The latest news stories from the major news organizations in Cebu and Manila in the Philippines, the US and other countries.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

May 10, 2010 Major News Stories



All set for the vote

MANILA, Philippines - All is set for today's automated elections.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday reported that preparations for the country's first fully automated elections were 98 percent complete.

Comelec Chairman Jose Melo said the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines as well as the reconfigured compact flash (CF) cards that would be used in today's elections have all been delivered to their designated polling precincts across the country.

"We have all the reason to smile because all the CF cards, ballot boxes and the PCOS machines are already in place in voting places," Melo said at a news conference yesterday.

With only hours to go before the actual voting, Melo said the testing and sealing of the PCOS machines had not yet been completed.

"The testing and sealing in the entire Luzon are already 98 to 99 percent complete," Melo said.

He said the remaining two percent was due to difficulty in reaching remote polling precincts in Tineg, Abra and some barangays in Ilocos Sur located in the mountains.

Melo said some PCOS machines that were delivered earlier had to be replaced because of some technical problems.

He said the Comelec was also addressing problems in connection with clustering some precincts in Mindanao.

"Even with the problem of clustering, we are already prepared for the conduct of polls in Mindanao, including Basilan where officials reported 70 percent completion of work," Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento added.

Even the province of Maguindanao and Bukidnon is already 100 percent prepared for the elections, Sarmiento said.

"Our preparations are on track and we expect to complete the preparations before elections."

Sarmiento said some of PCOS machines that were destroyed by suspected communist rebels in Mindanao and Iloilo were immediately replaced.

"Based from the report from our people on the ground the testing and sealing is almost 70 to 75 percent complete as of last night," Sarmiento said.

The worst scenario that the Comelec could foresee is that two percent of the over 76,000 polling precincts would not receive new CF cards, but that is even better than the previous projection of five percent, he said.

Melo explained the voting in some precincts would proceed even without CF cards but the counting would be done after the last vote has been cast.

Areas that have yet to receive the CF cards include Northern Samar, the town of Tineg in Abra and Nueva Vizcaya, where there are less than million voters.

Smartmatic spokesman Cezar Flores said around 60 to 70 percent of votes are expected to be counted by election night and the rest within 36 hours.

Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC) would be getting initial election results but a ladderized canvassing has to be observed.

High turnout expected

A record high number of voters are expected to troop to polling precincts nationwide to participate in the country's first automated elections.

The Comelec said they are expecting some 50,850,938 registered voters to go out.

"We expect a good number of about 80 to 85 percent turnout of voters in today's elections," Sarmiento said.

Sarmiento pointed out that in the 2007 elections, Comelec recorded only about 70 percent turnout with 64 percent in the 2004 elections.

"But since this is a presidential elections and this is the first automated polls in the country, we see higher turnout of voters," Sarmiento said.

Larrazabal, for his part, assured the public that all efforts were exerted to address all the problems and ensure orderly and successful elections.

Larrazabal reminded voters to choose their candidates wisely and not to vote in excess of the required number of candidates in the position so as not to spoil the ballot.

"Also come early to voting places and shade the whole oval (properly)," Larrazabal pointed out.

Melo also advised voters to come prepared with their list of candidates.

"There could be long lines of voters so please go to polling places early. Don't sell your votes or allow candidates and supporters to threaten you. Let us keep this election as clean as possible," Melo stressed.

Some 230,000 public school teachers who would be serving as Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) have also prepared for the elections today.

Education Secretary Mona Dumlao-Valisno said the teachers are excited, as well as apprehensive, about their new poll duties.

"It will be a historic day as we hold our first ever automated elections. It's something we're looking forward to with excitement," Valisno said.

She said the initial reports from the teachers from all over the country that helped in the testing and resealing of the PCOS machines had been encouraging.

Valisno said the teachers reported the testing and resealing the PCOS machines had been successful.

"There are no more worries. It has given a big, big relief to our teachers," Valisno said.

"We have been preparing for this for a long time and I am confident of the readiness of our BEIs in the different clustered precincts across the country," she said.

Benjamin Basas, leader of a federation of teachers groups nationwide, said the final testing and sealing of the PCOS machines were "generally successful."

"There were a few isolated cases where the PCOS machines encountered problems but these were few and minor issues," Basas said.

Basas, who himself will head a BEI in a precinct in Caloocan City, said that with the delivery and testing of the PCOS machines, the public school teachers are now ready to perform their new tasks.

"While we know we are ready, many teachers are still nervous of things that may go wrong, of PCOS machines that may fail to work properly. We are nervous of course, (but) we're excited also to have a major role in this historic event," Basas said.

Education department spokesman Jonathan Malaya said the teachers have been instructed to call the Comelec operations centers for any problem regarding the PCOS machines.

Malaya said the Comelec has committed to provide a technician for every clustered precinct on election day.

No delaying tactic

With the automated elections, Comelec Commissioner Nicodemus Ferrer said the Comelec is expecting fewer electoral protests since the results would be more accurate.

"We don't really expect wide discrepancies in the counting of votes that is why we are also expecting fewer election protest this time," Ferrer said.

Ferrer also assured the public that the Comelec would conduct random manual audit in selected polling precincts to verify election results.

Ferrer said candidates could avail of the results of random manual audit in filing their complaint although it might not be practical in the sense that there would be no discrepancy in the results of the random manual audit and electronically transmitted canvassing.

The Comelec ruled out the filing of any pre-proclamation protest in order to prevent delay in the counting and proclamation of winners.

The Comelec said the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC) would not entertain any manifestation or opposition in the results unless a petition or manifestation is submitted.

If there would be a written manifestation or petition, the NBOC would determine whether there is a proper cause of action on the grounds of discrepancy, incompleteness, erasure or alteration of results.

The NBOC could automatically defer the canvass of the contested certificate of canvass within 24 hours following the filing of manifestation should there be probable cause.

To ensure an effective and uninterrupted transmission of results, the Comelec directed the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to deploy information technology (IT) experts to the National Data Centers.

The Comelec has deputized the DOST "to make available its IT capable personnel to provide technical support/assistance in the National Data Centers."

The Comelec has established the National Data Centers with the following servers for the transmission of the election results that included the Comelec central server, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KPB), and a backup server.

