdala confirmed that he did talk to Garcillano but denied ever discussing any attempt to pad Barbers’s votes. He said the commissioner only asked him who was leading the count in Talitay.

Asdala also denied knowing Sultan Kudarat Gov. Pax Mangudadatu, who, together with his son, Rep. Suharto ‘Teng’ Mangudadatu, was mentioned in the tape as supposedly asking him to help Barbers in Talitay.

The slain Comelec lawyer was also referred to in calls to Garcillano made by several anonymous persons, one believed to be Teng Mangudadatu, on June 14, June 16, and June 20.

Asdala’s predecessor at the Comelec legal department, Alioden Dalidig, was also gunned down in November last year near a casino at the Hyatt Hotel in Ermita, Manila. Unlike Asdala, Dalaig was only referred to in the “Hello, Garci” tapes in at least one phone call to Garcillano on June 16, 2004. (see transcript below)

Both Dalaig and Asdala’s murders are now being linked to unresolved electoral protests being handled by their department. Given the dubious distinction of being caught in the Garci recordings as part of an apparent network of electoral fraud whose hub then was Garcillano, the suspicions on the two, though unfortunate, cannot be shaken off that easily.

Dalaig would even figure in controversies post-Garci. He issued the legal memorandum which served as basis for the Comelec to authorize its field officers to commence the signature verification process in connection with a “people’s initiative” to amend the 1987 Constitution pushed by pro-Arroyo groups in 2006. The Supreme Court later struck down the initiative as bogus as it was not directly proposed by the people, evidenced by their ignorance of the nature and effect of the proposed changes to the constitution.

Controversy likewise hounded the accreditation of party-list groups in last year’s elections handled by the Comelec legal department. Allegations that it was peddling party-list seats, particularly to pro-Arroyo groups, persisted as the poll body refused to reveal the list of party-list nominees. When the list was eventually made public, not after a rebuke from the Supreme Court, it was confirmed that among the nominees were people identified with the Arroyo administration and who are relatives of government officials, among them retired Major General Jovito Palparan, Raul Lambino (of Sigaw ng Bayan and the failed attempt to amend the 1987 Constitution via a people’s initiative), a brother of then Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr., a brother of poll commissioner Romeo Brawner, and Assistant Secretary Marcelo Fariñas II of the Office of External Affairs (OEA) under the Office of the President.

Yet another controversial “Hello, Garci” character is Ruben Reyes, a wealthy businessman who is a known golfing buddy of Abalos, who resigned from the Comelec amid the scandal-tainted $329-million national broadband network (NBN) project.

Weeks ago, Reyes was tagged by Senate witness Dante Madriaga as a member of the so-called “Greedy Group” that supposedly brokered the project, which has been rocked by allegations of multimillion-dollar kickbacks and overpricing.

The last witness to testify in the Senate hearings, Leo San Miguel, also pointed to Reyes as the “facilitator,” the local contact of the NBN deal for China’s ZTE Corporation. San Miguel himself was tagged by Madriaga as a “Greedy Group” member along with Reyes, Abalos, and retired police general Quirino dela Torre.

In a letter to the Senate, Reyes denied the allegations. Again, despite such proclamation of innocence, it cannot be helped that Reyes allegedly figured in at least two phone calls involving Garcillano. The first call made on June 7, 2004 featured a male voice presumed to be Reyes’s, and who asked Garcillano about a Comelec employee who might be used by the opposition against the administration’s presidential candidate, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. In the same call, Reyes also allegedly asked the former commissioner if he could help party-list groups supported by Arroyo to get more votes in the May 2004 polls. (see transcript below)

Another call the following day had the former poll commissioner mentioning Reyes’s name while talking to a certain Gene regarding the problem posed by the presence of then Brigadier General Francisco Gudani during the canvassing of votes in Lanao. Garcillano apparently asked Reyes, who is reportedly close to police and military generals, particularly those from the 1972 and 1983 classes of Philippine Military Academy (PMA), to handle the situation as First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo did not want to be involved.

