DND chief predicts 20%-30% failure in automated polls

DateLine Philippines

Defense secretary Norberto Gonzales said on Sunday that the worst that can happen in the May polls is a 20% to 30% failure of automated elections in polling areas where there are “problems of transmission.”

“This problem is what government is bracing for,” Gonzales said in an interview, adding that the poll body is preparing for the eventuality of incomplete automation.

“AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) will be there to assist the COMELEC (Commission on Elections) to keep the election orderly and clean in areas where there will be problems in proceeding with automated voting,” Gonzales said.

The Defense secretary dismissed fears of a failure of elections in May that could possibly lead to President Arroyo’s prolonged stay in power.

“Let’s not talk about failure of election. Commission on Elections does not see any possibility of such occurrence, and we believe Comelec in that,” Gonzales said.

He added that the “government is not preparing for any failure of election because it will not happen. There is no need to do so.”

Gonzales also described as “too presumptuous of the opposition” to think that the military will be used to keep President Arroyo in power beyond June 30.

“I don’t know where they are getting such ideas,” he said. “Our term ends in June 30 this year and we are all looking forward to a smooth transition of power on that day,”

The defense chief also expressed confidence in the determination and readiness of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to protect democracy and the integrity of the 2010 election.

“You know, something very good is happening to our Armed Forces and the police… I can see that they are really determined to keep our democracy safe. And I don’t see any officers planning to destroy their institution,” Gonzales said.

“Let’s not pre-judge our Armed Forces. Let us respect them,” Gonzales said.

On Friday, pressed by reporters in Clarkfield, Pampanga if he would follow an illegal order, Gonzales said, “It never occurred to me. I know that our President will never issue an illegal order. And I will never do so myself.”

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