All systems go for May 10 - DepEd

All systems are go for the May 10 elections, as the 229,020 teacher-members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) are ready to ensure the success of the country"s first automated polls, the Department of Education (DepEd) said on Sunday.

Winners known early Tuesday

THERE will be no proclamation today. But expect that results will come in fast, especially compared to the past elections, said Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesperson James Jimenez.

"For local candidates, that (same-day proclamation) might not be possible. They may be proclaimed very, very early the following day, around 2 to 3 a.m.," said Jimenez.

He explained, though, that the process will be continuous.

Before, when the votes were counted manually, the Board of Election Inspectors often had to wait until 6 a.m. the day after the elections before they could report anything. It usually took them until early morning to finish the precinct-level count.

Polling places open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. But Jimenez said these are expected to close by 7 or 8 p.m. to accommodate those who are still in line and within 30 meters of the precinct by 6 p.m.

After the polls close, transmission won't start right away, because there are still "attendance ceremonies."

This is when all those who will get copies of the election returns will be convened. Among them are the watchers of the dominant majority party, watchers of the dominant minority party and the citizens' arm.

"These are long documents that take some time to print," explained Jimenez. The recipients have to sign receipts for their copies of the returns.

Transmission may start by 8 p.m. But Jimenez gave allowances and admitted it may take some time.

He estimated it will take between six and 12 hours to complete the transmission from all precincts to the municipal canvassing centers.

Around the same time, results are also expected to be reported to the Comelec website.

As a best-case scenario, municipal winners may be proclaimed by 2 a.m.


Vote buying in Cebu reported

CEBU CITY, Philippines An attempt to buy votes in southern Cebu was foiled by the military when they chanced upon a village chief and councilman carrying bundles of small bills attached to the sample ballots of the pro-administration One Cebu slate, in Dumanjug town, some 73.3 kilometers southwest of Cebu City.

Aside from two large bundles of P20 bills, there were also several envelopes containing P150 (3 pieces of P50 bills) and sample ballots bearing the names of Lakas-Kampi presidential candidate Gilbert Teodoro, Nacionalista Party vice-presidential bet Loren Legarda, and senatorial candidates down to the local candidates of One Cebu headed by reelectionist Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia.

Senior Insp. Rodrigo Giangan, chief of the Dumanjug Police, said the team of the Philippine Army headed by Lt. Lavrenet Meriales of the 78th Infantry Battalion was on foot patrol in Barangay Canghumawod at 2:20 p.m. on Saturday when they noticed two persons sitting on a bamboo bench.

Giangan said Meriales noticed the P20 bills in two bundles placed inside a plastic bag. The two identified themselves as Canghumawod barangay chairman Herminigildo Edimne and his councilman Felix Calago.

They later found out that the two were carrying more money inside a bag that also contained the One Cebu sample ballots, said Giangan.

Edimne was later brought by Mariales to the police station of Dumanjug for more questioning and inventory of the items in his possession.

Based on the inventory report read by Giangan, the two had 110 white envelopes, each containing three pieces of P50 bills or P150 and sample ballots bearing the names of One Cebu candidates from national and local positions.

The sample ballots contained the names of Gilbert Teodoro for president, Loren Legarda for vice-president, senatorial candidates Estrada, Remulla, Guico, Sotto, Tamano, Revilla, Cayetano, Tatad, Lapid, Drilon, Enrile and Marcos; Pablo Garcia for congressman in the second district; Gwendolyn Garcia for governor; Glenn Soco for vice-governor; Calderon and Caminero for board members; Nelson Garcia for mayor; Rodrigo Pan for vice-mayor; and eight candidates for councilors in Dumanjug.

There were two bundles of P20 bills and each bundle contained 50 pieces of P20 bills.

A sticker with the name Belinda Quirante for councilor was placed alongside the 20-peso bill in one bundle, while the sticker of Cardo Condes for councilor was also placed in each of the 20-peso bill in another bundle.

Another 50 sample ballots containing the name of Iluminado Perales for councilor, stapled with P20 bill, were also found, Giangan said.

Giangan said they also found two yellow pads containing the names of 125 individuals.

Giangan refused to comment if the names were those of voters supposed to get the money.

Giangan said Edimne said a local candidate gave him the items, but Giangan said they no longer asked who the local candidate was.

Giangan said he and the soldiers decided to release the barangay chairman but the seized items were placed in the custody of the Dumanjug police.

With just barely a day before the elections, hundreds of passengers scrambled for boat rides back to their provinces at the Cebu port.

There were many, however, who admitted voting for the money.

A group of passengers bound for Jetafe, Bohol, were overheard talking that in their town, a group of candidates has been giving P1,500 per voter.

A female factory worker in Mactan Export Zone said she was asked to go home to vote for her relatives who were candidates for mayor and vice-mayor in Buenavista, Bohol.

But I would really ask for a refund (for my boat fare), she said in Cebuano.

As early as 5 a.m. Sunday, passengers were already waiting at the ticket offices of inter-island vessels and motorboats in Pier 1 and 3 in Cebu City.

At Pier 1, around 1,000 passengers were waiting outside the ticketing office of the Clemer motor banca, plying the Cebu City to Jetafe, Bohol route.

As of noon, around 200 passengers were still waiting to get tickets.

Commander Anelito Gabisan, chief of staff of the Coast Guard District Central Eastern Visayas, said the Philippine Coast Guard has been on heightened alert because of the influx of passengers since Friday.

Gabisan said most of the passengers were bound for Bohol, Southern Leyte and Leyte.

The port in Danao City in northern Cebu was also flooded with passengers going to Camotes Island.

They really wanted to vote," Gabisan said.

Gabisan said the shipping companies were allowed not to follow their usual schedules because of the influx of huge number of passengers.

If a certain vessel was already filled to the allowed capacity, the vessel could sail ahead of its schedule.

Gabisan said this practice has been allowed through the flag-state advisory 38 of the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA). The advisory is issued for the peak-season of the shipping industry.

Gabisan said Coast Guard detachments, however, were ordered to strictly check the exact capacity of the vessels and to avoid allowing vessels to sail with excess passengers.

Tanod hurt in Bogo strafing

BOGO CITY—Despite tight preparations to ensure peaceful elections today, two barangay officials in the fourth district of Cebu Province were victimized in two attacks yesterday.

