Aquinos’ son likely to win Philippine presidency

By Jim Gomez
Associated Press / May 12, 2010

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MANILA — Philippine Senator Benigno Aquino III, whose parents fought to topple a dictatorship, promised yesterday to fulfill his campaign promise to fight corruption as he headed for a landslide victory in the presidential elections.

“I will not only not steal, but I’ll have the corrupt arrested,’’ Aquino, 50, said at a press conference in his first comments since Monday’s polls. Massive corruption has long dogged the Philippines, tainting electoral politics and skimming billions of public funds in a country where a third of the population lives on $1 a day.

Aquino — whose father was assassinated while opposing Ferdinand Marcos’s dictatorship and whose mother, Corazon, led the 1986 “people power’’ revolt that restored democracy — was leading the nine-candidate presidential race with 40.2 percent of the votes from about 78 percent of the precincts, while his closest rival, former president Joseph Estrada, had 25.5 percent.

There is no runoff in the Philippines and whoever has the most votes is declared winner.

Despite glitches with new computerized counting machines and violence that claimed at least 12 lives, election officials hailed Monday’s vote as a success in a country where poll fraud allegations have marred previous contests. Turnout was 75 percent among eligible voters, the Elections Commission said.

In a statement, the US Embassy said it looked forward to a smooth transition to the new government to “deepen the friendship and partnership between our two nations.’’

Filipinos were also voting for a vice president, senators, congressmen, as well as provincial, town, and city officials. Flamboyant former first lady Imelda Marcos won a seat in the House of Representatives. Boxing star Manny Pacquiao was leading in the count for a House seat in the southern province of Sarangani.

To save money, Aquino told the Associated Press, he will avoid foreign trips and trim the Cabinet.