Conversation between Gary (V. Garcillano) and Atty. Asdala (believed to be Atty. Wynne Asdala) on 06 12:03 hotel June ’04

Garcillano: Hello.
Atty. Asdala: Good morning Commissioner. Atty. Asdala.
Garcillano: Nasaan ka?
Atty. Asdala: Cotabato. Supposed to be mag-convene kami kahapon (garbled). Pero Commissioner, ito nga ang problema ko, yung sa kay Teng ba. Kay Teng Mangudadatu. May kwan kasi dito, may pahabol si Barbers. Ang ginawa nila, itong Talitay tsaka Columbio, gusto nilang mag-submit ng bagong COC at tsaka SOV para mahabol yung si Barbers.
Garcillano: Wala na.
Atty. Asdala: Sabi ko sa kanila hindi kako problema si Commissioner Garcillano pero nakita ko kay Borra, iba kasi si Borra, walang isip itong kwan nya, baka imbes na kwan baka ipitin pa ako.
Garcillano: Huwag na, anyway, nagtabot na, nag-usap na kami.
Atty. Asdala: Kasi kako, pag walang blessing ng commissioner.
Garcillano: Baka masira ka eh.
Atty. Asdala: Oo.
Garcillano: O wala na?
Atty. Asdala: Sige, Commissioner, ganun na lang, sabihin ko na lang. Thank you, thank you.
Garcillano: Ok, ok.

Conversation between Gary (V. Garcillano) and unidentified male (believed to be Atty. Wynne Asdala) on 08 12:02 hotel June ’04

Garcillano: Hello.
Atty. Asdala: Commissioner? Si Atty. Asdala. ‘Tong grupo ni Pax kwan ba, …sa ‘kin tong papasukin
tong Talitay para lang matulungan raw si Barbers. Eh kako depende sa komisyon kako …. Dapat …
Garcillano: Useless na rin eh, papaano mo gagawin yun?
Atty. Asdala: Parang kinukwan nila ako … anuhin ang desisyon … mahirap parang bomba ito.
Garcillano: Tsaka useless na rin. Ano bang ibig nilang mangyari na hindi naman pwede na.
Atty. Asdala: Yung nga sabi nila mag-file raw ng petition tapos sabi sa akin, para pagkatapos daw the
Commission will issue a resolution for the nullification, annulment of the proclamation….
Garcillano: No, that’s already … pag na-proclaim na, wala na eh.
Atty. Asdala: Yun nga mahirap kako riyan.
Garcillano: Hindi bahala na kayo pero hindi pwede yan, yang ginagawa nila. Useless na yan eh.
Atty. Asdala: Yun nga, tsaka tatago mo bigla ito kasi na-proclaim na pagkatapos na-canvass na itong
Talitay …. (line cut)

Conversation between Gary (V. Garcillano) and unidentified male (believed to be Atty. Wynne Asdala) on 08 15:33 hotel June ’04

Garcillano: Hello.
Atty. Asdala: Comm., tinawagan ako ni Chair dahil napanood yata si Comm. Rex tungkol ba kay Barbers. Di ba may annulment kasi fi-nile si Barbers. Tapos, di binabasa ko kasi ngayon tong petisyon niya, ang sinasabi niya ang canvass votes sa South Upi, Maguindanao, 7,000 votes, sa Talitay, 6,000 votes, sa Columbio, 4,000. Di ba mga tapos na ito?
Garcillano: Hindi yata nakasama.
Atty. Asdala: Ah, patay kang bata ka. Hindi talaga napasama?
Garcillano: Oo.
Atty. Asdala: Eh papano to? Eh di talagang yari tayo rito.
Garcillano: Eh siguro.
Atty. Asdala: Naku po. Patay tayo. Akala ko tapos na to. Di ba South Upi ito yung may double proclamation? Pati yung Talitay?
Garcillano: Sa Talitay meron pa.
Atty. Asdala: 6,000 daw eh, ayan o, nakalagay sa ano nya eh. Sabihin ko na lang kay bossing na talagang hindi nakasama?
Garcillano: Uh-hm.
Atty. Asdala: Sige boss, ok.