Crisanto Ochea, 54, chief of tanods in Barangay Cayang in Bogo City, was hit thrice in the back when unidentified assailants attacked at dawn, firing a hail of bullets at his house.

Ochea dropped to the floor from his bed, but the bullets still hit him. He survived.

PO3 Allan Dosdos of the Bogo City Police Station said 50 empty shells were found scattered across Ochea's house—16 of them from M-16 and M-14 rifles.

Junifer Agdon, one of Ochea's tanods, told reporters that the assault may have been politically-motivated, as the chief tanod is a known supporter of Bogo City Mayor Celestino "Junie" Martinez Jr. and his family.

Agdon revealed Ochea had previous trouble with supporters of rival mayoral candidate Mariquita Salimbangon-Yeung and her brother, congressional candidate Benhur
Salimbangon.

Congressional candidate Celestino "Tining" Martinez III, in a separate interview, asked the Armed Forces to secure the city, saying he believes the police has failed to keep the peace.

Salimbangon denied allegations that his nephew orchestrated the attack.

Tabuelan

Just hours after the attack on Ochea, a group of political supporters who were surrounding the house of a barangay captain were shot at by three men, identified as supporters of a rival candidate.

Carlito Rondina Jr., 27, village chief of Barangay Kanluhangon, told reporters that while he was meeting with supporters, six men came to his compound and tried to threaten them by brandishing high-powered firearms.

Rondina is supporting mayoral candidate Raul Gerona.

He accused three men allegedly allied with Raul's rival, his brother Rex, namely Oscarito Gulbin, Leonilo Lequigan Jr. and Ramil Baring, of being behind the attack.

Rondina also identified the motorcycle used by the three men as belonging to Deolito Almonacin, Cantubaon barangay captain and president of Tabuelan's Association of Barangay Captains.

Police raided Almonacin's house last Friday on suspicion there were guns there. He was not around when the raid was carried out, but nine persons were arrested after they were caught in the presence of high-powered firearms.

Police and military officials led by Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Lani-O Nerez and Cebu Provincial Police Director Erson Digal, conducted an on-sight investigation in Barangay Cantubaon.

But the investigation turned into a pursuit operation, as police found "suspicious characters" near the barangay captain's house and a .45 caliber pistol inside a barangay vehicle.

Despite the incidents, Commission on Election (Comelec) 7 Assistant Director Lionel Castillano said the poll body cannot formally declare the fourth District under
Comelec control.

However, Nerez and Digal assured yesterday a tight watch will be kept, especially in Bogo and Tabuelan.

Insp. Florendo Fajardo, Tabuelan Police Chief, said no one was hurt in his town's incident.

Dumanjug

Also yesterday, a barangay captain and his councilor were brought in for questioning at the Dumanjug Police Station after soldiers conducting a foot patrol chanced upon them with bags of cash.

Police plan to refer the case of Canghumaod Barangay Captain Germinigildo Edimne and barangay councilor Felix Calago to the election officer of Dumanjug.

The two were caught with a transparent bag of cash, sample ballots bearing the names of One Cebu candidates and envelopes, each containing P150.

While they admitted that an independent candidate for municipal councilor gave it to them, they did not identify the candidate.

1Lt. Laurente Meriales of Central Command was with a team of soldiers conducting the patrols past 1:15 p.m.

When they reached Edimne's house, they noticed Edimne and Calago sitting on a bamboo bench outside. When the soldiers looked closely, they saw bundles of cash in a transparent bag.

Meriales and the team brought them to the Dumanjug Police Station for questioning.

One Cebu Dumanjug mayoral candidate Nelson Garcia said he had no hand in the alleged distribution of sample ballots with cash.

"It's a political gimmick from my opponents," said Garcia. "You can expect more (gimmicks) tomorrow and the next day."

18 arrested for violating liquor ban in Manila, C. Visayas

More than a dozen people were arrested early Sunday morning for violating the liquor ban being implemented in connection with Mondays local and national automated elections.

Police reports said 10 were arrested in Manila while eight others were nabbed in Central Visayas.

In Central Visayas, those arrested were Dominador Savite, 18; Romenic Jakosalem, 31; Jimmy Arsaga, 47; Glenn Genoza, 26; and Ramonito Arsaga, 42, all of Kalubihan, Cebu City; and Michael Vincent Marzado, 25, from Toledo City; Edilberto Omega Jr., 29, from Hipodromo, Cebu City; and Camilo Aninikop, 29, of Lapu-Lapu City.

All police units nationwide were ordered to strictly implement Commission on Elections (Comelec) Resolution 8730 or the rules and regulations governing the liquor ban in connection with Mondays elections.

Until the liquor ban is lifted, the Philippine National Police will strictly enforce this election law," said PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Leonardo Espina in a statement Sunday.

The liquor ban, which took effect 12:01 a.m. Sunday, will be implemented until Monday midnight.

Calm a day before elections -- PNP

MANILA, Philippines -- Despite the sporadic election-related clashes in the provinces, the peace and order situation around the country has been normal on the eve of the historic nationwide automated voting, according to the Philippine National Police.

Even President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo expressed confidence that the Armed Forces and the PNP could contain whatever violence that might arise in Mondays elections, PNP Director General Jesus Verzosa said.

Everything is a go tomorrow (Monday), Verzosa said in a news briefing at Camp Crame, on Sunday

He said the President convened the National Security Council on Saturday to give her last-minute instructions to state forces tasked to secure the voting centers.

Yes, she was concerned about that. But she also commended our efforts (against) private armed groups, Verzosa replied when asked if Ms Arroyo took note of the recent skirmishes between state forces and suspected private armies of local candidates.

The President was confident that the triumvirate of the PNP, the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines and Comelec (Commission on Elections) could manage the peace and order situation on election day, he said.

According to the PNP chief, Ms Arroyo also expressed her trust in the capability of the Comelec in ensuring the success of the P7.2-billion computerized balloting.

For the nth time, Verzosa said the 130,000-strong PNP has strongly committed to protect the sanctity of the elections and fight off any attempt to subvert the May 10 voting.

We should not be alarmist. Instead, we all should be optimistic that everything will go as planned and that we will have a new set of leaders after the elections, he said.

PNP: Election violence lower compared to past polls

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – Election-related violence in the runup to the May 10 polls is down this year compared to the last two nationwide polls, the Philippine National Police said Sunday.

