Military officer: GMA was woman in Garci tapes


MANILA, Philippine - A military intelligence officer implicated in the "Hello, Garci" recordings appeared for the first time at the Senate and testified that former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was the woman talking with former poll commissioner Virgilio Garcillano in the wiretapped conversations.

Lt. Col. Pedro Sumayo, former commander of the controversial Military Intelligence Group-21 (MIG-21), said that he was able to listen to the raw copy of the wiretapped recordings of Garcillano's conversation with then President Arroyo after the 2004 presidential elections.

"I listened to it for a while. I heard a voice that was familiar to me. Based on what I heard, the voice in the tape sounds like that of the former president, PGMA (President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo)," Sumayo said during the joint hearing of the Senate's blue ribbon and electoral reforms and people's participation committees.

Asked by a senator if he was certain that it was Mrs. Arroyo that he heard on the wiretapped conversation, he replied: "I believe so sir."

Sumayo said during the hearing that it was former T/Sgt. Vidal Doble who handed him the tapes. He said he was able to listen to some parts of one tape.

"When I heard it I immediately reported that incident to my immediate boss, which is our OIC, Allen Capuyan," he said. He added that Capuyan, ranked lieutenant colonel, then ordered him to destroy the tapes.

Sumayo explained that he wanted to immediately let Capuyan know about the wiretapped conversation because of some irregularities. He said Doble's group was not capable of wiretapping mobile phone conversations and that the operations was not cleared from his level.

Doble had said in previous hearings that the wiretapping operations were codenamed Operation Lighthouse. Capuyan admitted that the Operation Lighthouse was his idea, but its implementation was different from the operation of Doble's group.

He said that he proposed Operation Lighthouse to improve the capability of MIG-21, but it was disapproved by Capuyan due to lack of funds.

Capuyan was then chief of the operations and intelligence division of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, then headed by Admiral Tirso Danga.

Sumayo said that he in turn summoned Doble with the tapes and the full transcription of the the wiretapped conversations of Garcillano. He said he burned the tapes and the transcriptions.

Sumayo said during the hearing that he had an inkling then that Capuyan was the one who ordered the wiretapping of Garcillano's mobile phone conversations.

Sen. Francis Escudero, who was still a congressman when the House of Representatives extensively probe the recordings, said that they were informed then that the ISAFP monitored Garcillano's phone conversations due to suspicions on his loyalty to Mrs. Arroyo.

There were claims that Mrs. Arroyo constantly talked with Garcillano over the phone to check on their alleged vote-rigging operations to make sure that she will win against the more popular presidential candidate, the late actor Fernando Poe Jr.

At the height of the "Hello, Garci" controversy, Mrs. Arroyo came out with a nationally televised "I'm sorry," Garcillano, for his part, has maintained that he was not the person talking with the woman in the wiretapped conversations.

P900K from 'Big Brother'

Sumayo, during the hearing, revealed that he had recently received P900,000 from "Big Brother," which according to him, is the known alias of Capuyan in the military.

He said that as he is currently in floating status, he asked his contacts in the military for someone who could help him appointed to an active position.

Sumayo was relieved as executive director of the Armed Forces deputy chief of staff for intelligence (J2) in September. He said he was relieved after Newsbreak magazine published a story, reminding that his named was mentioned in the Garci tapes controversy.

While waiting for a new assignment, Sumayo said he received a text message from “BB” (Big Brother), telling him to approach a certain Col. Sosa, who has a package for him.

Sumayo said that instead of a position, Col. Sosa handed him nine bundles of P1,000 bills amounting to a total of P900,000, placed in a plastic bag.

He presented the plastic bag and the cash during the Senate hearing.

Sumayo, however, clarified that the money was handed to him without receiving orders from Capuyan. He said that the money could not have been a bribe or to convince him not to testify in the hearings because he received it even before he was summoned to appear in the Senate hearing.

The Senate blue ribbon committee has taken custody of the cash.

Ruben Reyes

The joint Senate committee, meanwhile, said that it will summon in its next hearing businessman Ruben Reyes.

Escudero proposed to summon Reyes, whom he said, has been mentioned in several controversies involving the Arroyos.

He said Reyes was mentioned in the Garci tapes controversy as well as in the NBN-ZTE deal.

Sumayo said that in 2004, he frequented Reyes’s residence in posh Wack-Wack village in Mandaluyong City.

He said that Capuyan was close to Reyes.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, reading a story by Newsbreak during the hearing, said that Reyes was the “go-to guy for officers who need connection to Malacañang to get promoted.”

Lacson said that Reyes is a wealthy businessman known in the military community as a “patron and power broker” and adopted member of at least two batches in the Philippine Military Academy. - Angelo Gutierrez

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