POSTSCRIPT / September 9, 2007 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Senate being insulted with 'Doble hearsay'

DOBLE HEARSAY: That was Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile’s apt description of statements made by former T/Sgt. Vidal Doble at the opening of the Senate investigation last Friday into the old “Hello Garci” controversy.

Reacting to Doble’s clumsy attempt to link a Malacanang lady official to the wiretapping issue, Enrile said that the ex-military spy’s statements were not “double hearsay,” but “Doble hearsay.” The term elicited laughter from the gallery.

Doble claimed that he saw a certain “Medy” in the quarters of former Armed Forces chief of staff Efren Abu in Camp Aguinaldo, where he went after leaving the San Carlos seminary in Guadalupe, Makati, at the height of the Garci wiretapping scandal in 2005.

Such remarks would be struck out as double hearsay in court. Having no direct personal knowledge of it, Doble merely repeated his wife’s conjecture about “Medy” being the “sekretarya ni Presidente Arroyo.”

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PING RESCUE: With Doble’s words getting wobbly, his benefactor Sen. Panfilo Lacson came to his rescue. He told fellow senators that after a background check, he learned that the woman was Undersecretary Remedios Poblador of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office.

To make this tidbit more titillating, Lacson added another hearsay that the word in Malacanang was that this “Medy” was close to President Arroyo. He said that “Medy” was the only person, aside from Lupita Kashiwahara, allowed to ride with the President.

Now I’m dying to hear what Lupita would say to that.

* * *

VENTRILOQUISM: Mercifully, after hearing this apparently scripted “revelation,” some senators tried to stop the trick of making Doble’s double hearsay ring true by filling in the blanks in his testimony.

Sen. Richard Gordon noted how it would not be proper for “the one investigating to be also the one answering the questions” during the proceedings. That would be legislative ventriloquism.

Sen. Joker Arroyo said that the Senate should set a standard of not allowing its members to testify at hearings, because there was no way to question or cross-examine them to see if they were telling the truth.

* * *

PAID PIPER: Apart from this “Medy” sidebar, there was really nothing new in Doble’s testimony that the public has not already heard from his video testimony and media interviews.

His somersault in now announcing that he had a role in wiretapping prominent personalities during the 2004 election period is already yesterday’s news.

His Senate appearance only exposed him as a witness mouthing contradicting statements and bearing the stigma of having admitted receiving P2 million to peddle an earlier version of his involvement in the wiretapping mess.

* * *

KIDNAPPER SOC!: A letter of Bishop Socrates Villegas received by the senators belied Doble’s claim two years ago that he was “kidnapped” from the San Carlos seminary.

Doble claimed then that he was being held in the seminary by former NBI Deputy Director Samuel Ong. The NBI official had announced that he had “the mother of all tapes,” which he claimed was given by Doble, who, at that time, denied involvement in the wiretapping.

Villegas helped Doble get out of the seminary and acceded to his request that they proceed to Camp Aguinaldo to meet his family.

In his letter, Villegas noted that his main concern in going to the seminary was to ensure the safety of seminarians there. Confirming his statement two years ago, the bishop said that when he saw Doble, he introduced himself and offered to help him.

The bishop asked then where he wanted to go, to which the latter answered, “To my family.” Thus, he accompanied Doble to his family in Camp Aguinaldo. The man, however, now claims that was kidnapping!

* * *

INCONSISTENT: Doble again contradicted himself when Arroyo asked him if he was confirming the contents of his sworn testimony given to the House of Representatives in 2005. After a huddle with his lawyers, Doble said Yes.

Arroyo noted that if that were so, Doble was contradicting himself again because he claimed in the House hearings that he was not involved in any wiretapping.

Enrile noted another inconsistency, this time in Doble’s testimony before the Court of Appeals, which heard the habeas corpus petition filed two years ago by his girlfriend Marietta Santos.

Reading the court transcripts, Enrile noted that Doble told the CA he chose to stay inside the ISAFP headquarters during the wiretapping scandal, because he was afraid of what Ong might do to him.

In fact, Doble’s testimony that he was not being held prisoner inside ISAFP led the court to dismiss the habeas corpus petition.

Now, Enrile pointed out, Doble is claiming that he had stayed at ISAFP against his will. In other words, he noted, Doble had lied before a judicial proceeding.

* * *

DOUBLE DEAD: Trying to diffuse the damage, Doble added that he was forced to lie to the court because he was afraid. An incredulous Gordon noted that Doble was already with his family at that time. So what was there to be afraid of?

Even on personal matters, Doble could not give straight answers. Trying to ascertain the “resource person’s” credibility, Gordon asked him the simple question of what was his relationship to Marietta Santos.

Doble said Santos was his “kaibigan” (friend). It was only after much effort that Doble admitted what everyone already knew — that she was his girlfriend. Cornered, Doble admitted that he was actually her “regular customer” at a KTV bar.

As Postscript said before, the Senate is beating a dead horse in resurrecting the “Hello, Garci” scandal. The carcass now looks “double dead” with Doble insulting the senators with his “Doble hearsay.”

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of September 9, 2007)

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