Metro police ready for nationwide polls

The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Sunday said it was ready for the conduct of the first automated election Monday, even as it announced the activation of the Regional Media Center (RMC).

NCRPO Spokesperson Senior Supt. Rommel Miranda said RMC will help all media persons monitor the events related to the elections in Metro Manila.

Miranda said NCRPO will be monitoring the conduct of the elections using high technology. He said that the RMC will give media representatives the latest and update reports on the election.

The RMC will be open 24 hours to give updates of events starting from the casting of votes to the counting, for national as well as for local candidates, he said.

Miranda said that aside from the activation of the RMC, the 15,000-strong policemen from the NCRPO have been deployed to five police districts in Metro Manila to help augment forces and ensure orderly and peaceful conduct of election.

He said that all NCRPO heads will also be present at the RMC to ensure policemen are performing their duties to ensure the peaceful and orderly conduct of elections.

Meanwhile, over 600 additional police and military personnel were deployed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to beef up security for the elections in Abra.

Chief Supt. Villamor Bumanglad, regional director of the Police Regional Office (PRO) in the Cordillera, said the additional deployment shows the determination of the PNP and AFP to ensure the conduct of peaceful and orderly elections in the province and to neutralize activities of erring politicians who refuse to abide by their commitment to keep the polls clean.

Bumanglad said 280 policemen from the PRO-COR were already deployed to various parts of the province to intensify anti-criminality and peacekeeping efforts while the 350 soldiers from the AFP's 5th Infantry Division based in Gamo, Isabela, will be used as augmentation force in upland towns where communist rebels operate.

Overall, there are at least 2,000 police and military personnel now deployed in the province.

Maj. Gen. Rommel Gomez, commanding officer of the AFP's 5th Infantry Division, said the soldiers will be deployed in identified rebel-infested areas, especially in the upland communities in order to neutralize their alleged collection of permit to campaign or permit to win fees.

Gomez said military will only support security measures outlined by the PNP in the province. (Dexter A. See)

5,000 cops to secure Region 7 poll centers

The Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 announced that security measures are in place and that over 5,000 policemen will be deployed in Central Visayas region.

PRO 7 Director Lani-O Nerez personally inspected various areas in Central Visayas to ensure that the security measures are fully implemented to maintain peace and order during the polls.

During the final joint conference by the PNP, AFP, and the Comelec last Saturday, Nerez said policemen would be properly deployed and police action centers set in place to assist and protect voters.

Nerez said vital installations, including bridges, communication towers, cell sites, would be secured with additional forces.

The AFP has sent soldiers to assist the police in securing the polling precincts, especially those located in mountain barangays and in areas penetrated or formerly infiltrated by the New People's Army (NPA).

At least 39 areas in Central Visayas have been identified as election hotspots due to their history of election-related violence and intense political rivalry while 35 others are considered insurgency hotspots, Central Command Chief Lt. Gen. Ralph Villanueva earlier said.

Earlier, Bogo City and the towns of Carmen, Cordova, Tabuelan, Sta. Fe and San Francisco in

Camotes Island were also included in the Comelec's Category 1 watch list.

Canlaon, Tanjay and Bayawan cities and Himalalod, Tayasan, Bacong and Basay of Negros Oriental are also placed in the same category.

In Bohol, only the city of Tagbilaran and the town of Trinidad were placed under Category 1.

In Davao City, Task Force Davao has been reinforced with more soldiers, the military here said.

Major Gen. Carlos Holganza, commander of the 10th Infantry Division based at Camp Apolinario in Panacan, said that there will be added visibility of soldiers in the area and all actions will be coordinated with the Comelec and the police.

"We just have to follow and are ready to do the mission," Holganza said.

He said changing the leadership of the military and the police during crunch time would be a challenge because the new sets of officers coming in are unfamiliar with the area.

Col. Oscar Lactao, commanding officer of Task Force Davao, said that they were still waiting for the written order putting the city under Comelec control, but they are always willing to take orders from the poll agency.

Supt. Antonio Rivera, chief of the Investigation and Detection Management Service and spokesperson of the Davao City Police Office, echoed Lactao's sentiments, saying they will follow whatever directive the higher authorities give. (Mars Mosqueda Jr. and Nef Luczon)

1 dead, 9 hurt in blast inside N. Cotabato mosque

KIDAPAWAN CITY A person was killed while nine others were wounded in North Cotabato province in yet another violent incident on the eve of the countrys first nationwide automated elections.

Police identified the fatality as Manuel Pautin, an Imam (Muslim priest) who died on the spot when a grenade exploded inside the mosque at Sitio Tinibtiban in Barangay Batulawan in the town of Pikit.

Injured in the explosion, which occurred about 7:15 p.m. Sunday, were Abdullah Muhammad Ali, 28; Ansari Edris, 38; Solaiman Kalim, 64; Ibrahim Badrudin, 67; Kison Palalisan, 72; Datukan Akmad, 40; Sindatuk Sangkay, 52; Johnny Oboy Matalam, 50, and Norodin Hamsa, 48.


Of those injured, Matalam was severely hit and was transferred to the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center in Cotabato City for further medical treatment, according to Inspector Bernard Tayong, chief of Pikit Police.

Tayong said the victims were doing the traditional sambayang" (Muslim worship) inside the mosque when the explosion happened.

The other casualties were brought to the Cruzado Hospital and Kabacan Medical Specialist Hospital in nearby Kabacan town.

The Explosives and Ordnance Disposal Team of the 6th Infantry Division based in Midsayap town was dispatched in the area to conduct further investigation.

Tayong said investigators have yet to determine the motive behind the attack, but Jay Mamasabulod, a relative of one of those hit in the explosion, believed the incident had something to do with the elections.

(UPDATE) 3 dead, 6 wounded in Antique shootout

MANILA, Philippines - Three suspected members of a private army of a local candidate were killed while six others were wounded in a shootout with police at a checkpoint early dawn today.

Killed in the encounter with policemen were Rogelio Pagsuguiran, Edgar Magtulis, Efraim Pagharion, reportedly supporters of Gil Bandoja, a candidate for mayor of Tibiao town, police said.

