MANILA, June 18, 2005
(STAR) By Aurea Calica - President Arroyo will talk about the alleged wiretapped conversations she had with Elections Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano "at the right time," her former election campaign spokesman said yesterday.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Michael Defensor said MalacaŮang is still awaiting the results of an investigation of the case, adding that legal procedures should be followed before the President can comment on the controversy.

"The people should not worry about the Presidentís silence. She will surely talk about the tape(s) at the right time," Defensor said over dwIZ radio.

He noted the slew of contradicting opinions over the recordings of supposed conversations between Mrs. Arroyo and Garcillano in rigging the results of the May 2004 presidential election.

Defensor said it was best to wait for the results of the probe.

"Some people think itís really the Presidentís voice Ö in my case, I donít. (If the conversation was indeed tapped), the deeper issue to look into is who did that to her and why. You know this is not just an offense against the President but her office," he said.

Defensor said the controversy "is an outright attempt to put the Office of the President to shame."

In the wake of Mrs. Arroyo continued silence on the issue, Defensor noted the President had explained her side properly and maintained her innocence against allegations of electoral fraud.

"What the people behind those tapes want to prove is that the President cheated and she did not," he said.

Defensor cited the statements of several foreign governments, along with international and local organizations that the May 2004 elections was generally credible.

"They (critics and the opposition) are trying to force the issue of cheating. For over a month now we have been hearing about those tapes and why are they coming out with them just now? Clearly, all they want is to destabilize the government and oust the President," Defensor said.

Mrs. Arroyo refused to dignify the oppositionís allegations of cheating. She said the accusations are just part of "politics of destabilization."

"I will not comment on the authenticity of the material that the accusers admit was illegally derived," Mrs. Arroyo said during an interview with a local cable TV station in Cagayan de Oro City on Thursday.

Mrs. Arroyo said that from the beginning, her opponents had questioned her electoral victory but the people believed she won "fair and square."

Mrs. Arroyo described said it would be "now or never" for her political enemies to unseat her in the backdrop of the gains made by her administration to improve the economic conditions for the country.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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