JPE willing to step down if polls fail

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said yesterday he is willing to step down to give way for a smooth transition of power in the upper chamber if there is no election on May 10.

“Sa May 11 malalaman natin kung walang halalan,” the Senate chief said in a radio interview. “Ako mismo ang mananawagan bilang Senate President, pupulungin ko ‘yung mga nasa Senate at pag-uusapan namin ‘yan at kung sino man ang may gusto at susuportahan ng nakararami roon sa mga maiiwan ay kusang-loob kong ibibigay ang pwesto.”

But Enrile quickly added that talks about failure of elections and fears of leadership vacuum are purely speculations at this point.

“Sigurado ako na magkakaroon ng halalan. Hindi ko alam ‘yung iba diyan kung bakit sila nangangamba na walang halalan,” explained Enrile, who is seeking a re-election under the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP). “Panay kuru-kuro iyan.”

There have been suggestions to select a new Senate leader among the senators serving until 2013 to ensure the survival of the duly constituted government in the event of a failure of the May 10 polls.

The country, some camps claimed, is facing an “unprecedented” political situation stemming from a possible vacuum in leadership after June 30, when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Vice President Noli De Castro, Enrile and House Speaker Prospero Nograles step down from the office.

If there is no el Binay: LGUs can help improve state of education ection in May, the veteran legislator said the Senate and the House of Representatives will do their duties to address the problem within 59 days or by the time their term expires.

The PMP senatorial also allayed fears of a possible military takeover, saying, “It will never happen. There is always a civilian in the government. Andiyan ang Department of Defense, Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government plus the National Police… They will be the one to defend the country and the commander-in-chief and the executive will be the one to lead the country.”

Enrile reiterated that he would hand over the leadership to whoever is elected by his colleagues if he is not chosen as Senate President after June 30 “para magkaroon ng smooth transition of power through the succession process na nasasaad sa Saligang Batas. Walang problema iyon.”

He, however, said that he cannot step down from his office now, amidst calls for a change in Senate Leadership, because “I have also a responsibility to the people that elected me to the position of Senate President… I have to consult them because they have an interest in this position… The fact is we must wait for the happening of the event before we lose our head.”#