Meanwhile, the wounded suspects were identified as Federico Eraga Jr., 45, of Tibiao, Antique; Peruno Leandro, 49, of Dingle, Iloilo; Eleazar Pagharion, of Tibiao, Antique; Edward Lucenia, 30; Andresito Bandoja 42; and Arnulfo Miguel , 68, also of Tibiao town.

They were rushed by authorities to the Angel Salazar Memorial Hospital in San Jose, Antique.

Initial report showed that the armed men on board a black Nissan Frontier and a maroon Nissan pick up truck fired on the police personnel manning a checkpoint around 3 a.m. at Sitio Calaogan, Brgy. Poblacion, Tibiao, Antique.

Police also nabbed other suspects - Klement Bandoja, 29; Vicente Hilario, 49; Peter Jay Molina, Frank Espanola, Johnirie Pagharion, 33; and Roswald Malabor, 49 - who were on board the vehicles.

Authorities recovered from the suspects four cal. 45 pistols and a hand grenade.

2 hurt in Bukidnon ambush

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – An incident of election-related violence broke out in Bukidnon Saturday night. At around 11 p.m., 2 supporters of re-electionist and incumbent Dangcagan Mayor Edilberto Ayuban were wounded in an ambush.

Mayoralty bet in Oriental Mindoro abducted on eve of elections

A mayoralty candidate in a town in Oriental Mindoro was seized Sunday by armed men on the eve of election day, a military official said.

Provincial military commander Col. Carlos Quita told GMANews.TV that Erwin Maravilla, the incumbent vice mayor of San Teodoro town, was seized by four motorcycle-riding men in a highway in the town about 8:30 p.m. Sunday.

The suspects, wearing bonnets, reportedly halted Maravillas car and smashed its glass windows before abducting the victim, Quita said.

Maravilla's two aides were tied up according to Quita, but it is unclear whether they were also abducted.

The suspects scampered towards the municipality of Baco when a civilian in a motorcycle approached the scene.

No suspects or motives have been identified yet, but Quita said the abduction is likely" to be politically motivated. He added the local police and military are now conducting pursuit operations.

Maravilla is running as town mayor under Liberal Party against Lakas-Kampi-CMDs Apollo Feraren. 

I-button problems in ARMM

from mb.com.ph

A town in Abra, Nueva Vizcaya, Iloilo, and some areas in Autonomous Region on Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) are still faced with perennial problems on the poll machines and other election-related jitters but voters there can cast votes in Monday's automated elections, an official said.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Jose Melo said two percent of the entire areas nationwide may encounter problems come election day not only because of the delayed testing and sealing of poll machines but also its i-buttons malfunctioning.

"The entire Luzon from Batanes to Sorsogon is doing good except for Nueva Vizcaya where problem is not with regard to the compact flash cards but the i-buttons of the (voting machines)," Melo told reporters at the PICC national board of canvassers.

He added that even without the testing and sealing of machines, registered voters can still go out and cast their votes.

I-buttons is used by the board of election inspectors (BEIs) in order for them to have access on the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines. It is a key to activate the menu.

Smarmatic Spokesperson Cesar Flores confirmed reports that the poll machines' i-buttons are not working so they have to be replaced on election day, saying that they are sending new buttons now to the province.

"That does not affect the accuracy of the machines, but are needed to start the machines. We have lifted it already in Vizcaya...there will be air assets to help distribute to precincts in Vizcaya," said Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal, head of the poll body's steering committee.

With this, at least a million voters or less will be affected among the problematic areas, Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said.

In Northern Samar and Abra, Sarmiento said the poll body is yet to deliver election paraphernalia in the towns of Villabos and Tinig, respectively, since these places were "historically problematic and inaccessible areas."

In Marawi City, the issue on clustering precincts has hampered the preparations of Comelec in the automated elections.

A problem earlier arose in the town of Miag-ao, Iloilo where five PCOS machines were burned by the alleged members of the New People's Army (NPA).

"The problems on these machines are being addressed. Yes, they were destroyed but spare machines are being deployed. These PCOS machines are replaceable," Sarmiento added.

Rivals' supporters fight over PCOS location

Army soldiers on Sunday had to keep apart supporters of rival mayoral candidates in Buldon, Maguindanao who were "haggling and fighting" about where the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines should be located, according to foreign observers who witnessed the commotion. The machines had just been delivered by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Involved in the incident were supporters of candidate Faith Ruth Pembayabaya Tata" Tomawis of the Aksyon party and those of independent candidate Ibrahim Manalao Oting" Tucas, the Compact International Observers Mission (IOM), a group of 18 foreign observes from the US, Asia, and Europe, said in a preliminary report.

"One group wanted the PCOS machines to be set up inside the schools, while another group wanted to set up the machines outside of the Department of Education building," according to the Compact-IOMs report.

In an interview with GMANews.TV, Emman Hizon of the Compact-IOM said some people from the unruly crowd repeatedly kicked one PCOS machine and permanently damaged it.

The Comelec delivered on Sunday 28 PCOS machines for 25 polling precincts in Buldon town in Maguindanao province.

Hizon added Smartmatic-TIM has yet to decide whether to replace the damaged PCOS machine.

Of the 28, three were supposed to be spare machines.

"One of the groups contended that members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) are not teachers, creating doubts as to their neutrality," the report said.

Poll partisans destroy voting machine in Maguindanao

COTABATO CITY, Philippines Unidentified men believed to be supporters of local candidates in Buldon, Maguindanao, destroyed a vote scanning and counting machine while it was being transported to a voting center Sunday noon, police here said.
Supt. Alex Lineses, chief of the Maguindanao police, said the precinct count optical scanning (PCOS) machine was being transported by members of the Board of Election Inspectors at past 12 noon when a group of men grabbed the machine from the BEIs and destroyed it.

Army Colonel Ernesto Aradanas, 603rd Army brigade chief, is now talking with local candidates to come up with an agreement that PCOS should not be destroyed by their supporters or they will be dealt with accordingly, according to Lineses.

One of the mayoral candidates whom Lineses did not identify had been complaining that the election officer, Hakeem Macapeges, is related to the re-electionist mayor.

The unidentified mayoral candidate has also complained about the familial ties of most members of the BEIs to incumbent officials.

We could not find the election officer there now, he has been missing since this morning, Lineses said on Sunday.

In Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao, tension ran high when supporters of candidates had a tug of war of sort on the election paraphernalia.

