Gloriagate – Notes on the PCIJ Transcript

I was going to ahead and break my blog silence on the whole Gloriagate thing, but I realized I should read the whole transcript at PCIJ first, boring as it is. That way, I can at least say I’m basing my opinions on known facts unlike roughly 90% of the rest of the participants in this debacle.

I went through it in about thirty minutes, skimming most and picking out only the parts that seemed most interesting, and skipping anything that was too vague or that I didn’t strictly understand the mechanics of.

The primary question about this transcript is of course, did Gloria conspire with Garcillano to cheat? Regarding this, we can only focus on those conversations which imply the President speaking directly to the man on the other end of the phone. With this in mind, I present the following excerpts:

Conversation between man and a woman on 29 09:43 hotel 2004
GMA: Hello…
Gary: Hello, ma’am, good morning. Ok ma’am, mas mataas ho siya pero mag-compensate po sa
Lanao yan.
GMA: So I will still lead by more than one M., overall?
Gary: More or less, it’s the advantage ma’am. Parang ganun din ang lalabas.
GMA: It cannot be less than one M.?
Gary: Pipilitin ma’am natin yan. Pero as of the other day, 982.
GMA: Kaya nga eh…
Gary: And then if we can get more in Lanao..
GMA: Hindi pa ba tapos?
Gary: Hindi pa ho, meron pa hong darating na seven municipalities.
GMA: Ah ok, ok.

The damning words in this excerpt come from the man named Gary: “Pipilitin ma’am natin yan.” (Liberal translation: We will try to make it happen) It implies that Gary was telling GMA that he would do something to manipulate the results to create a 1 million margin of votes. The observant reader should note that (a) GMA did not ask the man Gary to do anything. However, Gary implied doing something illegal which she should have spoken against; and (b) Any manipulation at this point does not seem aimed at stealing a victory, but rather making the victory appear to be a decisive victory

Conversation between Gary and an unidentified woman believed to be PGMA on 02 22:29 hotel June
04.
Gary: Hello, ma’am. Good evening.
GMA: Hello, dun sa Lanao del Sur at Basilan, di raw nagmamatch ang SOV sa COC.
Gary: Ang sinasabi nya, nawawala na naman ho?
GMA: Hindi na nag-match.
Gary: Hindi na nag-mamatch? May posibilidad na hindi magmatch kung hindi nila sinunod yung individual SOV ng mga munisipyo. Pero aywan ko lang ho kung sa atin pabor o hindi. Dun naman sa Basilan at Lanao Sur, ito ho yung ginawa nilang magpataas sa inyo, maayos naman ang paggawa eh.
GMA: So nag-mamatch?
Gary: Oho, sa Basilan, alam nyo naman ang mga military dun eh, hindi masyadong marunong kasi silang gumawa eh. Katulad ho dun sa Sulu, sa General Habatan. Pero hindi naman ho, kinausap ko na yung Chairman ng Board sa Sulu, ang akin, patataguin ko muna ang EO ng Pagundaran na para hindi sila maka-testigo ho. Na-explain na ho yung sa Camarines Norte. Tomorrow we will present official communication dun po sa Senate. Dun ho sa sinasabing wala hong laman yung ballot box. Na-receive
ho nila lahat eh.
GMA: Oo, oo.
Gary: Tumawag ho kayo kanina ma’am?
GMA: Yeah, about that Lanao del Sur at Basilan.
Gary: Iaano ko na lang ho, nagusap na kami ni Abdullah dun sa kwan kanina. About this, iaano ko ho, wag ho kayong masyadong mabahala. Anyway, we will take care of this. Kakausapin ko rin si Atty.
Macalintal.

Again, the damning words come from the man named Gary: “Dun naman sa Basilan at Lanao Sur, ito ho yung ginawa nilang magpataas sa inyo, maayos naman ang paggawa eh.” (Literal-and-not-too-gramatically-correct translation: In Basilan and Lanao Sur, the increases they did for you, they were done well.)