Conversation between Gary (V. Garcillano) and unidentified female on 16 16:27 hotel June 2004 (translated from the Visayan original)

Woman: Hello, ‘To. Wala kang chance makausap si Tuason?
Garcillano: Tuason? Bakit, kung kakausapin ko?
Woman: Regarding sa disqualification, kasi sabi ni Atty. George, nakausap naman daw nya ang Legal.
Kaso lang naghihintay ng order ang legal ni Tuason na mag-go-signal ang boss. Kung may go-signal
ang boss…gumawa na sila…in favor for us.
Garcillano: Malaking kwento yan. Sila kasi. I don’t think they have that kind of…Magtawag na lang si
Atty. Dalaig.
Woman: Iyong taong pinag-uusapan, walang ibang pinaniniwalaan ang ginoo, Tito.
Garcillano: Hindi sila lumapit.
… (line cut)
Woman: Lumapit naman sila pero…(garbled)…Di maniniwala dyan ang ibang commissioners.
Garcillano: Hindi talaga sila nag-attempt. Wala silang ginawang move kahit konti.
Woman: Bakit naman?
Garcillano: Bakit ngayon lang sila nagsabi (garbled)
Woman: Wala silang nag-attempt.
Garcillano: Paano kung lapitan ngayon si Dalaig, may magagawa ba?
Woman: Baka. Kung ang investigation nga lumabas na favorable, makakatulong sa disqualification.
Garcillano: Ay sus, naman. Di sila lumapit, not even a formal, urgent request, wala. For an opinion or
recommendation en banc.

Conversation between Gary (V. Garcillano) and a certain Ruben on 07 20:38 June ’04

