Price tag of CD: P200M, P30M, P3M, …
First posted 02:24am (Mla time) Mar 14, 2006
HOW MUCH is this hot compact disc worth?
The price of the CD containing footage of an alleged break-in at a room in the House of Representatives where the ballot boxes used in the 2004 presidential election were stored was initially set at P200 million, according to several opposition leaders.
The CD showed six House civilian employees allegedly stealing election returns from a room at the House’s South Wing between January 2005 and February 2005. The election returns were from 38 provinces.
After they realized that they had a gold mine in mid-2005, House security officers who were involved in the break-in either played or peddled the CD to several opposition leaders, including Senators Panfilo Lacson and Rodolfo Biazon, former Senator Loren Legarda, San Juan Representative Ronaldo Zamora, Lacson’s former campaign manager Lito Banayo, and a staff member of an ABS-CBN television program.
The officials reportedly rejected the offer because they found the price too high. They noted that the purported peddler of the “Hello Garci” tape, Technical Sergeant Vidal Doble, got only P2 million reportedly from the camp of former President Joseph Estrada.
The “Hello Garci” tape allegedly contained the wiretapped conversations between President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano that the opposition claims showed that Ms Arroyo rigged the presidential election. Ms Arroyo has denied that she stole the election.
Quoting one of the peddlers, an opposition leader said the P200 million would be divided equally among some 20 House policemen and civilian security officers holding the footage.
“You are not only paying for the CD,” an opposition leader quoted his contact. “You are also ensuring the future of these officers.”
Realizing that there were no takers, the CD peddlers, according to the opposition leaders, reduced the price to P30 million.
Some of the members of the opposition were said to be willing to raise P30 million for the CD on the condition that the security officers would issue separate affidavits and would all appear at a news conference detailing how they obtained the CD.
The money was supposed to be turned over to the security officers before they boarded a plane bound for abroad.
For still unknown reasons, the negotiation collapsed.
Before the alleged coup attempt scheduled on Feb. 24, the price went down to P3 million. After the standoff at Marine headquarters in Fort Bonifacio two Sundays ago, it was raised anew to P30 million, with some opposition leaders describing it as the opposition’s “last card” in their quest to find some answers to the election fraud scandal.
In contrast, the price of another CD that detailed how election returns were reportedly fabricated at a printing press in Cainta town in Rizal province was fixed at P3 million.
The CD also showed scenes, which were first reported by Newsbreak magazine, on irregularities in the 2004 elections, and named lawyer Roque Bello as among those behind the tampering of election returns.
A resident of Cainta, Bello reportedly owned the printing press. The Inquirer yesterday tried to contact Bello, a former election official of the town, but his cell number was not working.
The CD contained photos that should have accompanied the Newsbreak story. Yesterday, the Malaya newspaper published the photos.
One of the photos showed an old car with license plate No. PXD-330 allegedly used to deliver election returns.