Supporters of a mayoral candidate Adtag Macarimban had demanded from the Comelec that the election officer be relieved because he was related to other candidates.

Colonel Benjamin Hao, 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, said the presence of government forces prevented the election paraphernalia from getting into the hands of partisan civilians.

Curfew imposed in violence-prone Davao Sur

DIGOS CITY, Davao del Sur, Philippines -- The Commission on Elections ordered the police to implement curfew in the whole of Davao del Sur following the latest eruption of violence that claimed the lives of two bodyguards of Malalag re-electionist Mayor Roel Paras.

The curfew will be implemented on Sunday night and end on early Tuesday morning.

The overnight curfew will be in effect from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., according to Senior Supt. Ronald dela Rosa, provincial police chief.

Davao del Sur was placed under Comelec control as nearly a dozen people had already been killed since the start of the election period.

Cop arrested for stealing money from LP mayoral bet

OZAMIZ CITY, Philippines -- A police officer was arrested and is facing administrative and criminal charges for allegedly stealing money from a Liberal Party (LP) mayoral bet in Sinacaban, Misamis Occidental in the course of a search operation.

Gov. Loreto Leo Ocampos identified the cop as PO1 Rosmario Gonzaga, a member of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) deployed in the province to help oversee security during the electoral season.

Gonzaga was pointed to as among the law enforcers who carted away money of various denominations from the house of an aunt of re-electionist Sinacaban Mayor Dello Lood on Friday.

Based on Loods accounting, some P600, 000 to P700, 000 of about P1 million taken from Lood were lost in the robbery.

Lood said the cash was placed inside a box. Some P300, 000 were recovered from Gonzagas possession, placed inside a backpack bag he carried with him.

Lood said Gonzaga and several other cops entered the house of his aunt even if this was not part of the court-sanctioned raid ordered by Ozamiz city Municipal Trial Court in Cities Judge Rio Concepcion Achas.

His aunts house is just near Loods house, which was raided for illegal firearms but the policemen did not find any gun.

As the raiding team was about to leave, Lood said their household staff members were able to inform his political supporters, who immediately gathered outside the house and blocked Gonzaga from leaving.

Lood said his supporters took away Gonzagas bag, although Gonzaga was able to sneak out and hide inside a patrol car. The people guarded the patrol car to make sure Gonzaga could not escape.

When other Misamis Occidental officials arrived to support Lood, Gonzaga volunteered to surrender to Ocampos who immediately turned him over to the Sinacaban town police.

Found inside the bag are Gonzagas wallet and several personal identification cards. He is currently detained at the Sinacaban police stations temporary lock-up cell.

Apart from pursuing legal cases against Gonzaga, Ocampos said the Liberal Party (LP) in Misamis Occidental might file administrative charges against Achas for going out of bounds in issuing a search warrant.

Ocampos noted that Achas did not have jurisdiction over Sinacaban but rather the regional trial court in nearby Jimenez town.

Lood himself said he refused to let the law enforcers in at 5:30 a.m. last Friday because of the defective warrant.

He said he eventually gave in to prevent misperceptions but not before registering to them my reservations about its validity.

Reds attack Aurora polling precinct

from mb.com.ph

Security forces clashed with suspected communist rebels who allegedly tried to lay siege on a polling precinct in a remote town in Dingalan, Aurora on Saturday night, a local police commander said Sunday.

Senior Superintendent Romulo Esteban, director of the Aurora Police, said there were no reported casualties on the sides of police and military and the rebels after almost two hours of gun battle.

Quoting field reports, Esteban said the rebels attacked the voting center in Sitio Singawan in Barangay Umiray at around 11:30 p.m. on Friday.

"They approached and assaulted the polling precincts with gun burst," said Esteban.

Joint police and military operatives who were manning the nearby Security Assistance Desk immediately stood their ground and engaged the rebels in a fierce gun battle.

Amid the clash that lasted until 1 a.m. Sunday, Esteban said the elections will go on since there was no reported damage on the election materials stored inside the polling precinct.

Earlier, suspected communist rebels burned five Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines inside a voting center in a remote area in Iloilo.

11 out of 7,555 voting machines in Metro found defective

MANILA, Philippines -- Eleven vote scanning and counting machines out of the 7,555 units distributed around Metro Manila were reported to be defective and needed to be replaced after they were tested and sealed on Sunday.

Michael Dioneda, director of the Commission on Elections National Capital Region (Comelec-NCR) office, however, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, that the number of defective precinct count optical scanning machines (PCOS) was minimal. He assured the public that replacements would be sent Sunday night and then tested before the opening of polling precincts early Monday.

Dioneda said that at least four machines were reported defective in Pateros, three in Las Pias, and one each in Caloocan City, Pasig City, Quezon City, and in Manila after the testing and sealing processes were completed at the Comelec-NCR office.

All the defective machines, he pointed out, should be replaced. The machines automatically shut down and cannot be repaired by the assigned technicians so they will have to be replaced with new machines.

In Manila, the PCOS machine at the Araullo High School along UN Avenue only read three out of 10 ballots.

School principal Elena Batusan told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the resident Smartmatic technician did not know how to repair the machine so it had to be replaced. We used the same 10 mock ballots in the other 15 machines and they were all read. It is this one machine that refuses to read all 10 ballots, she explained.

The school principal also noticed that some of the reconfigured compact flash (CF) cards, which were supposed to be assigned to six barangay (villages), only had three barangay written on them. We are still trying to clarify that with the Comelec. We just want to make sure that this will not affect the actual voting process, Batusan remarked.

But apart from the reported 11 machines reported by Dioneda, Supt. Jimmy Tiu, Sta. Mesa Station 8 commander of the Manila Police District (MPD) told the Inquirer that two more PCOS machines turned out to be defective in his area.

One was at the Bacood Elementary School and the other at the Elpidio Quirino High School. But, he said the technicians in the schools have been working to repair them.

A school principal in one of the polling places in Manila who requested anonymity pointed out that the manual process of voting would have been far better than the automation. He commented, The election would be easier for the board of election inspectors but it would suffer in terms of credibility.

At least we have teachers to guard the tally and everything would be transparent. Here, we only have the machines and there would be no way to check if the results are accurate except for the random manual audit, he explained.

But, he stressed, to conduct a parallel manual count with the automated process would be additional work for the BEIs and would be impractical at this point.