These two excerpts are the most important because, as far as I can tell, these are the only ones that imply the President’s direct knowledge of cheating done on her behalf. If they avoid, can get rid of, explain away or otherwise cancel out these two excerpts, GMA can easily avoid culpability from the rest of the transcript. For all we know, there could be some wacky explanation that has a small probability of being true. (“One million votes? No, we were talking about one million man-minutes spent counting the ballots!” — Okay, so I’m not very creative right now. Submit your own wacky explanation!)

Is she guilty of electoral fraud? Maybe. This tape at best constitutes what I believe to be called prima facie evidence. As we all should know by now however, wiretapped conversations are not admissible in any court of law in the Philippines. Not even in an impeachment trial, which is not really a court of law.

Some other notes on the tape:

  • There are two other known entities on the tape who can be convicted of electoral fraud. One is of course, the man known as Gary. The other is Robert Barbers. These are the most important people that need to come out and speak their side.
  • The man named Gary is obviously Comelec Commissioner Garcilliano, as he is explicitly named several times.
  • The phone being tapped was obviously Garcilliano’s, as his side is the participant in all conversations.

That’s all on this matter for now. I will raise more of my own opinions in a later post.

Politics – Alleged Destabliziation Tape


Download recordings of alleged destabilization tape – INQ7.net


Transcript at PCIJ blog

I don’t do much politics, but for those out of the loop, the government has recently released some tapes of conversations allegedly edited to make it look like the President has been participating in electoral fraud.

I’m actually more interested in the tech part of this – these are supposedly mobile phone taps, so I guess they should have come from the mobile service provider?

I remember reading in a Hardy Boys volume way back when I was a kid, how each person’s voice signature was unique, such that we would have machines that could verify if a certain person did indeed say a given speech recording. Is this still true today, with the advent of digital audio editing? Would people who edit conversations be able to create fake voices that accurately mimic the voiceprint of other people?

Should there be a way to check if the recordings really have been altered? I don’t know if the mobile service providers routinely keep logs of phone calls…but if they do, it should be easy enough to check the recordings against any originals logged by the phone company. Although I guess it would be optimistic to assume that even if they did keep recordings, they would be able keep all their tapes since June of last year. That would consume an awful lot of space.

I guess that means this is really a wiretap. Of course, it’s hard to imagine how the term applies since mobile phones don’t have wires. I’m not really aware how one “taps” wireless technology. Does it involve some sort of interception of the communications? I would think such communications would be encrypted such that only the authorized recipients would be able to receive and decrypt them. But maybe that’s too much to expect…

Bomb blasts rock RP Cities


Bomb blasts rock Davao, General Santos, Makati – INQ7.net

Makati City, three people were killed while at least 20 others were injured after an explosion rocked a bus plying EDSA as it passed underneath the Metro Rail Transit’s Ayala Station, Metro Manila police chief Director Avelino Razon Jr. said.

What a way to celebrate Valentine’s day. And here I was just blogging about security issues. (Although looks like this incident wasn’t actually in the MRT.)

These are the sort of things they should be focusing on, not optical media piracy.

On a personal note, these things happen at weird times for me. Seems I always need a reminder that my own personal dramas are so irrelevant compared to such real-world issues.

Piracy, the MRT/LRT and Mall Security


Optical media and the MRT/LRT

I’m pretty sure what is described in the above blog post (confiscation of unlabelled optical media from LRT/MRT commuters) is obviously stupid, though probably not illegal. The rail authorities can probably refuse entry to anyone for any reason they consider valid.

It’s probably legal, but I doubt it’s enforceable though. Anyone who’s ridden the MRT during rush hours knows what I’m talking about. Security inspections last roughly half a second for every three passengers; the security personnel will simply make a quick pass through your bags with their stick. Any containers inside the one inspected are let through easily. In fact, even though I ride the MRT nearly everyday [1], I’ve never encountered anyone being turned away because of what they were carrying.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve premeditated how easy it would be to sneak some sort of undesirable element into an MRT station. I ride the MRT every day knowing full well that any half-hearted troublemaker could easily put my life in peril. Riding the MRT is probably only marginally safer than duking it out with the buses on EDSA.

