There's enough reason for 3 presidential aspirants to deny any dealings with former Commission on Elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano.
With the presidential race as tight as ever, Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senator Grace Poe, and former interior secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II can't afford to be associated with the man who once faced electoral fraud charges.
It was Garcillano whom then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo called to make sure she'd win by more than a million votes against her rival, the late actor Fernando Poe Jr. Their wiretapped conversation came to be known as the “Hello Garci” scandal.
Garcillano was off the political radar for a while, until he was seen at a hotel in Cagayan de Oro City where Binay and Poe were staying for the first presidential debate.
Asked by the Inquirer what he was doing there, Garci said he was working as a “consultant,” but refused to reveal for whom.
In a press conference after the debate, Poe denied she was consulting with Garci.
“Nagtataka nga ako, kasi kung mayroon man siyang iiwasan, siguradong ako ‘yun (I’m wondering because if there was someone Garcillano would avoid, it's surely me),” added Poe, the daughter of the man who lost the 2004 presidential elections to Arroyo.
The younger Poe’s press release about the said media briefing said, “Vice President Jejomar Binay, the opposition’s presidential bet, was also staying at the same hotel as Poe. Garcillano did not say who his client was.”
Fast forward to March 3 and Roxas’ spokesman Barry Gutierrez released a statement implying that Garci might be among Binay’s campaign consultants.
“Kinakabahan na kami sa Dream Team ni VP Binay. May expert na sa nakawan, may expert pa sa dayaan. Kailangan na maging mas alerto tayo na bantayan ang sagradong boto ng mamamayan. Kahit sidekick na niya si Hello Garci, hindi tayo papayag na gawin ni VP Binay sa Pilipinas ang ginawa niyang mga kabalbalan sa Makati,” said Gutierrez.
(We are worried about the Dream Team of VP Binay. There’s an expert on stealing and an expert on cheating. We need to be more alert in safeguarding the peoples’ votes which are sacred. Even if Hello Garci is Binay’s sidekick, we’re not going to allow VP Binay to do in the Philippines what he did in Makati.)
He later clarified with reporters that the Liberal Party has been receiving reports about Binay allegedly consulting with Garci, but that they have no means to verify the information directly with Binay’s team.
The Vice President’s communications director Joey Salgado was quick to reply.
“Wow. First time na ang administrasyon umiiyak na dadayain sila ng oposisyon. Sino ba may control at gumagamit ng government resources etc? #Areyouhigh?” was Salgado’s official statement. (Wow. First time for the administration to cry about the opposition cheating them. Who has control and who is using government resources etc? #Areyouhigh?)
Binay himself slammed the rumors as well.
“Hinding-hindi ko po nakita, hinding-hindi ko po nakausap. Baka po sila, pinatatawag po nila sa Malacañang,” said Binay, who has accused the administration party of vote-buying. (I have never seen or talked to him. Maybe the people in Malacañang are calling him.)
“Mga kasinungalingan talaga ‘yan. Kasi wala na, talo na ‘yang mga ‘yan kaya kung anu-ano nang sinasabi,” Binay added. (Those are all lies. They’re saying all sorts of things because they're losing.) – Mara Cepeda/Rappler.com