Palace backpedals on option to postpone poll
By RG Cruz
MANILA, Philippines – A spokesman of President Arroyo on Wednesday backpedaled on his earlier statement expressing support for a delay in the automated elections on Monday over glitches in preparations.
Deputy presidential spokesman Gary Olivar earlier told Agence France-Presse that the May 10 elections may need to be delayed because of technical problems with vote counting machines.
“I would imagine that the success of the automation… is more important than the timing. Nobody benefits from a foul up… if technical issues require more time and require us to delay, that is not an unreasonable judgment to make,” Olivar told AFP.
Olivar’s statements, coupled with the proposal of President Arroyo’s election lawyer to postpone the election for 15 days, was promptly rejected by the Commission on Elections who assured the public that the automated poll will push through next Monday.
During the daily afternoon briefing with Palace media, Olivar softened his stance and said Malacañang will defer to the Comelec’s decision on the matter.
“This started as a position of the President’s election lawyer, but ang posisyon ng palasyo is to defer to the Comelec. Even lawyers and IT experts seem to have different points of view on whether we can postpone or as a technical matter,” he told reporters.
He also said Arroyo’s election lawyer Romulo Macalintal was speaking for himself and not his client when he proposed that elections be postponed for 15 days.
“I’m not aware (na) nagpakita ng negative reaction si Pangulo…Macalintal’s comment is his statement as a lawyer. He has other clients. I don’t think he intended to speak for the president,” he said.
Presidential adviser on political affairs Prospero Pichay Jr. said the administration never wanted a delay or cancellation of the elections set on Monday.
“We haven’t really thought of postponing elections. It never crossed our mind that’s the stand of Malacañang. May election code. We are not entertaining thoughts of postponing the election. We’re anticipating elections will happen Monday,” he said.
He added: “We have to give Comelec a chance.”
Pichay and Olivar welcomed news that the Comelec has finally decided that elections will push through as scheduled on Monday.
Olivar also urged some groups to stop spreading talk about an alleged plot by President Arroyo to stay in power through the sabotage of elections.
Progressive partylist Anakpawis on Wednesday said all sectors and groups must unite to stop RAFAEL (Retain Arroyo through Failure of Elections) and NOEL (No Elections) scenarios being pushed by Malacañang.
“Sana tanggalin political noise at bangayan. Rafael — this is political. Noise na tingin namin muli na naman sinasangkot Pangulo. Hindi naman siya tumatakbo for national office,” he said. With Agence France-Presse