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‘Hello Garci’ will haunt Esperon–detained Marine colonel

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 18:26:00 05/11/2008

MANILA, Philippines–The ghost of the “Hello Garci” election fraud scandal will “haunt” outgoing military chief General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. even after his retirement, a detained Marine colonel said.

At the same time, Colonel Ariel Querubin warned that military officers who knew of alleged cheating that propelled President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to a fresh six-year term in the 2004 elections were likely to come out in the open after her term ends in 2010.

Querubin is one of 28 officers facing court martial over the alleged February 2006 coup plot. The accused officers are protesting the alleged involvement of military officers, including Esperon, in the supposed vote-rigging operations.

“Definitely, the Garci tape will haunt him [Esperon] forever,” Querubin said.

In purported wiretapped conversations, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and ex-elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano allegedly spoke of plans to rig the 2004 election results, with the help of Esperon and other military officers.

The wiretaps were called “Hello Garci,” in reference to how the female voice in the tape, supposedly that of the President, addressed Garcillano by his nickname.

A military fact-finding board, headed by retired Navy Vice Admiral Mateo Mayuga, cleared the military of involvement in alleged cheating, but his report was never made public in full.

In an interview on Sunday, Esperon said he was retiring on Monday with a “clean conscience” as he denied anew allegations lining him to the “Hello Garci” controversy.

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Written by joelguinto

SunUTC2008-05-11T10:50:25+00:00UTC05bUTCSun, 11 May 2008 10:50:25 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am05

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