Garci cries dirty politics

Garcillano said he knows dirty politics is being played during election but didn’t realize how bad it was while still a regional director or as commissioner. He told MindaNews late Monday that he realized this while already a candidate.

“It is saddening to note because I discovered so many things about the electoral process… Although, well, there were already news (reports) about these before but we could not prove it..,” he said.

“Our country will not progress with this kind of politics. It’s very dirty,” he added.

Garcillano’s complaint about dirty politics is shared by his opponents in Bukidnon’s first congressional district: Maria Lourdes Acosta, sister of three-term Representative and now gubernatorial candidate Nereus Acosta; and Candido Pancrudo, who is being backed by incumbent governor Jose Ma. Zubiri.

Already, movie actress Susan Roces, widow of  2004 presidential bet Fernando Poe, Jr., has issued a statement on video, endorsing Acosta to ensure Garcillano does not win.

“Umabot sa akin ang nakakadismayang balita na muling umi-eksena ang kahiya-hiyang ‘Hello Garci.’ Huwag po sana nating pahintulutan ito. Ang boto kay Garci ay isang boto ng pakikisangkot sa marumi at mababang uri ng pulitika dito sa inyong distrito. Ang boto po kay Garcillano ay magdudulot ng kalungkutan hindi lamang sa alaala ni FPJ at sa aming mga naiwan niya, kundi sa lahat ng ating mga mamayan na nagmamahal sa katotohanan at katarungan" (News has reached me that the shameful ‘Hello Garci’ is back in the scene. Let us not allow this, please. A vote for Garci is a vote for dirty and low-level politics in your district. A vote for Garcillano will bring grief  not only in memory of FPJ [Fernando Poe, Jr.] and those he left behind, but also to all citizens who love truth and justice), Roces says on video.

“Garcillano has been waging a campaign based on his relationship with Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.  It is alleged that he has promised the people of Bukidnon great progress due to his influence over her and other administration officials because of his ’service’ to them in the past. It is public knowledge in Bukidnon that Garci claims GMA ‘owes him a lot,’” the Acosta camp’s press release on May 7 said.

Garcillano is running as an independent candidate. 

Garcillano was accused of rigging the 2004 Presidential election for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, based on alleged wire-tapped telephone conversations between President Arroyo and himself in what is now referred to as the “Hello Garci” tapes  exposed in June 2005.

No case has been filed against him in relation to electoral fraud except for falsification of public documents and perjury for allegedly falsifying his passport. But the Department of Justice has cleared him of these charges.

Senator Pimentel had earlier said Garcillano “was cleared by the DOJ of charges of perjury and falsification of public documents in connection with his testimony on the 2004 ‘Hello Garci’ controversy, obviously in accordance with a Palace-prepared script in preparation for his congressional candidacy."

He said the Arroyo administration is afraid Garcillano may spill the beans on what he knew about the alleged dagdag-bawas (vote padding and shaving) operations in favor of  Ms Arroyo in 2004. He said the Arroyo administration has no choice but to support Garcillano because "he already knows too much".

Garcillano says he is running on his own accord, to “clear my name.”

“They have been alluding to me so many things which are not proven at all, yet they continually or repeatedly connect my name to any anomaly,” he said, adding, “when you become a congressman, at least I will be sitting there, shoulder to shoulder with those people who were trying to destroy me or who were trying to accuse me.”

He vowed to change the political scenario in the country if elected, promising to give priority to electoral reform bills.

“The incumbent always has undue advantage against his opponents. They use government vehicles, money and resources. That should be stopped,” he cited an example.

Another electoral reform he wants introduced is to return to the two-party political system.

He said his 37 years of experience with the Commission on Elections will help him craft sound electoral reform bills in Congress.

Garcillano started as a lowly employee who rose through the ranks in the Comelec, earning a reputation against politicians for his no-nonsense approach during elections.

His stint at the Comelec was interrupted only when Edsa 1 happened in February 2006 and President Aquino imposed a revolutionary government following the fall of the dictator, Ferdinand Marcos.

Six years later, Garcillano was again heading the Comelec regional office in Northern Mindanao.

His first brush with controversy came when Senator Aquilino Pimentel accused him of rigging the local elections in 1988. Although nothing came out of the accusations, this made Pimentel and Garcillano bitter enemies.

Stuck with commissioners who did not know the political situation in Mindanao, the Comelec turned to Garcillano for his expertise and advice on dealing with unruly politicians.

He and Commissioner Resurreccion Borra, then the Comelec regional director in Davao, drafted a proposed bill to implement the ban on political dynasties. Former Election chief Christian Monsod presented the draft but met stiff resistance in Congress.

Garcillano continued working as the “Mindanao expert” for the Comelec and supervised the holding of elections in Sulu and the other areas in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Journalists who covered these elections are witnesses to how Garcillano would not hesitate to call on the military to defuse a brewing political violence.

In the mid-1990s, Garcillano sent Army scout rangers and tanks to storm the municipal buildings in Tagoloan, Jasaan and Claveria, Misamis Oriental where supporters of Cagayan de oro City Mayor Vicente Emano were holed-up to prevent the Comelec from retrieving the ballot boxes contested by now mayor of Gingoog City Ruthie Guingona, wife of Vice President Teofisto Guingona, who was then Emano’s rival in the gubernatorial race.

He retired in 2002 and for a while, enjoyed the life of a retiree, sipping coffee at SM Megamall in Cagayan de Oro between visits to his farm here.

Garcillano was appointed commissioner in February 2004. That’s when his troubles began. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)