Mall security is even worse, those inspections done by security guards at mall entrances are a waste of time. At least the MRT guys have the excuse that they have to deal with droves of people at a time; There are mall entrances where they barely glance at your stuff in a routine manner; you could be sneaking in a decapitated human head in a plastic bag and they wouldn’t notice. The only criminals that would be stopped by these half-hearted measures are the stupid ones. The smart (hence dangerous) ones would easily breeze through.

Not that I want the hassle of through security checks mind you. It’s just that the current practices seem pretty much a waste of time, when these inspections are just to show the public that MRTs/Malls are “safe.”

Edit 14/Feb:

BoingBoing has picked up on this.

[1] except when I’m lazy and decide to take a cab

Current Events: RP troops to withdraw from Iraq

RP troop pullout not cowardice, at least not according to Malacanang. The whole world knows by now that the Philippine government has capitulated (or intends to, at least) to the demands of terrorists kidnappers holding Filipino truck driver Angelo dela Cruz hostage.

Even Jay Leno took his shots at our country, with the following quote from opening monologue of Wednesday night, July 14, 2004:

For the 2nd time in the past few days, a new world record has been set in the 100 meter dash. It was set by Filipino troops fleeing Iraq.

Even more embarassing, I would think, was the overreaction of local leftist/militant groups, demanding an apology from Leno, accusing him of being a “swashbuckling apologist” for George W. Bush.

Nevermind the fact that Leno, Letterman, O’Brien and other late night talk show hosts continually rail on Dubya and their other ‘respectable’ politicians whenever they find an opportunity to do so; these guys don’t even apologize to George W. Bush, the supposed “most powerful man in the world”; why would they even consider apologizing to a bunch of whiners who don’t even realize the irony of what they’re saying?

And you know what? It is cowardice. It’s spineless and shameful. Our government once again shows how weak it is by turning tail at the first sign of trouble. Whatever ridicule we get from international media, whatever spite we get from our “allies”, I can’t deny we deserve it.

Don’t get me wrong; of course I wish Angelo dela Cruz gets out of this mess safely, I wish him no harm. But it isn’t a simple open-and-shut case of trading our troop positions for the life of one man. By giving in, we surrender our principles, we say to the world: Just abduct a Filipino and you have an entire nation at your command! This is my beef, my gripe, I don’t really care about the politics of the situation, whether RP is being a US lapdog or whatnot; All I know is that it’s suddenly becomes very profitable for terrorists to kidnap Filipinos.

No matter what “War on Terrorism” rhetoric you spout, or whether you are against “US imperialism” or not, it should be obvious that terrorism threatens our way of life. You may think that it’s not a big deal; our troop commitments in Iraq are pratically insignificant anyway, it’s a small price to pay; But what if the next time fanatics decide to abduct a Filipino, they demand more than just a troop pullout? What if they demand that we trade one life for another? What if they demand the complete surrender to the Muslim separatists? Would we give in then? To save the life of one man?

Granted, having to weigh the life of one man against the interests of a nation is a terrible burden to bear, a decision I would not want to take upon myself, so I can understand why the government chooses to capitualte. I can only hope that if, God forbid, I am ever placed in a similar situation where an entire nation would have to throw away principles just to save my life, I would be willing to defiantly announce that I should be sacrificed for the greater good. I’m not judging Angelo dela Cruz; I don’t know much about the man aside from the fact that he’s a truck driver in Iraq and that he’ll likely receive a heroes’ welcome for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This is a terrible blow to us as a nation, as a people. And Angelo dela Cruz, should his life be saved, had damn better well live a good and fruitful life, because we have a paid a high price for it.

Pinoy Culture: Thank God It’s Over

…that disgraceful slow-count of an election canvass that is. I can’t help but wonder whether anyone actually bothered to follow the last few days of the canvassing on TV…I mean, the proceedings are boring as hell! You know what would have been better for the country as a whole? When I saw a small portion of it, the only thing I could think of was that we should have WWE’s The Rock on the National Board of Canvassers! I know he’s no Filipino, much less a Senator, but he can be like guest chairman for a day or something. I can see it now…


Rep. Digs Dilangalen: Mr. Chairman, I object to this “Shut up!” note. I demand that the one who sent this note be cited for contempt! This is an outrage!The Rock: I see. Can you show me this note jabroni?

