Call to end probe of wiretapping snowballs

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — The clamor for an end to the Senate inquiry into the “Hello, Garci” scandal has snowballed, with Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago warning his colleagues against the contradicting statements made by the star witness, former military spy Vidal Doble.

But Santiago said that if her colleagues decide to push through with the investigation, she would want to grill Doble and his legal wife, Arlene, to find out if they are telling the truth regarding their supposedly “arbitrary detention” by the Armed Forces at the height of the Hello Garci scandal in 2005.

“It appears that some of my colleagues have proposed an end to the Garci probe. If so, I have no objection,” Santiago said in a personal letter sent to Senator Rodolfo Biazon, who is heading the investigation as chairman of the Senate committee on national defense and security.

Biazon’s panel started the joint probe last Friday with the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee headed by Senator Alan Peter Cayetano and the constitutional amendments and revision of law committee headed by Senator Richard Gordon.

But Santiago noted that if her colleagues investigating the wiretapping issue decide to continue, she would like to reserve time to question Doble.

“Since Mr. Doble has made allegations about the alleged arbitrary detention of his wife, Arlene, fairness dictates that Arlene Doble should also be invited to testify,” she likewise pointed out.

But even Gordon, after personally questioning Doble, called for an end to the probe of the wiretapping issue, saying the main witness of the inquiry should instead be jailed for issuing perjurious statements.

Along with Gordon, Senator Joker Arroyo, who headed the Blue Ribbon Committee in the previous Congress, said earlier he saw no need for the wiretapping probe in the Senate to continue, because its primary resource person— Doble—has been exposed as a “perjured witness” and a “polluted source” who had admitted engaging in the illegal act of wiretapping in 2004.

Arroyo noted that if Doble were testifying before a criminal court, his testimony would rendered unacceptable because he had already committed perjury as shown by the glaring inconsistencies between his previous and present statements on his alleged involvement in the wiretapping scandal.

Gordon also said he found it hard to rely on the credibility of Doble, who, upon questioning by senators, admitted that he received P2 million in 2005 in connection with his involvement in the wiretapping controversy.

His misgivings were shared by Senator Ramon Revilla Jr., who, after confirming that Doble received the P2-million windfall, asked how his colleagues could ascertain that Doble was not paid now to reverse his previous testimony.

Among the inconsistencies that Doble’s Senate testimony revealed wash is admission that he engaged in wiretapping in 2005, which contradicted his sworn declaration before the House of Representatives two years ago that he was never involved in wiretapping.

Upon questioning, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile likewise noted another inconsistency when he cited Doble’s sworn statement before the Court of Appeals that he chose to stay inside the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines headquarters at the height of the wiretapping scandal in 2005 because he was afraid of what former National Bureau of Investigation Deputy Dir. Samuel Ong could do to him.

Enrile pointed out that Doble was again contradicting himself when he claimed now that he had stayed at the Isafp headquarters against his will.

Ong announced in 2005 that he was in possession of the “mother of all tapes” concerning the Hello Garci scandal, which he said he got from Doble, who later denied this claim. But Doble confirmed in last week’s joint Senate hearing that he was paid P2 million by Ong in exchange for these tapes.

On top of these inconsistencies, Gordon had also pointed to how Senator Panfilo Lacson had virtually testified for Doble when he failed to establish the identity of a woman who was supposedly present when he was accompanied by Bishop Socrates Villegas to the quarters of then Armed Forces Chief Efren Abu inside Camp Aguinaldo.

Doble said the woman was identified by his wife as certain “Medy.” After Doble failed to say who Medy really was, Lacson himself informed the committees that after making a background check, he had learned that the woman was Undersecretary Remedios Poblador of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office.