Saturday, 17 April 2010

Arroyo not wicked to spoil automated polls – Planas

Manila Bulletin

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is not that wicked to deliberately spoil the highly anticipated national and local elections and deprive Filipinos of their right to vote, according to a Palace official.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Charito Planas on Friday insisted that the government rallies behind clean and credible elections this May as she called on the public to work for its success rather than worry about its supposed collapse.

Planas likewise urged the Filipino nation not to be easily swayed by gloomy scenarios about the upcoming elections raised by some local and foreign groups, saying Filipinos should be “masters in our own country” and take charge of their fate.

“Failure of elections is impossible,” Planas told reporters in the Palace, citing the electoral process has started with the registration of voters and filing of certificate of candidacies for 35,000 positions up for grabs.

Planas said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has also readied contingency measures in case of glitches in the country’s first automated elections, including preparations for standby power for poll machines. The government, she added, supports partial manual counting of votes if some of the poll machines malfunction next month.

“We should not be too negative. Is the President that bad (to derail the elections)? As you can see, she is a working President, an icon of infrastructure. When there is a problem, she finds a solution. So let's change this negative attitude. Let us look forward to successful elections that will take place and a new president will be elected and all new other sets of officers will be elected,” she said.

A former US State Department official, W. Scott Thompson, reportedly claimed the Obama administration is monitoring the upcoming elections in the Philippines amid concerns the democratic exercise may be tainted or disrupted. Another foreign risk assessment firm also reportedly issued a report warning about the signs of imminent failure of elections in the country next month.

Planas said they respect the concerns raised by these foreign groups but asserted that Filipinos know better the situation. “They are free to make a statement but we are our own masters in our country and we determine our own fate while we work as a family of the world nations, we also have our own,” she said.

Planas said the future of Smartmatic Corp, winning bidder of the poll automation project, is at stake if the country’s elections go wrong. ”If the automated elections fail, their business is over. They have to make it good and it has to succeed,” she said.

On concerns raised by Liberal Party standard-bearer Sen. Benigno Aquino III that Basilan attacks was part of a government’s plot to cheat in the polls, Planas dismissed such speculation. She said presidential candidates who raise the irresponsible specter of failed elections do not deserve the vote of the people.

Planas also lamented that opposition groups have grown a habit to blame President Arroyo for the country’s problems including those that haven’t happened yet. ”Let’s stop all these. This kind of attacks come from a person who does not use his brain,” he said.

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