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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 June 2005, 17:23 GMT 18:23 UK
Philippine tape in ringtone craze
By Sarah Toms
BBC News, Manila

Samuel Ong, the dismissed deputy chief of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) displays an alleged master copy of an audio tape as he claims in a news conference Friday June 10, 2005
The tapes have been played to the media
Part of an alleged conversation between the Philippines president and an election official has become a hugely popular ring tone on mobile phones.

Gloria Arroyo's administration says the tape has been altered to imply that there was election cheating.

But Filipinos are defying the threat of prosecution to add the unusual tune to their phones.

The 17-second greeting is top of the charts on phones, as Mrs Arroyo struggles with record low popularity.

But the snippet of an alleged discussion about vote rigging with an election official known as Garci has given her the ear of Filipinos.

The government says the recording was made with an illegal war tap and then doctored.


The authorities have barred the media from broadcasting any portion of it, saying it is part of a plot against the president.

Even public transport drivers have been warned not to adapt the ring tone to the horns of their vehicles.

But an internet site offering the 'Hello Garci' tune crashed last week as Filipinos clamoured to download it.

Antony Cruz from a text message consumer rights group said its site got more than 70,000 hits in three days.

Opponents of former president Joseph Estrada used text messages to help organise a people power uprising that drove him from office four years ago.

President Arroyo is not facing a popular revolt at the moment, but her government cannot get Filipinos to say "Goodbye" to "Hello Garci".

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Country profile: The Philippines
21 Dec 03 |  Country profiles

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