Q and A with Virgilio Garcillano (3): “Was there anybody who asked me to cheat for them?”

“Perhaps you’ve not seen me in person. Perhaps you’re wondering why I’mrunning for Congress. I just want to finish what they started,” Garcillano told the crowd in Cebuano.

He then proceeded to explain there was “no Hello Garci,” claiming the President called him “Hello Comm or Hello Commissioner.”

“Ilang gibuhat gisumpay-sumpay nga conversations nga kami nagsabot” (what they did was to splice conversations to make it appear we talked), he said.

There were many senators, congressmen and other political leaders who called him during the 2004 elections, he added, and apparently referring to Loren Legarda, Garcillano said, “dunay usa ka senador nga nidagan ug vice president, kapila nagtawag.  Dili lang ka napulo. (There was this senator who ran for vice president, who called several times. Not only ten times.). The caller, he said, told him, “Ikaw lang ang aking pag-asa. Please tulungan mo ako (You are my only hope. Please help me). Legarda had denied calling Garcillano.

If elected, Garcillano told MindaNews, he would make “Hello Garci” his first privilege speech.

And his first legislation? “Electoral reforms,” among them a return to the two-party system and ensuring incumbents do not have undue advantage over their opponents as he wants to ban the use by incumbents, of government-owned vehicles and other facilities during the campaign.

In this third part, Garcillano talks about rallies, donations, how much he has spent, etc.

Q. How long do you stay in a rally?
A. Depende sa lugar. Kung marami kasing tao, mas marami kang masasabi. (Depends on the place. If there are more people, you get to say more). But I always start with itong atake nilang (their attack on) Hello Garci because that’s the only way you can attract their attention.

Q.  So you start with “Hello Garci?”
A.  No. The controversy that came out which includes ‘Hello Garci’

Q.  Earlier you said you adopted candidates. So when you go to rallies, you say to your constituents to vote for them also?
A. Not only that. (They’re) also (included in my) sample ballots…

Q. Do you also have senators in your sample ballots?
A. Yes.

Q. Is it a mix?
A. I do not know yet. I have my choices. That’s why I do not like to have my own party because they might compel us to publicize the whole slate. I still don’t have sample ballots. I may have that tomorrow or next day.

Q. You’re going to have 12 senators and it’s going to be a mix?
A.. I’m not sure about it. I did not prepare that myself. May mga kasama ako dito (I have companions here).

Q. But then again people will think these are your choices.
A. Well, that’s the assumption because I’m the lead candidate in the slate.

Q. Why did you say you do not consider Candido Pancrudo and Malou Acosta as your opponents in the first district.
A. Because if they are at all strong, it is not they who are exerting efforts but the people who are supporting them. That’s why I’m not saying that I’m sure winner because it’s the support of (Governor Jose Ma.) Zubiri that counts as far as Pancru is concerned and the support of Neric (Rep. Nereus Acosta who is running for governor against Zubiri) as far as his sister is concerned.

Q. But definitely you are not running scared?
A. Why will I be scared? You know, this is a win-win situation for me. If I win, well and good. And probably I can show to them that I had not been doing any cheating or rigging of the elections. And if I lose, that means I am not a good cheater, I am not a cheater at all. Because that is always the accusation of these people.

Q. Is the Comelec chief in the province a friend of yours?
A. Well of course because he was under me before. But that does not make him my tool because there are still two other people who are going to sit there like the fiscal and the superintendent of schools and these people are not that dumb to be used only for the successful election of somebody else.

Q. If  you’re saying ‘Hello Garci’ was not real
A. It is not. Because some people from here who would like me to be put down.

Q. From Mindanao?
A: From Mindanao….. And then this opposition would like me to talk? Talk in their favor?

Q: How much have you spent for the campaign?
A: Not much. Within (the limits). Very low.

Q: Because we noticed you have huge tarpaulins along the road.
A: That’s not mine. That’s not mine. I never spent a single centavo there.

Q: Donation?
A: Donation.

Q. But those sizes are allowed only for rallies and headquarters, right?
A: This is my headquarters.

Q: But there are many of these along the road.
A: That’s my headquarters there

Q. The  highway, too.
A: Because I can have as many headquarters as I want (laughs). I never spent a single centavo.

Q: You have very rich friends! What’s this, payb… Then of course they will say this is payback time?
A: Don’t mention this (names contributor from Luzon). He became a friend. All of a sudden when he heard about my running, he followed me in Olongapo. They took the picture (for the tarpaulins). I have plenty of friends. Before December, someone gave 10,000 calendars. I never spent a single centavo. Nakagastos lang ako ng (I only spent for) Modtrade shirts.

Q:  But they’re rather expensive
Because I wanted to give them to executives. I wasn’t able to have the shirts printed though.

Q: Three commissioners have been assigned to Mindanao purportedly to “prevent another Garci from happening.” What’s your take on that?
A: I do not know what they are talking about. It’s difficult, it’s not good for me to compare myself with them. Hindi maganda (That’s not nice). Because before when I was there, I’d go to office at 7:30. I do my thing until we start session. I do not know them. I’ve not seen them in Comelec.

Q: If as you said “Hello Garci” is not real, why were you singled out for that?
I do not know.  In the first place, I was in charge of operations in the entire country as commissioner. When there were troubles outside Metro Manila, even within Metro Manila, people affected would call me up and ask me for solutions to problems whether it involved personal or but you can ask them: was there anybody who asked me to cheat for them?