Garcillano: Hello.
Ruben: Yeah, Garci, si Ruben. Anong balita?
Garcillano: Eto, nag-aano ako kasi. ‘Yung sa Tipo-tipo na tao, parang nasa kamay na nila.
Ruben: Oo nga eh.
Garcillano: Pero wala namang damage magagawa … (garbled) … pero kay Wahab. Kaya dapat si Wahab ang gumalaw niyan.
Ruben: Pero, magte-testify sya against the administration eh. Against the President.
Garcillano: How can she? Wala naman siyang ginawa kay Presidente.
Ruben: Eh hindi, di ba ang gagamiting magte-testify siguro ‘yun against the President regarding the bawas-dagdag na ginawa dun sa ano.
Garcillano: Wala naman siyang ginawa para kay Presidente dun sa kanya ah.
Ruben: Hindi, ‘yun ang pinepresenta di ba? Yan ‘yung pinepresenta ni Rufus Rodriguez pati yung kay
Garcillano: Oo nga, pero wala naman. Kay Ebron, di niya makukuha si Ebron, wala na, di niya makukuha.
Ruben: Si Ebron nga, hindi na nga dahil as of two days ago, nakausap na nga raw eh.
Garcillano: Sinong nakausap?
Ruben: Si Ebron, nakausap na ng military.
Garcillano: Sabihin mo dyan sa military na ‘yan, wag silang masyadong kwan makikialam, kasi sinampal pala si Ebron eh, aking tao yan eh, taga Batangas yan eh.
Ruben: Ah ganun ba?
Garcillano: Oo, huwag namang ganun. Bago nila ginawa yun nung primero, sinampal pa siya eh, kaya
mangiyak-ngiyak yung tao eh. Pero kahit pakainin mo ng bala yun, di na magpapakita. Ngayon, itong si Rashma Hali, wala naman masasabi against kay ma’am eh, kahit anong gawin nila because she has not done anything except kay Wahab Akbar. Kaya dapat si Wahab ang mawarningan.
Ruben: Pero, ano ba pare yung pinakikitang ano ni Rufus na ano?
Garcillano: Ah, pabayaan mo siya but it does not have anything to do with the President.
Ruben: Ibig mong sabihin yung pinakikitang dinagdagan daw yung boto ni Presidente eh….
Garcillano: Hindi naman nila matetestiguhan kung hindi sa kanyang munisipyo.
Ruben: Yung Tipo-tipo di ba?
Garcillano: Oo nga, pero ang problema niyan, wala naman kay Presidente dyan.
Ruben: Hindi ba yun ang pinepresenta ni Rufus na dinagdagan?
Garcillano: Yung pinakikita ni Rufus, tingnan natin sa provincial canvass, kasi wala naman nagagawa
yan dun sa kanyang munisipyo. Bahala siya, kaya nga ina-ano ko si Wahab, pina-aano ko kay Wahab
ngayon, dapat si Presidente ma-kwan niya kay Wahab para si Wahab ang kumuha ng taong yan kung
hindi, ipakukuha ko ang pamilya niyan.
Ruben: Uh-hum.
Garcillano: Yun na lang last resort ko, pakukuha ko ang pamilya nyan.
Ruben: Kaya nga. Ganun talaga ang dapat gawin dun.
Garcillano: Oo, pero dapat malaman ni Wahab na si Wahab, kasi ang more damage will be against that
Wahab Akbar, not the President.
Ruben: Bakit, maapektuhan ba yung boto ni Wahab?
Garcillano: Siya talaga ang ano, ang malaking ano, naka-pabor.
Ruben: Uh-hm.
Garcillano: Kaya kung maaari papupuntahin ko nga rito yung supervisor, patago ko rin dito sa kin.
Because, I want to clean out kung alin yung mga by municipality results.
Ruben: Hindi ‘yun nga ang nagkakaproblema dahil si Wahab ang nagpatrabaho nyan eh.
Garcillano: Eh ang problema niyang si Wahab, gumalaw si Wahab nung huli na.
Ruben: Huli na nga eh. Akinse na nung gumalaw si Wahab eh.
Garcillano: Alam mo si Wahab was working for FPJ actually.
Ruben: Oo, nung una.
Garcillano: Nung nalaman niyang matatalo si FPJ, saka bumaligtad.
Ruben: Sinabi mo. Totoo talaga.
Garcillano: Yung mga tao namin diyan, eh galit na galit sa kanya eh. Kaya ito, kung anuman, basta
malalaman ko hanggang umaga, ng maagang-maaga kung ano talaga ang score doon so I can tell them to get her family kung halimbawa. Sabagay medyo matindi na ito kasi nandun naman si Lomibao, nandun din si… ewan ko kung sino pang nandun, may isang colonel na nandun. Kung kailangang kunin, di kunin na ang pamilya nya. Lokohan na rin lang eh, di kwan. Pero yang Rufus na yan, wala namang alam yan.
Ruben: Kaya nga, kaya nga.
Garcillano: Ewan ko lang kung pupunta pa uli yun, pakidnap ko siya. Nakakaano eh.
Ruben: Hindi naman pumupunta, pero ang balita ko nandirito sa Parañaque.
Garcillano: Nandito na yung ano…
Ruben: Nandito na nga raw sa Parañaque nun pang Saturday.
Garcillano: O sige. Basta we’ll ask somebody to look for her and then get her family, kung pwede.
Ruben: Oo, oo. Tanong ko lang sa ‘yo pare, papaano ‘yung ano natin, sa party-list?
Garcillano: Hindi ko pa maa-ano kasi hanggang ngayon wala kaming usapan mga tao tungkol diyan.
Tatawagan kita bukas ng tanghali kung anuman.
Ruben: O sige.
Garcillano: Ano yun? Ano yun?
Ruben: Yung TUCP at saka ANAD.
Garcillano: Ay! Wag mo nang dagdagan, mahihirapan tayo niyan.
Ruben: Hindi ba mas maganda kung yung lahat ng magkakatabi na yan eh…
Garcillano: Hindi kasi nag-proclaim na kami. Ang alam ng mga Commissioner and the other people there, mahirap nang kumuha, kung magkuha tayo, yung mga malapit na, yung hindi na mahahalata kasi…
Ruben: Tama. Pero malapit yun ha kesa sa SMILE.
Garcillano: Kaya nga, bahala na pero ang kaso, pag sabay-sabay mo niyan, sinong pagagawin mo niyan eh itong mga bata hindi na pupwedeng gumalaw eh. Titingnan ko bukas kung anuman.
Ruben: Sige, tawagan mo ako ha.
Garcillano: Oo.
Ruben: Ok, ok sige thank you.

