Gonzales belies role in 2010 cheating

March 12, 2010 11:38 pm 

MANILA, March 12 – Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales on Friday dismissed allegations that he is part of a supposed group that will be engineering the rigging of the results of the presidential and local elections in May.

Gonzales, in his address during the assumption of Maj. Gen. Reynaldo Mapagu as the new Army chief, said the allegations were nothing but part of an ongoing effort to malign the military establishment in relation to the upcoming polls.

Text messages have spread that Gonzales, Armed Forces chief Gen. Delfin Bangit and Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza are engineering the cheating operations. Bangit assumed as AFP chief last Wednesday.

Four military generals were mentioned in the controversial Hello Garci tapes, three of them supposedly held in the cheating of the 2004 elections in favor of President Arroyo. The fourth reportedly supported an opponent of the President.

Gonzales said he had heard of similar allegations that the military would again cheat in the coming elections, prompting him to put the AFP under the full disposal of the Commission on Elections, instead of staying in their barracks and do nothing to correct accusations related to the 2004 polls.

“I want to end all (allegations) maligning the Armed Forces of the Philippines in this coming elections and to me this is a challenge to me and particular to our chief of staff. We will see to it that the Armed Forces will be there on election day. We will make sure that that election will be held as scheduled,” he said.

“We will make sure that that election will be clean and fair, it is the noble duty of our Armed Forces to make sure that this important exercise essential to our democratic process is defended. Some quarter are telling me about failure of election and I say that we don’t even think about failure of election. What we are thinking of is to make sure that this election takes place and the Armed Forces of the Philippines will be there to make sure its done fairly,” said Gonzales.

Meanwhile, Gonzales said that he had asked the Comelec to allow the military to play a more active role in going after loose firearms and goons, which the defense chief said could not be prevented by the automated elections.

“The Commission on Election has told us that the automation system will not completely eliminate deficiencies of our electoral process. They say that automation can correct a lot of things but it cannot address two important problems in our election system and this is on the business of coercing our electorate and in the business of bribing,” he said.

The defense chief then noted that there were so many loose firearms and private armed groups proliferating around the country. “I am of the belief that a heightened level of coercion will be conducted through the use of these firearms and private armies,” he said.

“I am now seeking from the Comelec a deputation to allow the Armed Forces of the Philippines to be active in pursuing goons that will be used or will be used by some of our misguided politicians. Our Armed Forces will not allow our people to be coerced, it is very important that the electoral process remain and be improved,” he said.(PNA) VR

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