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Mike Arroyo, Ebdane deny hand in alleged '04 poll fraud

July 29, 2011 2:50pm

Several personalities, including former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo and Zambales Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. have denied any role in the supposed switching of election returns during the 2004 elections to ensure the victory of then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

"I don't know these people who are spreading lies about me. After more than a year in office, it is still all politics," Mr. Arroyo said in a statement.

Malacanang, meanwhile, said Mr. Arroyo can just present before the court evidence disproving his alleged involvement in the poll returns switching to ensure the victory in the 2004 polls of the former President.

“Whether the evidence adduced will be judged as hearsay will be up to the investigators and eventually doon po sa korte kung magkakaroon po ng pagsasampa ng kaso," deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said at a press briefing.

“Sinasabi naman po nila, yung kampo po nila Rep. Gloria Arroyo, handa naman daw po silang sagutin yung mga alegasyong ito in the proper forum, hihintayin na lang din po natin ang magiging sagot nila kung sakali," Valte added.

For his part, Ebdane admitted being "hurt" by allegations by Senior Superintendent Rafael Santiago, whom Ebdane, a former chief of the National Police, considered as his "son."

Santiago earlier surfaced to claim that Ebdane ordered the switching of original 2004 ERs with fake ones.

The operation, reportedly carried out in January 2005, aimed to ensure Mrs. Arroyo's victory in case a recount of votes is conducted. Arroyo defeated the late action star Fernando Poe Jr by more than one million votes.

"Pangatawanan niya ang ginagawa niya. At kung sakaling balang-araw kailangan niya ng tulong ko, bibigay ko pa rin sa kanya bilang anak," Ebdane said in a report aired on GMA News TV's "Balitanghali" Friday.

"He is like a son to me... I consider him a son, medyo masakit sa akin iyan," he added.

Santiago and his group said they were part of the 15 police Special Action Force (SAF) men that carried out the January 2005 "special operation" to replace ERs stored inside the Batasan Pambansa in Quezon City. [See related: 'Poll fraud' exposé a great birthday gift for Susan Roces, daughter says]

For his part, former Commission on Elections (Comelec) supervisor Roque Bello, whom Santiago accused of preparing the fake ERs, also denied the allegations, saying he never meddled in affairs concerning presidential elections.

"I have nothing to do with presidential elections. Even now, I haven't participated in presidential elections. My records will show that all my clients are congressmen, governors, or town mayors or now barangay chairmen," Bello insisted.

Bogus bomb threat

Superintendnet Ferdinand Ortega, former SAF commander at the Batasan Pambansa building, has already denied that a supposed "bomb threat" was reported inside the Batasan Pambansa, as claimed by Santiago.

Santiago had alleged that a bogus bomb threat was used on the nights the switching happened to ensure that no one was around when their team moved in at the Batasan complex in Quezon City.

"I will just wait kung ano ang summon ng DOJ at doon na lang ako sasagot sa kanila," he said.

Artemio Adaza, Deputy Secretary General for Legislative Operations at the Batasan Pambansa, likewise belied claims that people were able to break in at the building to switch ballots.

"The allegations na nagkaroon ng break-in is highly improbable because physical evidence na nakuha namin during occular inspection would show na walang indication of forced entry," he said.

Adaza said they also tried inspecting the ballot boxes - now covered in dust and cobwebs - stored inside the building and found no "signs of disturbance."

Footage from closed-circuit television camera also did not show people breaching the Batasan Pambansa's security, Adaza claimed.

Former Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, a known Arroyo ally who served as co-chairman of the National Board of Canvassers that tallied the votes in 2004 presidential elections, said he doubted the credibility of Santiago and the other policemen who surfaced.

"Palagay ko ang gagawa lang niyan ay either for publicity or they are being paid or whatever reason, self-motivated iyan," Gonzalez said.

'Courageous admission'

But former House Speaker Jose Devencia Jr. lauded the policemen for coming out and disclosing their knowledge on the supposed poll fraud cover-up.

"This is a full frank and courageous admission of the senior officers of the PNP who were responsible for the security of the House, pero sila pala ang nag-raid sa House," De Venecia said.

De Venecia had a controversial falling out with Mrs. Arroyo after he was ousted as House leader in 2008.

Retired Col. Ariel Querubin, who took part in the Feb. 2006 Marine standoff, said: "Ito ang dahilan kung bakit kami nag-a-alboroto. Isa-isa nang lumalabas ngayon. Maaaring hindi natuloy ang Truth Commission but see how truth is coming out," Querubin said, referring to the body earlier formed by the Aquino administration to investigate alleged irregularities committed under the Arroyo administration.

The Supreme Court has recently ruled with finality that Executive Order No. 1 - which formed the basis for the creation of theTruth Commission - was unconstitutional.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan, who also stood as co-chairman of the NBC, also emphasized the need to ferret out the truth behind allegations of poll fraud.

"Ang pulisya sya ang pinakasangkapan para sa pandarayang ito kaya dapat malaman natin ang kabuuang katotohanan dito," he said.

On Thursday, former PNP chief and incumbent Sen. Panfilo Lacson showed video clips - captured through a cellphone camera - showing alleged ballot switching at the Batasan Pambansa.

Sen. Loren Legarda, who was Poe's defeated running mate, admitted that the same videos were shown to her before, but she declined the clips because she was being asked for a huge sum of money in exchange for videos. — with Amita O. Legaspi/RSJ/ELR, GMA News
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