Grace Poe

Grace Poe laments lessons not learned 20 years after ‘Hello Garci’ scandal

Bonz Magsambol

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Grace Poe laments lessons not learned 20 years after ‘Hello Garci’ scandal

'HELLO GARCI' SCANDAL. In her privilege speech on Wednesday, May 8, Senator Grace Poe reminds everyone of a scandal in connection to a presidential election loss of her late father Fernando Poe Jr.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

Senator Grace Poe says she will file a bill which will prohibit buying and selling of votes through electronic means, like Gcash and Maya

MANILA, Philippines – Twenty years after the biggest election scandal in Philippine history was uncovered, Senator Grace Poe waxed sentimental on Wednesday, May 8, while recalling the infamous “Hello Garci” episode which allegedly cheated her late father, Fernando Poe Jr., of the presidency in 2004.

In an emotional privilege speech, Poe said that apart from moving on from what happened in the 2004 elections, there was still a great need to “apply remedies that will prevent it from happening again, of lessons so powerful that it deters repetition, by sanctions that await those who try to commit it once more.”

“A good two decades have passed since the ‘Hello Garci’ was pulled off, and I am recalling it today, not as a daughter of the decent man who was robbed of votes, but as a senator of the Republic who believes it is her duty not to let this blot in our history fade from the nation’s memory,” she said.

Grace Poe laments lessons not learned 20 years after ‘Hello Garci’ scandal

Poe’s speech was about the 2004 wiretap scandal where disgraced poll commissioner Virgilio Garcillano could be overheard taking orders from a woman who sounded like then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Their conversation was about the canvassing of the 2004 election results.

The senator said that while the election process in the country has improved from manual to automatic counting, a lot more was needed to be done in the electoral landscape. She cited the need to redefine what are covered by electoral offenses like “premature campaigning”, “vote-buying”, and “vote-selling.”

“Campaigning should effectively start as soon as candidacy is filed, and vote-buying should include all possible modes like the buying of votes through e-wallets which we saw in 2022,” Poe said.

Poe said that she will file a bill which will prohibit buying and selling of votes through electronic means, like Gcash and Maya.

“So much must be done in so little time. We are fast approaching the midterm national elections next year and yet the landscape has not changed much since the electoral crisis two decades ago,” she said.

The senator lamented that the main actors in the election scandal have gone unpunished.

“The guilty remains in power, taking refuge in our collective amnesia to delete our memory on the wrongs they have committed… Pagala gala lang si Garci. Parang walang nangyari,” Poe said.

Meanwhile, Arroyo is incumbent Pampanga second district representative. Arroyo was the second longest serving president of the Philippines after ousted Ferdinand E. Marcos. Before assuming the presidency, she served as the 10th Vice President of the Philippines from 1998 to 2001 under president Joseph Ejercito Estrada, making her the country’s first female vice president, despite having run on an opposing ticket. 

“History is neither political nor personal. Hindi namemersonal ang kasaysayan. Inihahayag lang nito ang katotohanan. Paalala ito sa atin na dapat mamili kung anong legasiyang nais nating iwanan sa ating mga anak,” Poe said.

(History does not take it personally. It only states the fact. It’s also a reminder that we need to choose what legacy we want to leave to our children.)

Poe is serving her last term as senator. Her term ends in 2028. She topped a list of possible contenders for the vice presidential race in 2028 with 35% voter preference, according to the latest Pulse Asia survey. Trailing her are Senator Imee Marcos (16%), former senator Manny Pacquiao (14%), and Senator Robin Padilla (14%), Senate President Migz Zubiri (7%), Defense Secretary Gibo Teodoro (4%), and House Speaker Martin Romualdez (1%).–

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.