Digs (fuming, pulls out a piece of paper, approaches the Rock): Here it is Mr. Chair—

The Rock (holds up his hand): Stop right there, jabroni, no need to get close to the Rock.

(Digs stops in his track, obviously peeved.)

The Rock: Tell you what, Mr. “Digs”…this is what we’re gonna do. Why don’t you take that there note, roll it up real nice, turn that thing sideways…and stick it up your candy ass!

(Senate explodes into chaos)


Or maybe even…


Sen. Tessie Aquino-Oreta: Mr. Chairman, all I’m asking for is a little civility, a little respect. We’re rushing through everything and the majority is hardly listening to our opinions…

The Rock: Oh really? Is that what you think, Senator? Is that what you think?

Sen. Oreta: Yes, because we—

The Rock: It doesn’t matter what you think!

(All hell breaks loose. Tito Sotto jumps out of the audience and goes for the clothesline; The Rock ducks, then turns around and catches Tito Sotto in a spinebuster. All hell breaks loose. The Rock takes off the Elbow Pad and tosses it into the crowd. Bounces off the first rope, and the second, and hits the People’s Elbow on Senator Sotto!)


…or maybe I just watch too much wrestling. Heaven knows it’s a lot more entertaining than Philippine politics.

Reminds me of something a friend and I talked about the other day. Since we’re obviously not doing so well with elections, we should have a new way of choosing our leaders: trial-by-combat! A DBZ-style fighting tournament (probably at the Araneta Coliseum) to determine who will be the next leader! Hey, at least it would be more entertaining, and FPJ would probably have a much better chance, unless he faces someone like Sonny Parsons

Halalan 2004

I’ll probably leave for the voting place in a half an hour or so. Anyway, my choices are already made:

PRESIDENT : Roco, Raul

VICE-PRESIDENT :

SENATORS :

1. Alvarez, Heherson T.

2. Barbers, Robert

3. Biazon, Rodolfo

4. Chavez, Francisco

5. Escudero, Salvador

6. Gordon, Richard

7. Herrera, Ernesto F.

8. Hussin, Parouk

9. Mercado, Orlando

10. Pimentel, Aquilino Jr. Q.

11. Roxas, Manuel ‘Mar’ II

12. Yasay, Perfecto Jr.

PARTY LIST : AKBAYAN!

CONGRESSMAN/REPRESENTATIVE : MAITE DEFENSOR

MAYOR : SONNY BELMONTE

VICE-MAYOR : HERBERT BAUTISTA

MEMBERS SANGUNIANG BAYAN

MUNICIPAL COUNCIL:

1. JORGE BANAL

2. JAIME BORRES

3. DANTE DE GUZMAN

4. WENCY LAGUMBAY

5. TINA MONASTERIO

6. LALA SOTTO

A few notes, I suppose.

First, the internet is surprisingly useful to voters this time around. If you need to know where you’re voting,

findprecinct.com

is the place to start. Need help deciding? I used the

sample ballot at the Eleksyon 2004 website

to help me fill up those slots.

Regarding my choices, the Concilors are all allied with Lakas-CMD, hence they are part of Sonny Belmonte’s ticket, who really deserves not only another term but a term with people he’s chosen to ally himself with. For president, I chose Roco, ‘coz hell, if by some miracle he wins I don’t wanna miss my chance to gloat that I voted for the candidate who was right in every possible way. For the party-list rep, last time around I voted for Bayan Muna, but I don’t really like how they’re soft on the NPA, whether or not the military allegations are true. Akbayan, while still left-leaning (to balance the center-to-right preferences of most mainstream politicians), at least recognizes that the NPA Permit-to-Campaign fees are downright extortion and should be criminalized. For the Senators, the only unusual choice is Doc Hussin (more Muslim representation), but the rest should be obvious. I actually had only 11 senators listed before deciding on Hussin.

So what will happen to the country now? Who knows, for a while I was thinking of voting for FPJ just to see what kind of new crap our country can go through…