GMA  OKAYS  RELEASE  OF  AFP  REPORT  ON  ELECTION  CHEATING

BAGUIO CITY,
APRIL 12, 2006 (STAR) By Aurea Calica And Jaime Laude - President Arroyo has approved the release of a report of an Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) fact-finding body on the possible involvement of military generals in the alleged cheating in the May 2004 elections, Malacañang said yesterday.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said although Mrs. Arroyo approved the recommendations contained in the report prepared by an investigative body headed by Navy chief Vice Admiral Mateo Mayuga when he was Armed Forces inspector general, he would not say if charges would be filed against military officials found liable for abetting electoral fraud.

"It’s a very, very fair report," Ermita told reporters here before the start of a spiritual retreat by the Cabinet along with Mrs. Arroyo.

Coming full circle, the Mayuga report has returned to Mayuga for him to make public on orders from Malacañang.

Mayuga met in a closed-door conference with senior AFP officers at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City yesterday afternoon.

Discussed and agreed in yesterday’s conference was for AFP chief Gen. Generoso Senga and Mayuga himself to make the report to the public today.

Several calls to Mayuga went unanswered. An aide, who took one call, said his boss was unavailable as he was having a conference yesterday afternoon.

Ermita said Mrs. Arroyo instructed Senga to make the report available to the public today at the latest.

Ermita, who allayed fears the report has been watered down after being kept for a long time, said it would help the AFP avoid becoming politicized due to its role during the elections.

"It has something to do with role of the AFP in the elections that has to be looked into by the Comelec (Commission on Elections) so they would not get involved in any more controversy," he said.

Ermita said the report was intensive and contained a lot of statements of witnesses who could shed light on what happened during the 2004 elections.

He said the report could back the proposal of Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz Jr. to stop the use of soldiers during elections.

"She (Mrs. Arroyo) welcomed the report, she approved it," he said.

"It only became controversial because the generals were allegedly involved in the electoral fraud. So they (fact-finding committee led by Mayuga) looked into the involvement of all military officers from top to bottom.

"But it’s not for me to give out the details. The report also recommended that the release of its details be made by the AFP itself."

The release of the Mayuga report has long been awaited as it supposedly detailed how some military generals were used by politicians to be able to cheat during the elections.

In particular, the report looked into the involvement in cheating of generals mentioned in the supposed wiretapped conversations between Mrs. Arroyo and former election commissioner Virgilio Garcillano.

Mrs. Arroyo and Garcillano were accused of conniving to ensure Mrs. Arroyo’s victory in the 2004 elections.

Mayuga submitted his findings to Senga on Jan. 13 after months of investigation that started in July 2005, when he was Armed Forces inspector general.

Four generals stationed in Mindanao during the election were also mentioned in the tapes — Army chief Lt. Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, Southern Command chief Maj. Gen. Gabriel Habacon, retired Lt. Gen. Roy Kyamko and retired Brig. Gen. Francisco Gudani.

Despite having been linked to electoral fraud, Esperon and Habacon were promoted to plum posts.

Kyamko retired from the service shortly after the 2004 elections before the wiretapping scandal broke.

Meanwhile, Gudani who testified at the Senate on electoral fraud without permission, is set to be tried by court martial for violating Executive Order 464.

EO 464 prohibits executive, military, and police officials from testifying in legislative inquiries without permission from Mrs. Arroyo.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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