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

Monday, May 10, 2010

May 11, 2010 Major News Stories

Standoff in Bogo as camp of Junie blocks car of Benhur

DUE to allegations that Rep. Benhur Salimbangon and his supporters threatened lawyers of his rivals in a barangay in Medellin town, Bogo City Mayor Celestino "Junie" Martinez Jr.

Martinez and his supporters had blocked some of the vehicles of Salim-bangon when they passed by Barangay Polangbato, Bogo City at 3 p.m. yesterday, causing a stand-off.

This stranded a bus transporting 30 passengers from Manila to Bogo City's Polangbato Pier, vehicles belonging to the Martine-zes and the media covering the elections in the city.

The roadblock lasted until late last night, prom-pting Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Lani-o Nerez to leave for Bogo City past 9 p.m., hoping to ease the situation.

The mayor's son, congressional candidate Celestino "Tining" Marti-nez III, said the tension started when Salimbangon's supporters threatened their team of lawyers while they were conducting poll-watching duties in a precinct in Barangay Curva, Medellin.

Atty. Llewelyn Men-chavez, who led the team of lawyers and poll watchers under Martinez, claimed the village chief of Barangay Curva harassed them for staying too long in the precinct.

The barangay chief and his men were allegedly carrying high-powered firearms, Menchavez said.

When the suspects left on board a black van, Menchavez called Tining, who then alerted his father and their supporters.

The Bogo City mayor, his wife Clavel and their supporters immediately blocked a portion of the road near the Polangbato Elementary School, after hearing reports that Salimbangon's convoy was approaching.

When Salimbangon passed by the area, the mayor blocked the convoy, causing a massive traffic jam on the one-way road leading to a pier.

The mayor asked Salimbangon to submit his vehicles to a search.


Salimbangon refused, prompting the mayor to call the Bogo City Police Chief Julian Entoma and members of the police augmentation force who immediately arrived at the area.

The Martinezes, in anger, asked Entoma to decide on the matter, but the Bogo City police chief said he cannot conduct a search on the vehicles unless Salimbangon allows it.

When Salimbangon's vehicles attempted to escape by crossing a sugar cane plantation, they were still blocked.

Senior Supt. Eduardo Ingking, peace and order supervisor in the fourth district, and Bogo City Election Officer Enerio Ocariza tried to mediate but to no avail.

Ingking, however, allowed Salimbangon, who was asked to wear a bullet-proof vest, to leave the area by 5 p.m. with police escorts.

Nerez said as of last night, they had no legal basis to search Salimbangon's vehicles.

Maj. Christopher Tampus of Central Command said that 50 personnel from the 78th Infantry Battalion were sent to the area while a platoon of 30 personnel that was part of a provincial battalion for emergency cases was being prepared to augment forces in Bogo City.


He assured that other units of the AFP, such as the Philippine Air Force and the Naval Forces Central are also ready to be deployed if needed.

The first deployments were not pulled out from their assignments because they were still securing the polling centers.

Aside from the forces that the AFP sent to Bogo City last night, Nerez said 100 more police personnel will be sent there today.

"I want to make them understand that we have to follow the law and we have no legal basis to search the vehicle," Nerez explained.

He also defended Bogo City Police Chief Entoma, who was accused of escorting Salimbangon to vote.

"Sa akong pagkaila ni Entoma, dili na siya ingon ana (He's not like that)," Nerez told reporters.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) 7 Director Dennis Ausan said he has given the police and military the go signal to resolve the standoff at "the soonest possible time."

"I am giving them my blessings to resolve it... with the most judicious decision under the circumstances," Ausan said in last night's press briefing.

But even before Election Day, tension was already felt in the city, as Salimbangon's camp accused the Martinezes of ordering the mauling and arrest of his supporters by members of the City of Bogo Anti-Crime Task Force (CBACTAF) at a checkpoint in Barangay Libertad.

Two unlicensed firearms and money were also allegedly "planted" as evidence against them.

However, Martinez's camp denied the allegations and said the arrest was legal and the four men were caught in "plain view" possessing the illegal firearms.

