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Defensor: Arroyo 'I am sorry' speech on poll fraud a mistake

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's "I am sorry" speech on the "Hello Garci" issue was a mistake, Presidential Chief of Staff Michael Defensor said Tuesday, exactly a year after she made the statement. Mrs. Arroyo should not have apologized to the nation on June 27, 2005, Defensor said, because she really had nothing to be sorry about and was only misguided by people she once trusted but had now abandoned her. “The President made a mistake when she made the speech," he said in Filipino. Defensor said he was among those who wanted the President to address the "Hello Garci" issue in a different way. He and other officials felt that the tapes were tampered and were not even authenticated by the Committee on Public Information of the House of Representatives. Moreover, wiretapping is an illegal act, and the President sould not have given the issue any credence, he said. "Exactly one year after, (the) 'I am sorry speech' of GMA, looking back...regrets," Defensor said. "What saddens me is that those who pushed her to make the speech eventually abandoned her." In a statement aired over national television a year ago on the alleged wiretapped phone conversation she had with then Elections Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, Mrs. Arroyo apologized for committing “a lapse in judgment." The President said that to ensure that her votes are protected during the election canvass in 2004, she called “many people," including an unnamed election official, in obvious reference to Garcillano. The President said then that she had decided to take “full responsibility for my actions" and hoped that her statement would provide closure and end speculations that she had cheated in the May 2004 presidential elections. Contrary to what the President had expected, the apology was used by the political opposition to fuel their ouster call for her. A week after her speech, 10 of her most trusted Cabinet and other senior officials, including almost her entire economic team, quit their posts and joined moves to force her resignation. The writing of the "I am sorry" speech was reportedly assisted by Senate President Franklin Drilon, whom Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye had earlier accused of conspiring with anti-administration groups to oust Mrs. Arroyo. -GMANews.TV
See transcript of President Arroyo's "I am sorry" speech on the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) site: