Friday, January 27, 2006

Why the Five Congress Committees Failed


That is how Congressman Roilo Golez of Parañaque describes Executive Order 464 which he says killed the wiretapping investigation of the Five Congress Committees. They were looking into the Garci Recordings and the associated wiretapping charges against the Intelligence Service of the AFP.

Rep. Golez is right of course, and should the proper case be brought before the Supreme Court, perhaps, E.O. 464 will be struck down as unconstitutional, a well-deserved fate for this lil bit of Arroyo fascism.

But I think there is another reason the Five Congress Committees effectively failed to get to the bottom of the Garci Recordings and speaks more to the Opposition's approach in the matter than that of the Palace's obstructionist tactics.

At each of the Congress interrogations of ex-Elections Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano since the latter emerged from some secret hiding hole last November, what the Opposition congressmen were trying to do was to get Garcillano to commit an act of self-incrimination in the matter of the conversations heard in the Garci Recordings.

But the reason the hearings ended up in a stalemate -- a complete and utter draw in which the Congress effectively got nothing because Garcillano gave nothing -- has something to do with this principle:

The wall that separates the Right of the Public to Know from every citizen's Right to Privacy is the Constitutionally-guaranteed Right Against Self-Incrimination.

Every question asked of Virgilio Garcillano effectively tried to breach this wall, but failed, because as a lawyer and alleged master elections operator for 30 years, he knew his rights. His appearance at the Congress was merely the necessary penalty of emerging in order to file his two petitions with the Supreme Court, which are going to be the true killers of the wiretapping investigation. It was really a minor inconvenience in exchange for a possible burial of the Garci Tapes for good by the Supreme Court in House vs. Garcillano.

As I've pointed out before, there were two separate sets of crimes that were putatively committed in 2004: one of voterigging and another of illegal wiretapping. Because the Opposition and the Public have always regarded the Garci Recordings as evidence that Garci and GMA together rigged the 2004 polls, but because no one ever denied they were illegally recorded conversations produced by wiretapping or digital splicing, their legal standing has never been clear. Everyone accepted that they were illegal wiretaps and so Garci could rightly refuse to answer anything that were based on their supposed content. But what the Opposition never quite got I think, until it was too late, is that the mere existence of the Garci Recordings bespoke of culpable violations of the Constitution in the use of the military's intelligence service for PARTISAN POLITICAL PURPOSES.

TEDDY BOY'S ALL WET I was absolutely flummoxed by Rep. Teodoro Locsin of Makati, for saying strange things like that the Five Congress Committees had uncovered evidence of a plot to overthrow the government using the Garci Tapes. I hope I heard the TV wrong because I think that is BALONEY! The Garci Tapes are physical evidence of crimes associated with Republic Act 4200 -- the Anti-Wiretapping Law. Period. Heck they even contain the voices of the WIRETAPPERS themselves, for crying out loud. They should have been investigated as such and prosecuted to the maximum extent of the law.

The Five Congress Committees failed because its chairmen, like Teddy Boy, led it in the wrong directions -- him in circles, the Opposition into the impossible attempt to get Garci to admit to impeachable crimes.

I said it before: Only the Opposition can save GMA.

Well at least Senator Rodolfo Biazon is on the job at the Senate Defense Committee.


manuelbuencamino said...

Yup Biazon has his eye on the ball.

On EO 464 - something Fr. Bernas said in a TV interview - The Supreme Court is allowing 464 because it stays legal unless they cut it down. So much for the independence f the SC.

What I would have enjoyed watching - Congress asking Garci to give them a day to day account of his five month escapade. Where he hid, who hid him, how was he paying his expenses etc.

Rizalist said...

MB It's not Garci that has the interesting story to tell YET, but Vidal Doble and Gen. Danga. The wiretapping has Courts Martial and impeachment written all over it, if these guys would only read RA 4200 a lil more closely.

manuelbuencamino said...

I wonder what the AFP internal investigation will reveal and if they'll furnish senate with a copy.

Rizalist said...

With a normal govt, the Budget Hearings are usually the place that the Legislature can get a lot of information from the Executive Dept. But we have a case now where the Palace loves re-enacted budgets coz it gives them a freehand to realign funds. Ergo, no check and balance. I doubt they'll give them anything but a sanitized version.