MANILA,  JUNE 12, 2004
By Cecille Suerte Felipe  -  Sen. Edgardo Angara has taken offense at an attempt to link him to the fake statements of votes (SOVs) and certificates of canvass (COCs) found inside one of the toilets in the Senate building last May 17, his counsel said yesterday.

Angara is attending an international anti-corruption conference in the United Kingdom. His lawyer, Demaree Raval, asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in a letter dated June 11 to "put things in proper perspective."

"We don’t want to interfere in your investigation. We simply wish that the putting of any political color on the investigation should be avoided and that while your investigation has yet to be concluded, media leaks prejudicial to some persons’ reputations ought also to be avoided," Raval said.

His letter was addressed to lawyer Ricardo Diaz, who heads the NBI-International Police (Interpol) division, one of the units tasked by NBI Director Reynaldo Wycoco to investigate the origin of the fake documents that were apparently meant to discredit the May 10 elections.

Raval said there was an obvious attempt to link Angara to the fake COCs discovered inside the Senate building last month. He added that his client has given him permission to send the letter to the NBI.

Raval also clarified that janitress Isabel Vasquez is assigned not only to Angara’s office in the Senate but also to the annex office of Senate President Franklin Drilon.

Angara’s lawyer also noted that the mention of former opposition senator Francisco Tatad as Vasquez’s former employer was done to fortify the political slant of the news.

Vasquez was the last person seen to have used the ladies’ toilet at the Senate building’s fifth floor before a brown envelope containing fake COCs and SOVs was found.

Senate security cameras showed the janitress going to the rest room at 9:33 a.m. Less than 15 minutes later, elevator operator Charito Lacdao found the envelope.

When asked for his comments on the issue, Diaz assured Raval that the NBI is being fair in its efforts to trace the origin of the fake documents.

Diaz, in his reply to Raval’s letter, quoted Wycoco’s earlier pronouncement that "we don’t say or imply that Angara has anything to do with it."

"You and I know how the media in this country works and how they write their story and presentation or slant is their sole responsibility," Diaz said.

The NBI found several discrepancies in Vasquez’s statement to NBI agents Raul Tepace and Lemuel Loyola, but pointed out that these inconsistencies are not enough for her to be charged.

Sources said that despite these discrepancies, Vasquez reportedly passed a lie-detector or polygraph test.

The NBI said in the absence of a person who actually saw someone place the envelope with fake COCs and SOVs inside the ladies’ comfort room, circumstantial evidence is not enough for anyone to be charged with the crime.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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