Police and poll officials held a meeting with political leaders in Bogo City Sunday afternoon in hopes of easing the tension following two strafing incidents in Bogo City and Tabuelan.

Nerez said he and Cebu Provincial Police Chief Erson Digal, Provincial Election Supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano, Senior Supt. Edgardo Ingking and 78th Infantry Battalion Commander Raymundo Banares visited the two areas after barangay officials became victims of strafing incidents earlier that morning.

In yesterday's first press briefing, Nerez said they will be getting the statement of Crisanto Ochea, chief tanod of Barangay Cayang, Bogo City, who was wounded in a strafing incident.

Although Ochea already named the gunman, Nerez said they have yet to evaluate his statement.

As for the attack in Barangay Kanluhangon, Tabuelan, Nerez said a special investigation team is handling the investigation. 

President, vice president, senators likely known by Tuesday -- Smartmatic

The Filipino nation will know the next President, vice president and the 12 new senators of the republic by Tuesday, according to the Smartmatic TIM, the technology partner of the Commission on Elections in the country's first ever automated elections.

Cesar Flores, spokesman of the Smartmatic TIM, projected on Monday night that 80 percent of the results would be in by Tuesday and that would show a clearer picture of the winners in the presidential, vice presidential and senatorial races.

"When you wake up tomorrow (Tuesday) about 80 percent of the results are transmitted. You will have a very clear trend on who will be the next president, vice president, and senators," he said in a joint press conference with the Commission on Elections.

Happy with the national conduct of the automated elections, Comelec Chairman Jose Melo, said "This seems to be the victory of the Filipino people with God's help."

The first automated elections have been marked by malfunctioning vote scanning and counting machines, rejected ballots and voters who backed out of voting, turned off by the long lines and the slow wait for their turn to vote, as only one board of election inspectors was tasked to take care of three to five precincts clustered into one.

But Melo said these cases did not lead to massive failure of elections. "I'm smiling again. It was successful. I will add the 'very part' later," the poll chief said.

Melo placed the machine malfunction at only .05 percent of all the Precinct Count Optical Scan machines were replaced due to various technical glitches.

The number was less than the expected 2.5%-5% replacement rate the company prepared in its contingency plan.

Cesar Flores, Smartmatic TIM spokesman, said 10,000 precincts reported to have finished the voting and had printed 30 election returns as of 7 pm. The number, he said, was better than expected.

As to the snaking lines in the precincts, Melo admitted that the poll body would have to study the queue management in the future.

Aquino, Binay leads in partial Comelec results

Sen. Benigno Aquino III and Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay leads in the Commission on Elections (Comelec) partial count of the votes for president and vice-president. In a press conference, Commission on Elections chairman Jose Melo announced the partial results based on 38.25% of clustered precincts. Halalan 2010, ABS-CBN  

HALALAN 2010: Latest Comelec official results

The latest partial official results of the May 10, 2010 National Elections from the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

ESTRADA 6,413,712


ROXAS 9,239,205


Updated: 23:11 Philippine Standard Time, May 10, 2010.

CAYETANO 8,496,807
SOTTO 7,435,186
GUINGONA 6,349,249
DE VENECIA 5,165,124

Gwen, Greg lead

GOV. GWENDOLYN Garcia and Vice Gov. Greg Sanchez Jr. took the lead in an unofficial tally, with the ballots of about 27 percent of Cebu's voters counted.

Garcia had 311,817 votes, with Liberal Party candidate Hilario Davide III getting 281,700, according to results released by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas (KBP) website shortly after midnight.

In the race for vice governor, reelectionist Sanchez had 278,217 votes, compared to 254,328 for Glenn Anthony Soco. Cebu Province has 2.2 million registered voters.

Pacquiao headed for KO victory in Sarangani

Manny Pacquiao is headed for a knockout victory and end the Chinogbians" decades-old reign in Saranggani. Sarangani Partial Unofficial Tally as of 5/11, 1:35am, 66.75% of ERs. Manny Pacquiao (53,727)-Roy Chiongbian (24,305).

