Friday, March 19, 2010

Junta possible if polls fail - Palace ('Situation, Constitution dictating,' says Planas)

Saturday, 20 March 2010 00:00

Original Story:

A military “junta” may take over in case no winner of the race to the presidency would be declared in the May 10 elections, a MalacaƱang spokesperson said Friday.

“A military junta may take over. It’s possible because military juntas have taken over in several countries especially in Southeast Asia,” Charito Planas said during a press conference.

President Gloria Arroyo “will not be the [acting] president on June 30. A military junta might take over the top post,” she added.

Planas was answering reporters’ queries on post-election scenarios where the posts of president, vice president, Senate president, and House Speaker will be all vacant from a failure of the polls.

“Even Senate President [Juan Ponce] Enrile mentioned that it could be [a junta taking over] . . . I’m not the only one [saying that],” she said.

When asked if President Arroyo is prepared to act as acting president in a hold-over capacity, Planas replied that the Constitution must be revisited in dealing with that issue.

“Let us look at the Constitution. It’s not the President who is saying that she’s taking over. If you can remember, Sen. Enrile once said that the military might take over. And it happens to other countries. The military takes over,” she said. “It’s not the President who’s dictating, it’s the situation and the Constitution.”

But Planas, a lawyer, clarified that if a no-winner scenario arises, Mrs. Arroyo will definitely step down from power. And if there is no clear replacement for the President, she said there is a constitutional provision that could resolve it. She did not elaborate.

Planas’ comments came after critics chastised the President for appointing Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit as the Armed Forces chief of staff, alleging he would extend the term of Mrs. Arroyo in a hold-over capacity in case the May elections failed

Nil chance of failure

Planas also expressed confidence that the May 10 polls would push through, saying that a failure of elections has never happened at the national level.

“Failure of elections only happens in a precinct, or district. That [failure at the national level] will never happen,” MalacaƱang spokesman Charito Planas said Friday during a press conference.

She also clarified that if the automation of the polls miscarried, a failure of elections could not be declared because the ballots could still be counted manually.

Quoting election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, Ricardo Saludo, another Palace spokesman, said that elections had never failed in the country even with manual tallying of votes.

|“Now there will be automated counting in most precincts, with no more than 30-percent manual count in a worst-case scenario. Hence, there is nil chance of failure,” he added.

“Of course, we can’t stop alarmist critics and headline-seeking candidates from floating all sorts of dire scenarios for failures, takeovers and holdovers. But let our people be assured: Our elections have never failed. Neither will the 2010 polls, even if all our votes are counted by hand,” Saludo said.

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