Philippine Military Fissures as May Election Nears
Mar. 23, 2010 (LPAC)–With a presidential election coming on May 10, Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Jesus Verzosa set off a firestorm on March 10 when he was asked about the threat that President Gloria Arroyo and her newly appointed chum as head of the Army, Gen. Delfin Bangit, may use the (very great) potential for a failed election to keep Arroyo in power beyond the legal June 30 limit. Verzosa replied: “According the the Constitution, we must have a new president after June 30. We will not support any unconstitutional acts.”
The press headlined this discussion: “PNP chief: I won’t support Bangit if…,” and the fur began to fly. President Arroyo skipped the Police graduation ceremonies, and failed to acknowledge his presence at Philippine Army Day ceremonies, all taken by observers to be a snub. Bangit is a member of the 1978 class at the Philippine Military Academy, which has granted President Arroyo an honorary membership, and is viewed as the clique most likely to support a move to keep her in office. Army chief Bangit huffed out of a press conference when asked about the conflict with the Police chief.
The “failed election” scenario is not a long shot in the Philippines, where election corruption is endemic. Arroyo’s 2004 election theft was made infamous by the release of a tape of her colluding with an election official arranging the final vote totals — a compliant Congress and Courts and saved her from impeachment. New, untested electronic voting machines being installed for the May election are made to order for either fraud or post election chaos.
President Arroyo hopes to avoid indictment for her crimes, even if she can not stay in power, by running for Congress even while she finishes her term, thus hoping to retain parliamentary immunity.