Palace assures 'successful' transition of power after polls

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - The outgoing administration of President Arroyo is assuring Filipinos that there will be a "successful transition of power" as it prays for successful polls on Monday, a statement from Malacañang said Sunday.

Arroyo to hear Mass first before voting in Lubao

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will hear a Mass first in Lubao town in Pampanga before casting her vote on the first nationwide automated elections on Monday.

President Arroyo, who has been in Lubao since Saturday, is expected to hear Mass at the St. Agustine Parish before proceeding to the nearby Lubao Elementary School where she will cast her vote at Precinct No. 001A. She is running for congresswoman representing the second district of her home province.

In an interview on dzRB radio Sunday, deputy presidential spokesman Gary Olivar said President Arroyo is confident that she will win since she has done a lot for the betterment of Pampangeños.

"Umaasa ang Pangulo na bibigyan siya ng boto ng kanyang mga kababayan sa Pampanga sapagkat madami rin naman syang nagwa para sa kanila (President Arroyo is hoping that Pampangueños will give her the vote considering what she has done in the province)," he said.

President Arroyo, who campaigned only on weekends, is running against independent candidates Filipinas Rosario Sampang and Feliciano Serrano, and Liberal Party bet Adonis Simpao for the seat that will be vacated by her son Juan Miguel Mikey" Arroyo.

From Lubao, President Arroyo is expected to return to Manila to monitor the developments in the elections.

President Arroyo spent the eve of election with her family as they also commemorated Mother's Day in Sunday.

Olivar said the Predident received two dozens of roses from First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, as had been their tradition every time there is a special occasion.

Elections worrywarts set up poll observation centers

MANILA, Philippines -- Despite assurances from the Commission on Elections, election automation worrywarts are bracing themselves for the worst.

The Halalang Marangal (Honorable Elections), through its secretary-general, information technology expert Roberto Verzola, urged the public to carefully watch the final testing and sealing of the PCOS machines, after the storing of the reconfigured compact flash memory cards, and report to media and election monitors any discrepancy between the machine and the manual counts.

Halalang Marangal includes among its convenors former Sen. Wigberto Taada, former Comelec commissioner Mehol Sadain, and retired General Francisco Gudani.

Verzola said errors could occur in machines if their improperly configured CF cards were not replaced, or in machines where ovals had been misaligned by one to two millimeters by the high-speed printing, just like what happened to the ultraviolet security marks.

He noted that only up to 10 sample ballots were used to test the accuracy of the PCOS machines to determine if each machine complied with the Commission on Elections requirement that it should be 99.995 percent accurate, meaning one error out of 20,000 marks or shaded ovals.

According to his calculations detailed in his blog (http://rverzola.wordpress.com/2010/04/25/how-to-show-that-a-pcos-voting-machine-is-accurate-enough/), Verzola said if one needed to be 95-percent confident that a PCOS machine was at least 99.995 percent accurate, a test set of 1,762 ballots, with 59,908 total shaded ovals, should have been used.

Meanwhile, another group, the Automated Election System (AES) Watch, said on Sunday it has set up a web-based Citizens Election Monitor, wherein citizens could serve as volunteer reporters in their respective locations and report incidents related to the automated polls to the groups website (www.aeswatch.org).

The monitoring center of AES Watch will be located at Ang Bahay ng Alumni at the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman, Quezon City. It will operate from May 8 until May 12 or as needed to monitor developments in the conduct of the automated elections.

Alfredo Pascual, AES Watch lead convener and president of the UP Alumni Association (UPAA), the monitoring operation was organized because of the unresolved vulnerabilities affecting the AES.

The original mandate of AES Watch was just to monitor the preparation of the AES. We were hoping that with various advocacy groups combining forces and speaking with one voice in a coalition, Comelec would be more responsive to our pleas to provide for measures addressing issues of readiness and trustworthiness of the AES, Pascual said.

Since Comelec did not listen much, we saw the need for AES Watch to continue with the monitoring of the election process itself while continuing with the advocacy to assert for transparent and credible elections, he added.

Reports may be sent via texting, email, twitter or by filling up a form in the website. The report must include the precinct number, municipality or city, and province, followed by the incident.

Incidents such as delays in the delivery of PCOS, ballot or other election paraphernalia, delays in voting, irregularity in the voting, transmission problems, canvassing problems, harassment or violence may be reported.

The reports are then pinned on a digital map of the country appearing on the website, which is available to anyone.

One of the first reports at the website on Sunday pertained to defective reconfigured CF cards in Iligan City and Lanao del Norte.

These, along with reports from various advocacy groups, will provide timely information that can direct Comelec and appropriate authorities to address the reported incidents. It is expected that television and radio programs will use the AES Watch generated data for their own reports and commentaries.

AES Watch is a voluntary, independent and nonpartisan coalition of concerned groups and individuals monitoring the 2010 elections in the Philippines.

Its conveners include the Center for Peoples Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG), NBN-ZTE scandal whistle-blower Rodolfo Lozada; Manila auxiliary bishop Broderick Pabillo and Caloocan bishop Deogracia Yniguez of the National Secretariat for Social Action and the Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, respectively; the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines; Computer Professionals Union, and Pagbabago (Movement for Social Change), among others.

Young information technology enthusiasts, experts and bloggers have volunteered to set up the website and take care of running the monitoring system. The IT professionals include those from Google-Philippines, TXTPower, and various bloggers organizations.

On the eve of the elections, poll watchdog group Kontra Daya called on the people to prepare for what could be a confusing, chaotic, tension-filled election day.

It set up a similar web-based election monitor on its website (www.kontradaya.org). The site monitors developments nationwide. It has a hotline at 0921-2953004, 0915-2332413, 0929-9879624 and 0915-6942019.

The watchdog group has monitored delays in the delivery of PCOS machines and CF cards in some areas, as well as the burning of PCOS machines in Miag-ao, Iloilo on Saturday night. It monitored the final testing and sealing of the machines in Metro Manila on Sunday.

Fr. Joe Dizon, Kontra Daya convenor, said Mondays battle grounds would be at the precincts where most of the problems in poll automation could happen.

We expect complaints of disenfranchisement, rejected ballots, long queues, machine problems and other issues. We are concerned that in some places, PCOS machines are being burned, or school houses are being burned just so elections will not push through, he said.

