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Doble: ‘Hello Garci’ wiretap ops done through Smart mole

August 22, 2007 11:02am
(Updated 1:06 a.m.) An insider at Smart Communications, the nation's largest cellular service provider, had worked with the Intelligence Service of the AFP (Isafp) in wiretapping political leaders during the 2004 elections, the source of the "Hello, Garci!" tapes said Wednesday.

Smart promptly dismissed the claim as "an old story" but admitted it was possible that an employee had coordinated with Isafp.

Interviewed on dzBB radio, former Air Force T/Sgt. Vidal Doble said two of his former superiors at the "Project Lighthouse" operation – Col. Paul Sumayo and Capt. Frederick Rebong – "coordinated" with a contact inside the telecom firm.

Doble said that, "Sa officers' level namin, si Captain Sumayo at si Colonel Rebong yung nakipag-coordinate sa service provider na Smart (At our officers' level, Captain Sumayo and Colonel Rebong coordinated with the service provider which is Smart)."

He said Sumayo and Rebong worked with a "recruit" to launch the wiretapping operations, which targeted politicians from both the administration and opposition alike.

"Definitely, (may kasabwat). Kasi hindi naman magiging posible yan kung wala kang contact dun sa loob eh (Definitely they have a cohort there. Because it won't be possible if they didn't have a contact in the company)," Doble said.

Asked if the telecom management knew about the wiretapping, Doble said in Filipino that, "Agents conduct what we call spotting. They look for people they can recruit. That's how it starts. Agents study the people whom they can approach, what their weaknesses are, what they like, where they live. Weak points are identified."

However, Doble said it was possible that the owners of Smart Communications did not know that wiretapping had been conducted through its technology or personnel.

"Maybe [the owners don't know] ... we just need a technical [employee] in Smart," Doble said.

He said the implications of the wiretapping operations were far-reaching. "Walang imposible basta tinarget kayo, asahan niyo na yun (Nothing's impossible as long as you're a target, expect to be wiretapped."

For its part, Smart Communications brushed aside Doble's claims as nothing but "an old story" but admitted that it was possible that an employee coordinated with the Isafp.

Ramon Isberto, spokesman for Smart, said that, "This first came out two to three years ago. The company has not participated in any efforts to monitor conversations."

"It is possible [some company officials participated] as anything is possible. But actions like this are certainly violative of company policy," he said.

Isberto added that, "There are internal processes that deal with situations like this. We conduct periodic investigations to ensure the quality and security of our operations."

He declined to say if investigations specifically on the "Hello, Garci!" scandal have led to apprehensions. But he said that if there were, the company would certainly have fired the person found responsible.

He said "it would depend on circumstances" whether the company would surrender the person caught to authorities. He refused to elaborate.

Speechless wiretappers

Meanwhile, Doble said he and everybody else involved in "Project Lighthouse" were shocked to hear President Arroyo speak with former elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano in one wiretapped conversation about the rigging of poll results.

"We are accustomed to [listen in on] enemies of the state. But to hear a president, we were all stunned. We all reacted," Doble said.

During his videotaped interview presented by Sen. Panfilo Lacson, Doble said "Project Lighthouse" had 14 members divided into four teams.

"All of the teams knew about the conversation of PGMA (Arroyo) and commissioner Garcillano," he said.

Doble added that it was "appalling (nakakakilabot)" to hear the conversation, noting that "at our level" during "schooling," copying or using cheat sheets would result in their automatic discharge.

'They know'

He said his other colleagues in the wiretapping operations were possibly scared to come forward since they had their families to think about, or had to save their own skins. Some were still in active service, while some were due to retire this year, Doble added.

Pressed to divulge who gave the order to launch "Project Lighthouse," Doble revealed several names whom he said can provide the answer.

They are: Western Command (Wescom) chief Vice Admiral Tirso Danga, former deputy chief of staff for intelligence; Brigadier Gen. Marlou Quevedo, former Isafp chief; Army Col. Allen Capuyan, former head of the Isafp's special operations group; and "down the line" the project "group commander" Col. Sumayo; Capt. Rebong; and Capt. Lindsay Rex Sagge.

"They are the ones whom I believe can say who gave the order," Doble said. - GMANews.TV