Did Ted Failon get in the way of a VIP's big hidden agenda?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2009-04-23

There have been murders that were made to look like suicide. Thus, the police must explore all conceivable angles in a reported suicide and ensure that no foul play was committed.

However, the search for evidence to test all the theories of a reported suicide does not grant the police a license to violate the human rights (especially the degradation of human dignity) of possible suspects. It’s worse if the police themselves violate the law in the course of the probe.

It was the glaring violation of both the legal and human rights of high-profile broadcaster Ted Failon (Teodoro Etong), his in-laws and household staff that stirred the big public outrage. It was a clear violation of the law by the police that Ted Failon et al were already being tagged as suspects and were arrested even before a crime had been established. The brusque manner of their arrests, sans arrest warrants at that, visibly degraded their dignity – a clear violation of their human rights.

The fallout was so extensive that even Malacanang mouthpiece Cerge Remonde had to do immediate damage control by expressing sympathy for the plight of the offended parties and reminding the PNP (Philippine National Police) to be professional and sensitive to the highly emotional situation the Etong family is in.

The outrage prompted the preventive suspension of the policemen who were caught on tape applying excessive force together with two Superintendents and one Inspector. Not only that, the probe was transferred to the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) under the DoJ (Department of Justice).

What is rather unsettling about the mysterious death of Trina Arteche Etong, Ted Failon’s wife, is that the earliest theory that was circulated accused the popular broadcaster and former Congressman of killing his wife in the car and then re-staging the death scene in the house to make it look like suicide. It became obvious as the probe went on that the PNP was hell bent on pursuing this theory despite the testimonies of Trina Etong’s own family and closest friends that it was a suicide.

It defied logic that Trina Etong’s best friends, lawyer brother and the sister who was in the house when it happened would support Ted Failon if they sensed that he caused the death of Trina. If you were Trina Etong’s brother and you knew that Ted Failon killed your sister, you would be initiating murder charges. Obviously, they are supporting Ted Failon because they all saw the suicide coming.

The sudden entry of Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez (before last Monday’s transfer of the probe to the NBI) in the investigation somewhat telegraphed that there is more to this Failon incident than just a possible act of vengeance of the Quezon City (QC) police against their vocal critic and the network that exposed the EDSA rubout of alleged carnappers. Gonzalez made it a matter that exceeded the boundaries of QC.

In his April 18 column, Ramon “Mon” Tulfo wrote: “Failon has been bearing down hard on a computer company that’s bidding for the computerization of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).”

“The computer company, according to Failon, has links to a VIP (Very Important Partner),” Mon added.

IT expert Gus Lagman’s interview with Korina Sanchez over a month ago (together with former Comelec Chairman Chris Monsod) convincingly exposed the flaws and unnecessary high costs of the system that the Comelec is set to adopt.

Gus recommends the OES (Open Election System) which is verifiable at certain important stages of the counting. The system that the Comelec is determined to adopt can be internally hacked and programmed to make losers winners. It can create an election nightmare worse than Garci.

Not only that, the OES will only cost around P4 billion – compared to the P11.3 billion of the preferred system of the Comelec. Other IT experts also think that the system the Comelec is adopting does not cost P11.3 billion, suggesting that the cost should be P4 to 5 billion less. Going by the track record of overprice scandals these days – that is not surprising at all.

Your Chair Wrecker has no reason to doubt the sincerity and the integrity of Comelec Chairman Jose Melo. Where we should be doubtful is if he is knowledgeable enough about IT realities and how they can be easily hacked from within. Chairman Melo belongs to that older generation that is easily 75% computer illiterate. The 58 to 61 years old Baby Boomers (about 15 years Melo’s juniors) are easily 50% computer illiterate – going by our own Ateneo alumni egroups.

If there is indeed a capacity for a P4 billion overprice in the Comelec computerization, that is only ‘small potatoes’ compared to the bigger prize – ensuring the control of political power beyond 2010!

Prior to the transfer of the probe to the NBI, despite all the testimonies and even forensic evidence that were accumulating, the QC policemen were still pushing their parricide theory even if this had already triggered a mega public outrage.

Was it because there are some very mighty shadowy figures compelling them to inflict this pressure on one widely-followed broadcaster who could scuttle their plans to steal a lot of money and a lot of votes?

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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