Kontra Daya said that last minute preparations, last-minute testings and the overall lack of preparedness by Comelec and the Board of Election Inspectors can lead to many problems on election day.

We hope Comelec proves us wrong, but we dont think it will be smooth sailing on Monday. Too many matters have been left to chance. The lack of preparations of the Comelec will become evident tomorrow, Dizon said.

The priest said the group worry for the Board of Election Inspectors who would be at the front lines of the precinct yet are obviously ill-prepared for the gargantuan task that faces them, adding, They will be feeling the brunt of the election day pressure.

Up to now, he said, many BEIs have difficulty in carrying out the protocol for operating the PCOS machines. Many do not know what to do when faced with machine errors or complaints from the voters.

For its part, Cenpeg will be running its own election monitor Project 30-30, funded by the European Union and other nongovernment groups, to address the problem of electoral fraud with special focus on the 30 so-called vulnerabilities of the AES.

Reports from Cenpegs website (www.eu-cenpeg.com) will be made by regional coordinators heading thousands of province-based poll watchers working with a core team in Metro Manila serving as verifiers.

Supreme Court set to convene as tribunal for poll disputes

THE SUPREME COURT (SC) is ready to convene as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) any time now in preparation for protests that may arise following today's national automated elections.

SC spokesman Jose Midas P. Marquez told reporters yesterday that the full court released last week the 2010 Rules of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal before going on recess.

"With the new PET rules out, the Supreme Court is ready to convene as the PET if and when the need arises," said Mr. Marquez, who is also court administrator.

The PET, composed of all 15 magistrates with the Chief Justice as ex-officio chairman, resolves all issues relative to the presidential and vice-presidential contests.

Protest may be filed within 30 days after the proclamation of a winning candidate.

Romulo B. Macalintal, former poll lawyer of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, has earlier asked the high court to abolish the PET for being a redundant body.

He said the creation of the PET violated Section 4, Article VII of the Constitution, which states that "the Supreme Court, sitting en banc, shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of the president or vice-president, and may promulgate its rules for the purpose."

The PET has been in place since 1957 with the passage of Republic Act 1973. The law was repealed when the country shifted to a parliamentary form of government under the 1973 Constitution. The tribunal was revived under Batas Pambansa 884.

Under the present Constitution, the high court gave life to the PET via the 2005 Rules.

Since then, the tribunal had convened to resolve the election protests filed by then presidential candidate Miriam Defensor-Santiago who lost to Fidel V. Ramos in the 1992 polls. It also took jurisdiction over the protests filed by then presidential candidate Fernando K. Poe, Jr. and running mate Senator Loren B. Legarda against Mrs. Arroyo and then Senator Manuel "Noli" L. de Castro in the 2004 elections.

Meanwhile, acting Justice Secretary Alberto C. Agra has ordered all prosecutors nationwide to keep watch and prosecute all election-related offenses.

High court taking over Estrada case

THE SUPREME COURT now has jurisdiction over the disqualification case against former president Joseph "Erap" E. Estrada, who is one of the nine presidential candidates in today's elections.

The high court has ordered Mr. Estrada of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to comment on the petition filed by Evillo C. Pormento in 10 days, Court Administrator and SC spokesman Jose Midas Marquez said.

The Comelec's second division has denied the lawyer's motion for lack of merit.

"Nothing in the assailed resolution would show that the [second division] had shirked on its duty to decide the controversy...," the poll body's five-page resolution read.

The second division last Jan. 20 allowed Mr. Estrada to run again since he was not able to finish his six-year term nearly a decade ago.

Elected in 1998, Mr. Estrada's term was cut short after he was ousted by a popular revolt in 2001 on corruption charges. He was convicted of plunder in 2007 but received presidential pardon in the same year. 

Aquino siblings visit Cory's grave on Mother's Day

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – Kris Aquino-Yap and her 3 female siblings on Sunday celebrated Mother's Day at the grave of their mother, former president Corazon "Cory" Aquino, who passed away last year after a long battle with colon cancer.

Candidates to watch

MANILA (AFP) - The world's best boxer, a woman with 3,000 shoes, military rebels and an alleged mass murderer are among the characters contesting more than 17,000 positions in today's elections.

Here is a list of 10 of the most interesting personalities:

• BENIGNO AQUINO, 50. The balding, chainsmoking, bachelor son of the late democracy heroine Corazon Aquino is set to win the presidential contest by a landslide, according to opinion polls.

• MANUEL VILLAR, 60. Self-made propertydeveloper millionaire who is one of Aquino's main rivals. But his popularity ratings have plunged in recent weeks amid allegations he used his posts in government to enrich himself.

• GLORIA ARROYO, 63. The president for the past decade is controversially seeking a seat in the House of Representatives in what her critics allege is part of a bid to eventually return to power as prime minister.

• IMELDA MARCOS, 80. The ex-first lady left 3,000 pairs of shoes when she fled Malacañang during a popular revolt that toppled her husband, Ferdinand Marcos. She is standing for a Lower House seat partly to win redemption for her late husband.

• JUAN PONCE ENRILE, 86. The wily survivor wants to return as president of the Senate after a long career that saw him outlast his former bosses-turnedfoes Ferdinand Marcos and Corazon Aquino.

• ANDAL AMPATUAN SR., 65. Head of a powerful Muslim clan, he is running against his own daughter for vice governor of Maguindanao province while in jail with his sons awaiting trial for the murders of 57 people in an election-linked massacre last year.

• JEJOMAR BINAY, 67. The diminutive mayor of Makati City made a dramatic late surge in the polls to the front of the vice presidential race after a faction in the Aquino camp shifted support to him. Binay was a close ally of Aquino's mother, the late president Corazon Aquino.

• MANNY PACQUIAO, 31. The seven-time world boxing champion is seeking a Lower House seat three years after being knocked out in a similar attempt.

• JOSEPH ESTRADA, 73. Ousted in a bloodless, military-backed coup in 2001 three years after a landslide presidential election victory, the populist B-movie film star has surged to number-two in the polls in his second bid for the presidency.

• DANILO LIM, 54. A decorated hero in the campaign against long-running communist and Muslim insurgencies, the army general is seeking a Senate seat while in jail and being tried for allegedly leading two failed coups.

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