Marine officers ready to talk about alleged 2004 poll fraud
by Andreo Calonzo
Several senior Marine officers are willing to come out in the open to share vital information regarding the alleged irregularities in the 2004 elections that supposedly benefited then presidential candidate Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
This was according to Marine commandant Maj. Gen. Juancho Sabban, who said in an exclusive GMA News interview that he got the assurance personally from these unnamed military officers.
“I talked to some senior officers who were then commanders of middle level units, and they can attest to what happened,” Sabban told GMA News reporter Susan Enriquez in the interview aired over “24 Oras” Wednesday.
He said the officers will only share the information with the soon-to-be-formed Truth Commission, the independent body that will investigate unresolved controversies under the Arroyo administration, including accusations of poll fraud.
Arroyo’s camp has repeatedly denied irregularities during the 2004 elections.
Sabban said most of these officers were assigned in Lanao del Sur, the southern Philippine province where widespread manipulation of votes allegedly took place in 2004.
“According to them, their junior officers can corroborate their statements. So, I think, if the commander comes out, then obviously, those who were there, the junior officers and enlisted personnel, they will also come out and tell what really happened,” he said.
Three now-retired generals – Hermogenes Esperon, Roy Kyamko and Gabriel Habacon – reportedly took part in the cheating to ensure Arroyo’s victory in 2004.
The names came out in the controversial “Hello, Garci” tapes — the wiretapped phone conversation between a woman believed to be Arroyo and a man believed to be then Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner Virgilio Garcillano. [See: Hello, Garci time line.]
A military fact-finding panel had cleared Esperon, Kyamko and Habacon in a report that has been kept confidential up to the present.
Sabban appealed for the release of the report, which is dubbed as the Mayuga report in reference to the five-man panel’s head, retired Navy Vice Adm. Mateo Mayuga.
Sabban also said he is confident that the Truth Commission, to be led by retired Chief Justice Hilario Davide, can get to the bottom of what really happened during the 2004 elections.
President Benigno Aquino III, during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) last Monday, said he would sign the executive order formalizing the creation of the Truth Commission this week. – KBK, GMANews.TV