Bureau of Customs

From Hello Garci to ‘Big Brother’: Who is Allen Capuyan?

Jodesz Gavilan

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From Hello Garci to ‘Big Brother’: Who is Allen Capuyan?

LeAnne Jazul

(UPDATED) A 2005 Newsbreak report identifies retired Colonel Allen Capuyan as the 'number one suspect' behind wiretapping operations conducted by an army unit during the Arroyo administration.

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Who is “Big Brother” referred to in the text messages of Customs fixer Mark Taguba and allegedly linked to smuggling and corruption at the Bureau of Customs (BOC)?

According to Taguba, he is retired Colonel Allen Capuyan, the same man who provided him via mail tariff codes that were supposed to give him access to the green lane or express lane, which exempts shipments from X-ray inspection. (READ: TIMELINE: How P6.4-B worth of shabu was smuggled into PH from China) 

The still-elusive Tita Nanie, Taguba said, introduced him to the group led by Capuyan. While on leave from his post as Assistant General Manager for security and emergency services at the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), Capuyan appeared before the Senate on Monday, September 11, in an effort to clear his name.

In March 2018, he resigned from the MIAA. 

A month after, in April, President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Capuyan as his presidential adviser for indigenous peoples’ concerns.

Before joining the MIAA, Capuyan had been working mostly in intelligence. From 1997 to 2000, Capuyan served as the Intelligence Service Unit (ISU) chief in Davao City.

He is also part of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1983.

Hello Garci days 

This is not the first time Capuyan’s name was dragged in a controversy.  

In 2004, he became the chief for operations of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) under the Arroyo administration. According to a Newsbreak report at the time, he was considered the most powerful man in the agency.

A military source cited in a Newsbreak report in 2005 identified him as the “number one suspect” behind the ISAFP’s wiretapping operation that sought to monitor phone conversations of those they believed to be part of the opposition during the Arroyo years.

The surveillance eventually led to the “Hello Garci” controversy which involved wiretapped phone conversations between former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and then Commission on Elections official Virgilio Garcillano about allegedly rigging the results of the 2004 national election. 

The unit monitored Garcillano’s conversations after he was suspected of working with the opposition. 

In 2011, Lieutenant Colonel Pedro Sumayo Jr of the ISAFP’s Military Intelligence Group (MIG) 21 identified Capuyan as the one who ordered the burning of tapes which contained the Garcillano recordings.

Sumayo said he gave the tapes to Capuyan after they were given to him by Sergeant Vidal Doble, his subordinate. He heeded Capuyan’s advice to burn the recordings but Doble made several copies which were eventually released to the public.

The controversy led to massive protests and the resignation of Cabinet officials under the Arroyo administration.

Arroyo eventually admitted on national television that she was the woman in the recording but denied she ordered rigging the election results.

Only ‘intelligence’

In his opening statement before the Senate on Monday, September 11, Capuyan denied ties with any group involved in smuggling or engaging in personal transactions with Customs. 

Capuyan explained that Jojo Bacud, an acquaintance and a supposed PMAer, introduced Tita Nanie and a certain “Noel” as business partners in March 2017, adding that he personally met the two, together with Taguba, over lunch in April.

Bacud, according to Taguba, was the first person whose help he sought for his other shipments. Bacud was also the one who introduced Taguba to the Davao Group.  

Capuyan, however, insisted that his links with Bacud were part of efforts to improve his “intelligence work” at the MIAA.

In June 2017, he said he even asked Bacud to come up with an intelligence report regarding the entry of illegal drugs “in the thought that same pattern may occur in our airports.” 

The report was then transmitted to the Department of Finance and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in July, Capuyan added. – Rappler.com

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Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and impunity beats, producing in-depth and investigative reports particularly on the quest for justice of victims of former president Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs and war on dissent.