Conversation between Gary (V. Garcillano) and Gene on 08 13:25 hotel June ’04

Gene: Boss, nakatanggap ako ng certification ngayon dito galing sa mga bata natin sa Lanao, nag
failure na naman pala dahil kay Gudani.
Garcillano: Oo nga eh.
Gene: Putang-ina, sino ba yang Gudani, bakit ganun yun?
Garcillano: Yun ang pinaalis ko.
Gene: Oo nga, ba’t andudoon na naman, papaano ‘to?
Garcillano: Oo nga, bumalik na naman. Kaya nga ayaw makialam si First Gentleman dyan. Sabi ko nga,
pinasabihan ko nga kay Ruben Reyes na paalisin na nyo yan.
Gene: Putang-ina, tarantado talaga to.
Garcillano: Oo, pinaalis ko yan eh. Pero after three days after elections, bumalik man dyan. And nag
(garbled) dyan si Col. Quirino thru Gen. Esperon at tsaka si Gen. Kyamko.
Gene: Eh ano ba gagawin ko, gagawan ko pa ba ng memo ‘to o ipapareschedule, papaano, gagawa ako
ng memo sa en banc?
Garcillano: Ipa-reschedule natin.
Gene: Gagawa ako ng ano ha.
Garcillano: Oo para sa commission en banc.
Gene: Ano nangyari sa inyo? O sige, nasa meeting ka yata eh. Ok, sige ok.
Garcillano: Mamayang hapon nandiyan ako.
Gene: O yung best friend mo bumabanat na naman, putang-ina talaga itong si Pimentel.
Garcillano: Bakit, bakit?
Gene: Hindi ka ba nanonood ng TV?
Garcillano: Hindi ako nanonood.
Gene: Putang-ina binabakbakan si Betty Pizaña.
Garcillano: Oo nga eh, anak ng jueteng naman, wala namang kakwenta-kwenta yan.
Gene: Sinasabi na nga na clerical error, putang-ina talagang matanda ito.
Garcillano: 116 votes lang. Ibigay mo na sa kanya. (Laughs)
Gene: (Laughs) Ok pare sige, sige.

3 Responses to Lesser known ‘Hello, Garci’ characters as newsmakers



March 31st, 2008 at 9:44 am

Losing Our Perspective Again?

Have we gone to such a very low level of our humanity and lost our capacity of compassion towards others that we can no longer be disturbed by the murders of our fellowmen and would even hint that such slay gangland style, was justified because of their involvement in an election fraud?

Don’t get me wrong but this is how I perceived this post. Two legal officers of Comelec were gunned down in cold blood, and any objective journalist would focus on the identities of the “criminals” and the “motive” behind such dastardly act but it was titled: “Lesser known ‘Hello, Garci’ Characters as Newsmakers”. We put their tragedy aside and instead of describing their deaths as murders, pure and simple, we highlight their being Lesser Characters of the Garci Tapes as Newsmakers and highlight their deaths with re-runs of the Garci tapes.

PCIJ comes close to cheering the murderers instead of sympathizing with the victims. Under our laws, even the most detestable criminals are entitled to “due process of law”.



April 1st, 2008 at 1:38 am

these assasinations will only go straight to national census…though…they deserved to be removed from office but they dont deserved to be killed…for me…any investigations will not prosper nor be credible…kasi tapos na ang bilangan…kaya puro noted na lang…


A revolution is in order « Whatevs!

November 24th, 2009 at 11:30 pm

[…] Grabe. Ang sama, sama, sama, sama, sama ng mga taong gumawa nito.  At ang lalong masama dito, tino-tolerate ang patuloy na paggamit ng guns, goons, and gold sa mga lugar na malayo sa Manila dahil napapakinabangan din ng Malacañang.  Remember Garci? […]

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