QUEZON CITY, Philippines – “There will be no junta, no military takeover.”
Gen. Delfin Bangit, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff, made the assurance on Friday after attending a meeting with Director-General Jesus Verzosa of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza, and National Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales in Camp Aguinaldo to discuss final security preparations for the staging of the local and national elections on May 10.
During the meeting, which was also attended by the commanders of the PNP and AFP’s Task Force Hope (Honest Orderly and Peaceful Elections) and staff officers of the AFP’s General Headquarters, Bangit told ABS-CBN that the military is now fully prepared for the elections on May 10. The military, he added, will work closely with the PNP to maintain order.
“We have made the preparations for this election and we reaffirm our commitment to do our best for this election,” Bangit said, adding that the AFP will uphold the Constitution and respect the people.”
“We will respect and support the election,” Bangit said. “There will be no junta, no military take over.”
Green light for polls
Verzosa, meanwhile, said that he and Bangit had just attended the National Security Council (NSC) meeting at Malacañang.
“That was a very important event, especially now it’s just 2 days prior to the elections,” Verzosa said. “We shall hold the elections on Monday.”
Verzosa said that during the meeting, they asked government agencies and departments and the religious and business sectors to help the PNP and AFP in maintaining discipline at the polling precincts.
“We have to make clear the AFP and the PNP are deputized agencies of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and we are working very closely and under the direction of the Commission on Elections,” Verzosa said. “(The Comelec) is a constitutional commission that is empowered to implement and hold elections so I think everything is going okay.”
Soldiers and policemen have also been assigned to escort the convoys delivering the Precinct Count Optical Scan machines and the reconfigured compact flash cards to their proper destinations, he said.
An appeal for trust
Verzosa also called on the public not to be carried away by emotions or swayed by negative reports or sensationalized pronouncements after snags were found in the preparations for the country’s first national automated elections.
“There are some glitches in the past few days but our Comelec has been doing its best so that we can have the elections conducted on Monday,” he said.
“Let us still have faith with the Commission on Elections,” he added. “They are doing their best and let us be rational in our decisions especially pertaining to what is happening around.”
“The AFP and PNP together with the Comelec are doing their best so that our elections will be there and the transition of government will be held after June 30,” he added.
Mendoza then thanked Verzosa and Bangit for preparations they have made to make sure that the elections are held on Monday.
“We are facing a new paradigm,” Mendoza said, referring to the holding of the country’s first automated national elections. “This election will push through and the instrument of government that will deliver this quality of service to our people is provided by the Commission on Elections.”
“Full Moon” denied
Bangit denied involvement in “Project: Full Moon,” purportedly a plan to sow chaos during the polls on Monday.
“There is no such ‘Full Moon’ or whatever,” he said. “It is nonexistent, a creation of some minds who would like to create and instill fear to everyone.”
Gonzales said they have monitored 3 text messages spreading in the last 2 days.
“The first of that text messages say that I am going to engineer the cheating in the coming election together with Gen. Bangit under the supervision of President Ramos, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Secretary Puno,” Gonzales said. “The second text message is that I am going to launch a coup minus the president then the last message is that I have moved to a ‘no election scenario’ to a ‘no proclamation scenario’.”
Text messages analyzed
After Gonzales discussed the text messages circulating around the country, Mendoza, who was previously Transportation and Communications secretary, admitted that when he was with the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), the contents of text messages were analyzed.
“We have about 54 million subscribers of cellular phones and we have an average of about 10 messages per subscribers, so about 540 million short messages or text messages a day,” Mendoza explained. “We tried to do some analysis on the content of these messages.”
According to Mendoza, 60% of text messages consist of rumors and gossips, 20% is family, 10% is work and 10% is education.
“This was also brought before the attention of the NSC during our meeting this afternoon,” he said. “This is not the time for us Filipinos to be alarmed and be bothered by unsubstantiated and malicious text messages.”
Mendoza said the Arroyo administration has already prepared a transition committee to help whoever wins the presidential election to take over Malacañang.