Thursday, June 23, 2005

Wire tappers, come forth

``You think something this high just happens?’’ This was Deep Throat speaking to Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward in a dark parking area. Follow the money, Deep Throat urged.

The scene is from the movie ``All the President’s Men’’ which was about the Watergate break-in scandal that led to the resignation of Pres. Nixon after he was, to use Pinoy slang, nabuking (found out) wiretapping his opponents.

Deep Throat emerged last month, after 30 years of mystery, as former FBI agent Mark Felt, the deep source of Woodward and Carl Bernstein who would later win the Pulitzer for their investigative reporting.

You think something this high just happens? Follow the money. This could very well be good advice for those investigating the audiotapes of the alleged 2004 post-election conversation between Pres. Arroyo and Comelec commish Virgilio Garcillano. Now money is being followed on someone’s say-so and deposed Pres. Estrada’s mistress Laarni Enriquez is being drawn into the picture. The plot is getting murkier.

It’s been two weeks since the ``Hello, Garci’’ tapes have been thrust upon us and circulated through all forms of communications media and no one among the alleged suspects in the activities in question (the act of wiretapping itself and the wiretapped conversation that could mean election fraud might have been committed) has come out to own up to or deny with credibility anything that had been committed. Not the President, not Garcillano, not the wire tappers.

The heat from all sides has so far been on Mrs. Arroyo, Garcillano and the tape leakers. But where are the wire tappers, the ones who actually did it? T/Sgt. Vidal Doble could not have done it alone and now he’s claiming he had been terrorized into saying he had a part in it.

The President is still silent. But what do you expect? Silence is the last and only refuge other than telling the truth or telling a lie. As her body language shows she won’t be bamboozled into telling the truth or telling a lie.

One thing that could perhaps pin the President against the wall would be the wire tappers coming out to declare how, when, where and why they did it, criminal their deed might have been, in order to serve what they thought might be a ``higher cause’’.

Wasn’t that what Fr. Jose Dizon of the street-oriented Left was saying while seated beside tape leaker former NBI deputy director Samuel Ong (strange bedfellows, they) that while wiretapping was illegal there was a ``greater moral evil’’ that needed to be exposed. The end justifies the means, in other words. This is now part of the new Catholic catechism?

What if the wiretappers from the military intelligence, as the leakers said they were, found no ``greater moral evil’’ to show for their bugging expedition? If the buggers were from private agency Wiretap Co. it wouldn’t be so alarming. They had an illegal job to do and were being paid for it like guns-for-hire are. And as long as they didn’t get caught…

But a government agency tasked to look after national security? An agency that is not supposed to be used even by the President or by her opponents for their vested interests. Was there a clear and present danger? Perhaps a Hitler-like president gone mad who might open an anthrax bottle in the dead of night and there was need to record his ululation?

How I wish Ong and the wire tappers had leaked their recording after Mrs. Arroyo was proclaimed winner and while Fernando Poe Jr. was still alive to claim victory. When Ong called on FPJ’s widow Susan Roces to come see him at San Carlos Seminary where he had sought sanctuary she obliged.

``My candidate is dead,’’ Roces said when she emerged. With the recent turn of events Roces must feel FPJ has been vindicated. But smart that she is, there must be clouds of doubt in her mind. What if the buggers also bugged her husband to fish for anything for future use? Why didn’t they use the ``Hello, Garci’’ tapes, illegal these may be, to advance FPJ’s cause? Maybe they weren’t for FPJ either and they also planned to spring a wicked surprise during FPJ’s presidency.

Even while many are feasting on the tapes, the question ``Bakit ngayon lang’’ (why only now) is crying to be answered. Wire tappers, come forth!

Were the conversations authentic and were the things that were said concretized? Saying ``Kill Bill’’ is different from having actually killed Bill. But this does not mean you cannot be held liable for your criminal intent. Being caught saying it on a bugging machine is another story.

The wire tappers coming forward to own up might be legally useless and they will end up in jail. But coming forward is one sure ``patriotic’’ way to pin the President against the wall. If she were innocent she should dare them to come out. And then she should come out herself to confirm or deny. But what if the buggers called her bluff and came out indeed? Bugger and bugged will both be damaged goods.

Read San Beda law dean Fr. Ranhilio C. Aquino’s article ``Wiretapping law: How is it violated?’’ (Inquirer 6/19/05). It is very instructive.

There are those who think that a humble apology on Mrs. Arroyo’s part (if it was all a mere impropriety) would put her back on track. They really think so?

By the way, there is more to Doble and Ong’s seeking sanctuary in San Carlos Seminary than meets the eye, a church ``deep throat’’ said. How seminary authorities were caught by surprise, the role of Bishop Teodoro Bacani who apparently took in Ong. Bacani has himself been in a ``sanctuary’’ status at the Bahay Pari in the compound since two years ago when something rocked his bishopric.

Reminder for sanctuary seekers: Seek the one in charge.