Whistle-Blower: No Knowledge of FG's Link to 2004 Poll Scandal

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MANILA, Philippines - The leader of a team of elite police officers allegedly involved in the switching of some 6,000 election returns (ERs) used in the 2004 polls Friday admitted that he had no personal knowledge on claims that former First Gentleman Miguel "Mike" Arroyo was the financier of the group for the operation.In a press conference at the Department of Justice (DoJ), Senior Superintendent Rafael Santiago said he just overheard the information that Mr. Arroyo funded the Batasan Pambansa break-ins from January to February 2005 from another person, insisting he had no personal knowledge on the involvement of the former first gentleman."I don't have any knowledge but we heard that from a certain person who later, maybe through the effort of the DoJ, will establish that, but as far as personal knowledge, I don't know anything about it," Santiago told reporters after a closed-door meeting with De Lima.Pressed as to who this person was, Santiago replied: "As I said, we cannot give details of the facts surrounding it because we are refrained by the DoJ until we submit [our] statements."On Thursday, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said the joint DoJ and Commission on Elections (Comelec) panel will ask Mr. Arroyo to appear before them in light of the revelations made by Santiago, a member of the police Special Action Force (SAF), that the first gentleman allegedly funded the break-in at the Batasan Pambansa building to steal election returns for the 2004 elections."The funding daw came from FG. But as to whether Santiago had personal knowledge, I don't know; that can be clarified in his affidavit," De Lima, who met with Santiago and five other SAF policemen last Wednesday evening, said."We will summon [Mr. Arroyo] if he will be implicated in the affidavit by these police officers, definitely we will summon him," she added.De Lima said those found involved in poll anomalies face a host of charges including bribery; persuading, inducing or influencing public officers to violate rules, and other offenses covered by Republic Act 3019 or Anti-Graft and Corruption Act."There were talks and stories about them (potential witnesses) already before. And the video they have, other people already knew about that either in 2005 or 2006 when the 'Hello, Garci' controversy broke out. This group tried to come out but they just didn't push through," she said.Meanwhile, Santiago and his men - Police Officer (PO) 2 Alan Layugan, PO2 Trifon Laxamana, PO1 Norman Duco, PO2 Rodel Tabangin - caught members of the media by surprise when they appeared at the DoJ compound to submit the 34 election returns (ERs) that they claimed would prove there was an attempt to hide widespread cheating in Mindanao.The police officers, who are in active service, were accompanied by their legal counsels led by lawyer Victor Rodriguez"Ang pagparito po namin ngayon ay upang ibigay ang mga natirang election returns na nasa possession namin sa nakaraang anim na taon. At ito ay upang ipakita na ang aming sinimulan na pakikipag-ugnayan sa ating honorable secretary ng DOJ ay pawang may katotohanan,"Santiago said."Aming inaasahan kaya kami nagpunta dito sa Department of Justice, by the name of justice alone, we seek justice here by coming out with the truth, by revealing the truth," he declared.Santiago said he and his group would provide more details when they submit their sworn statements or affidavits on Tuesday next week. …