Tapes come back to haunt Philippine leader

The ghost of an election wiretapping scandal that nearly brought down Philippine President Gloria Arroyo in 2005 is threatening to haunt her again as new hearings loom in the Senate next week.

Tapes come back to haunt Philippine leader
The ghost of an election wiretapping scandal that nearly brought down Philippine President Gloria Arroyo in 2005 is threatening to haunt her again as new hearings loom in the Senate next week.

Lawmakers tried to impeach Arroyo when a tape emerged two years ago of a woman sounding like the president calling an election commission official while votes were still being counted in the 2004 presidential vote.

Ten members of her cabinet resigned when the opposition leaked the tapes to the press, and Arroyo — although she insisted she had done nothing wrong — publicly apologised for a "lapse in judgement."

Now a senator who lost to Arroyo in the 2004 presidential election has called for a new public inquiry after finding what he said was fresh evidence implicating her in corrupting the election result.

Panfilo Lacson played a videotape in the Senate of a former army sergeant, Vidal Doble, who said he had recorded Arroyo asking an election commission official to make sure she won the election by one million votes.

Doble said he had wiretapped a number of officials including Virgilio Garcillano, a senior official on the election commission.

But he later recanted, saying he had been bribed to make the recordings.

Now in the new videotape shown in the Senate this week, Doble said he had been forced to recant because his family had been kidnapped and threatened with harm at the time.

With new hearings into the matter requested, Arroyo's legal adviser Sergio Apostol warned Thursday that Doble could commit perjury if he took the stand.

"This is political. This is not in aid of legislation. This is in aid of presidential ambition," Apostol told Philippine radio, accusing of Lacson of using the controversy to launch another presidential election bid in 2010.

Garcillano was never named as the election official on the tape. But the woman said to be Arroyo was heard greeting him: "Hello Garci."

A new round of hearings is expected to start next week, said Senate president Manuel Villar.

AFP
Last Mod: 23 Ağustos 2007, 10:08
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