Friday, June 29, 2007

Senator Trillanes vows probe on GMA’s poll fraud, to work for ouster

The 2007 Comelec’s National Board of Canvassers and the 2004 Joint Congressional National Board of Canvassers have one in common; all pleas and objections are DENIED and NOTED. Sen. Francis Pangilinan and then Rep.Raul Gonzalez arrogantly denied and simply noted all FPJ camp’s pleading and objections. This time, shameless elections commissionaires denied and set-aside pleas and objections from the opposition camp.

Both elections are fraud-tainted. As a result, both national canvassers made a mockery of democratic processes and rule of law. Well, the Philippines have a fake president and fake senator of the republic. It is indeed a national shame. Senator Trillanes' top agenda is to investigate electoral fraud in 2004 and 2007 and how prevent it from happening again. I hope that Garci and Bedol clones and scalawag generals are history.

Trillanes vows probe on GMA’s poll fraud, to work for ouster

By Gina Peralta-Elorde

Daily Tribune 06/30/2007

Jailed military rebel Antonio Trillanes IV on Friday took his oath as senator, before a barangay captain of Caloocan City, and promised to use his new position to work for the ouster of President Arroyo.

Trillanes, 36, was allowed out of detention to take his oath in Caloocan City following his victory in the May 14 mid-term elections.

More than 11 million voted for the former Navy lieutenant accused of leading a failed military mutiny that paralyzed Manila’s financial district in July 2003. The rising was swiftly crushed without a shot being fired when the rest of the military refused to join the revolt.

Trillanes told reporters Friday that when he begins his work in the Senate next month, he will work to prove Mrs. Arroyo cheated to win the May 2004 presidential elections.

“If we want to serve the country, we have to get rid of Gloria Arroyo,” he said.

He also called on Team Unity senatorial aspirant Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri “to have the decency” to quit the race, and adverted to Zubiri as a “cheat” or at the very least, a beneficiary of the poll fraud in Maguindanao.

Trillanes also vowed to open a probe on the Maguindanao poll fraud.

Zubiri was incensed at hearing the charges of Trillanes and threatened to file a lawsuit against the senator, calling Trillanes a destabilizer and a destroyer of the economy, as well as charging him for being “immature” and ignorant of the “parameters” of a senator and parliamentary courtesies.

Trillanes made history when he ran as part of the opposition slate while in detention in a military stockade. He is still on trial on charges of trying to topple the government.

A case is now pending in court on whether Trillanes can be allowed out of detention to attend Senate sessions.

The 24-member Senate is dominated by Arroyo opponents who have consistently charged that the President cheated to beat the opposition presidential candidate, movie star Fernando Poe Jr., in 2004.

Trillanes yesterday vowed to prioritize the investigation of the alleged cheating in the May 14 2004 elections involving military officials and as well as the spate of killings involving leftist members and leaders.

Trillanes at the same time advised Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr. to seek a government post after his retirement to avoid the summons from the legislative hearings of his involvement in the alleged May 2004 nationwide election cheating.

Esperon is set to retire on Feb. 28, 2008. Trillanes’ term beyond 2010.

Trillanes said he and some opposition senators have gathered testimonies by witnesses and documentary evidence of alleged vote-rigging, not only in Maguindanao province but in other areas as well.

According to Trillanes, Esperon can invoke Executive Order (EO) 464 until he retires and it is better for him to line up and apply for a new position if he wants to invoke it.

EO 464, issued last year, bars government and security officials from testifying in legislative hearings without clearance from Mrs. Arroyo. The Supreme Court struck down several of the order’s provisions as unconstitutional last year.

Despite this, Esperon has said he would invoke EO 464 to evade congressional hearings that Trillanes plans to call to look into extra-judicial killings and the alleged cheating in the 2004 elections.

Nevertheless, Trillanes, who is being tried in both civil and military courts for being an alleged mutiny leader, maintained: “It’s nothing personal. We are after the truth.”

Trillanes added he would summon other military and governments officials who were involved in the supposed cheating operations.

Esperon was linked to the election fraud controversy after he and three other senior officers, who have all retired, were mentioned in purported wiretapped telephone conversations between Mrs. Arroyo and her alleged accomplice in vote-rigging operations, former Elections Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano.

“Garci (Garcillano) mentioned his (Esperon’s) name clearly. Garci will not fool the President by dropping his name if he had not talked to her,” Trillanes said.

In the tapes, it was implied that Esperon had a hand in the relief of then Marine Brig. Gen. Francisco Gudani, who was perceived to be sympathetic to the opposition, as 1st Marine Brigade commander. A military fact-finding board cleared the four so-called “Hello Garci” generals but its report was not fully disclosed to the public.

A gag order was issued just as Gudani and another Marine officer was to testify before the Senate into the alleged electoral fraud. EO 464 followed.

Relatedly, Trillanes also claimed that the three unidentified generals who were quoted to be helping him in gathering evidence in some government anomalies were real and true.

But Trillanes refused to answer more questions regarding the issue saying things would just be preempted.

The generals were quoted as saying that the murders of leftist militants were discussed openly in military command conferences, and that a general told his men that to get promoted, they had to kill activists.

“They (generals) are for real,” Trillanes said.

The newspaper report said the generals would give Trillanes evidence during the hearings.

Trillanes was sworn in by Ruben Gatchalian, Barangay (village) 169 chairman, before a packed crowd at a covered basketball court that was filled with ribbons and streamers in red, the known color of the Magdalo group, of which he was one of its alleged leaders that staged the July 27, 2003 mutiny at the posh Oakwood Apartments in Makati City.

“I assure you I can accomplish the mission you gave me,” said Trillanes who wore a blue Barong Tagalog, in a speech after the oath-taking.

To his family, Trillanes said, “They have been my strength ever since I went to Oakwood and until now.”

Aside from Trillanes’ children – Seth, 9, and Thea, 8; his mother, Estelita, and other relatives – also present at the oath-taking were Sen. Rodolfo Biazon, a former Armed Forces chief, Caloocan Rep. Luis Asistio and former Caloocan City Mayor Rey Malonzo.

A marching band welcomed Trillanes, who arrived under heavy guard from his detention cell at the Philippine Marine headquarters in Fort Bonifacio.

Trillanes has been charged with coup d’etat over the foiled mutiny in 2003.

He led a mutiny of young Army officers against Mrs. Arroyo in 2003 due to perceived graft and corruption in the military and the administration.

While some of the mutiny leaders have reconciled with the President after making public apologies, Trillanes has remained unrepentant, criticizing Mrs. Arroyo’s government for widespread corruption and rights abuses.

He faces rebellion charges at the Makati City Regional Trial Court and several violations of the Philippine Army’s Articles of War before a military tribunal. If found guilty, he has to give up his Senate seat. With AFP

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