No order to set up junta if election fails: Philippine military

18:38, April 19, 2010      

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The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has not received any order from Defense Secretary Noberto Gonzales to put up a military junta in the event there is a failure of the presidential election next month, AFP public affairs office chief said on Monday.

Lt. Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos made the remarks after civil society leader Pastor "Boy" Saycon claimed that Gonzales had been meeting with battalion commanders, telling them to prepare for the failure of elections.

Saycon said Gonzales had been unusually seeing the battalion commanders to order them to be on high alert for such a scenario. He said Gonzales' last meeting with the battalion commanders was in Cagayan de Oro City and these would be replicated in Central Luzon.

"We have not received any directive to that effect," said Burgos, referring to the Saycon's insinuation that Gonzales wanted a military junta if the presidential election fails.

"We are continuing with our efforts for us to have peaceful elections but we never consider that (military junta). We have not received any directive (to put up a junta). I don't know where Pastor Boy Saycon got his information,"Burgos added.

Saycon, of the Council for Philippine Affairs, is supporting the presidential bid of Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.

Told that Saycon claimed that he got his information from his military sources, Burgos said: "We know nothing about it. There is no such thing."

AFP chief Gen. Delfin Bangit has been busy making rounds around military camps and installations for the past weeks to check on the security preparations of the field units for the coming polls, Burgos said.

"He talked to the troops to check on their preparations for the elections so that we would be able to protect the sanctity and integrity of the ballot this coming May polls. We are preparing before and even after the elections," he said.

Gonzales has admitted meeting with the battalion commanders but belied telling them to put up a junta. He said his meetings were on the invitation of the battalion commanders. He described Saycon as having a "very fertile imagination."

When asked if the Department of National Defense chief's meetings with the battalion commanders were irregular, Burgos said that what he knows is that Bangit is usually with Gonzales in those meetings.

"Once the SND (secretary of national defense) go to an area, all commanders available have to be there customarily..Once a commander or a top official visit an area, the (field) commanders have to be there, that's a protocol," he said.

Last month, talks swirled that the military will install a junta if there is a failure of the presidential election. Also, congressman Rufus Rodriguez said that Bangit may keep President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in power beyond June 30 if no president is proclaimed.

Source: Xinhua


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