Aquino: to be proclaimed Philippine President

MANILA, Philippines – Benigno Aquino will on Wednesday be proclaimed the next president of the Philippines after he achieved one of the most emphatic election wins in the Southeast Asian nation’s history.

Aquino crushed his rivals in last month’s election after promising to tackle the massive corruption and deep poverty that pervade the sprawling archipelago of more than 90 million people.

The 50-year-old bachelor also deftly used the enormous public support for his democracy hero parents, who remain revered for their efforts in ending the 20-year dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.

Aquino secured just over 15.2 million votes, or nearly 42 percent of the total number cast, according to final results released by parliament on Tuesday following the May 10 election.

Former president Joseph Estrada finished well back in second place with nearly 9.5 million votes.

A joint session of parliament is due to convene on Wednesday at 2:00 pm (0600 GMT) to formally ratify the results and proclaim Aquino the Philippines’ 15th president.

He will begin his six years in office on June 30, taking over from the unpopular Gloria Arroyo, who is required by constitutional term limits to step down.

Reflecting the Philippines’ chaotic brand of democracy, legislators said that Wednesday’s proclamation proceedings could drag on for hours, with members of parliament allowed to voice their opinions.

“Those who want to speak against it will speak against it. (Then) we will call for a vote,” House of Representatives Speaker Prospero Nograles said after ballot counting finished on Tuesday.

Nograles said he expected the proclamation to occur by 6:00 pm (1000 GMT).

Ironically, Estrada had the record for the biggest win in recent Philippine political history when he triumphed in the 1998 elections with 39 percent of the total votes.

He was ousted three years later, just half way through his term, amid allegations of corruption for which he was later convicted.

But although his re-election bid failed, securing nearly 10 million votes offered the 73-year-old some form of personal redemption.

For Aquino, victory is another chapter in his family’s dramatic political story.

His father, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, was shot dead in 1983 at Manila airport as he returned from US exile to lead the democracy movement against Marcos.

His mother, Corazon Aquino, took over from her martyred husband and led the “People Power” revolution that eventually toppled Marcos in 1986. She then served as president for six years.

Her death from cancer last August triggered a massive outpouring of support for the family that turned the son from a low-key politician to presidential frontrunner.

Aquino, an economics graduate, has said that fighting corruption, improving the economy and bridging the enormous wealth divide will be among his top priorities.

He has vowed to boost foreign investment, rein in wasteful government spending, improve the civil service and invest in education.

But his Liberal Party will be hamstrung in its efforts to implement reforms after its choice for the vice presidency, Mar Roxas, lost.

Estrada’s running mate, Jejomar Binay, won the vice presidential contest and could potentially be a destabilising force for Aquino.

The Liberal Party will also not have a majority in either house of parliament.

Arroyo’s Lakas Kampi CMD coalition will remain powerful in parliament, and the outgoing president won a seat in the lower house, where she could lead opposition to Aquino.

(Read more on AFP and Yahoo! Philippines News)

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