“I guarantee you I have no interest in postponing the elections,” President Aquino declared on Thursday, dismissing talk that Wednesday’s power failure in Metro Manila and many parts of Luzon was a prelude to the scrapping of the elections next Monday.
Elections chief Sixto Brillantes Jr., too, rejected talk that the hours-long outage was a dry run for “No-El,” the opposition code word for “no elections.”
Only God can stop the elections, Brillantes told reporters.
Seven power plants in Luzon (not six as reported on Thursday) tripped one after the other just before 2 p.m. on Wednesday, leading to an outage that plunged Metro Manila, nearby provinces and wide swaths of central and northern Luzon into darkness for the rest of the afternoon. Power was fully restored at 11:50 p.m.
As of Thursday, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), operator of the Luzon power grid, had yet to determine the cause of the massive power failure.
Still not quite recovered from a bout with the flu, President Aquino showed up at his first campaign rally this week in Quezon City and assured voters that the balloting would be held next Monday.
“As to the question that [the power failure] is a dry run for ‘no elections,’ well, you should take note of my voice,” Aquino said, calling attention to his hoarse voice. “I guarantee you, I can swear by any Bible, that I have no interest in postponing this election.”
Aquino assured the public that there will be an adequate power supply on Election Day.
He said the Department of Energy (DOE) had done an inventory to make sure Wednesday’s massive outage would never happen again.
“Because of the inventory, [our energy officials] are more confident that [there will be adequate electricity on] Election Day,” Aquino said.
After a grueling campaign that saw him flying to the countryside several times to endorse his handpicked senatorial candidates, Aquino said he was now looking forward to the postelection period.
“We’re all very eager to get the campaign and election period over with and concentrate on fixing the problems of the country,” he told reporters inside a classroom of Quirino Elementary School on Anonas Street in Quezon City.
At the Commission on Elections (Comelec), Brillantes said not even senatorial candidate Richard Gordon’s urging the Supreme Court to order the postponement of the elections could stop next Monday’s vote.
Act of Congress
Arguing in the Supreme Court on Wednesday, Gordon, a former senator, said the automated elections would most likely be “not clean and honest” because it would be powered by a “dishonest source code.”
But Brillantes said the elections could be postponed only by an act of Congress which, with only three days to go before the nation votes, has no more time to pass a law that would reset the balloting to a later date.
“A postponement is by law. We don’t have the authority to do so, except in specific areas and on specific grounds. Even the Supreme Court will find it difficult to postpone the elections,” Brillantes said.
“If I were asked about it, I would have it postponed until 2016 so that I would no longer be here,” he added.
The Comelec is ready to conduct the elections, Brillantes said.
Power failures will not be a problem, Brillantes said.
The Comelec purchased more than 900 power generators and the agency had an adequate supply of fuel to run them in the event of power failures, he said.
Sen. Franklin Drilon, campaign manager of the administration’s Team PNoy, told reporters after a rally in Quezon City on Thursday that speculation about the cancellation of the elections was good only for sensational news and nothing else.
“That’s an isolated case,” Drilon said, referring to Wednesday’s widespread power failure. “I don’t think it should be any cause for concern [because] the [automated voting] machines have their own batteries, which can [power the machines] for 12 hours. So, absolutely no cause for concern.”
Drilon earlier brushed aside allegations that the administration would manipulate the results of the elections to ensure a clean sweep of the senatorial race by Team PNoy.
“Cheating is out of the equation,” Drilon said.
“This administration never tolerates fraud. Let us not forget that the cleansing of voter lists in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) was made possible on the Aquino watch,” he said.
“If cheating in order to win is our goal, we would not have exercised efforts to remove thousands of ghost voters in the ARMM, where most cases of electoral fraud took place [in the past],” he added.
Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, one of Aquino’s 12 senatorial candidates, said speculation about the elections being canceled was “electrifying as a piece of coffee shop conversation but has no basis in reality.”—With a report from Norman Bordadora