Partial tally shows Romualdez clan still strong in Leyte

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – The Romualdez clan continues to dominate the political scene in Tacloban City and Leyte province based on the unofficial and partial count of the votes here.

Based on the partial unofficial count, former President and Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino standard-bearer Joseph "Erap" Estrada is ahead of  Liberal Party's Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III in the race for the presidency.

For the vice presidency, Estrada's running mate, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay has the edge over Senator Mar Roxas of the Liberal Party.

For the local posts, the partial and unofficial count shows that the Romualdez clan continues to have a firm hold over Tacloban and Leyte.

The count shows that incumbent Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez is in the lead in the congressional race in Leyte's 1st District with reelectionist Mayor Alfred Romualdez and his wife Councilor Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez also ahead of their rivals.

Lagging behind was Alfredo Bejo Romualdez with his rival, incumbent Vice Mayor Arvin Antoni ahead in the unofficial, partial count. 

Poll officials said elections in Tacloban City were concluded successfully despite instances of malfunctioning Precinct Count Optical Scan machines and defective memory cards.

Another Binay to lead Makati City

Makati City will still be led by another member of the Binay family. Early Tuesday, Councilor Jejomar Binay Jr. was proclaimed as mayor-elect of the country's financial district.

Guia Gomez, JV Ejercito proclaimed winners in San Juan polls

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections proclaimed Tuesday former actress Guia Gomez mayor of San Juan City, while her son, Joseph Victor Ejercito, was named congressman of the city's lone district. 

Duterte daughter takes lead in Davao mayoralty race

MANILA, Philippines - The daughter of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte appears headed to replace her father after taking an early lead against former House Speaker Prospero Nograles in the city's mayoralty race.

Manila Mayor Lim heads towards easy reelection

Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim appeared headed towards a comfortable reelection when he got 252,889 votes, some 100,000 votes ahead of his closest rival, Lito Atienza, who got 112,129, on Monday night's counting.

328 defective poll machines on election day

A total of 328 defective precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines nationwide were noted hours into election day Monday, supplier Smartmatic-TIM said.

Voter verification cause of long lines, says Comelec

The voter verification process seemed to be the bottleneck causing the long lines at the polling precincts, the Commission on Election said Monday.

Automation makes polls safer for teachers: DepEd

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Education on Monday said poll automation has made the election process safer for teachers who traditionally serve as members of the board of election inspectors for nationwide polls.

Deadly violence, technical bugs mar vote

MANILA, Philippines(UPDATE 2) Ten people were killed as bouts of violence marred the Philippine elections while problems with vote-counting machines frustrated voters in the country's first automated ballot.

More than 40 million Filipinos were expected to turn up at polling stations across the archipelago to elect a successor to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whose near decade-long rule has been tarnished by allegations of corruption.

Senator Benigno Noynoy Aquino III, a 50-year-old bachelor, is the favorite to win the presidency after riding a wave of popular sentiment for his democracy-hero parents.

But violence that always plagues Philippine politics, as well as problems with the nation's first effort at using computers to count votes, fuelled longstanding concerns about whether the election would be credible.

"Many people are voting and there are many complaints," election commissioner Rene Sarmiento told reporters, although he insisted the vote would eventually be a success.

More than 17,000 positions are at stakefrom president down to municipal council seatsand local politicians are infamous for using their own "private armies" to eliminate rivals or intimidate voters.

Ten people were killed across the Philippines on polling day, bringing the death toll from election-related violence over the past four months to at least 40, according to police statistics.

Two of the fatalities occurred as gunbattles raged in the flashpoint southern province of Maguindanao, where 57 people died in a grisly election-linked massacre late last year.

The army, which deployed thousands of troops to Maguinanao to minimize the violence there, said soldiers engaged in a series of firefights with unknown assailants who fired rocket propelled grenades near polling stations.

Voters fled polling booths to escape the violence, while the military reported the two people who died were killed in clashes elsewhere between the private armies of rival politicians.

But security officials said the balloting was turning out to be the most peaceful that the country has seen if compared to the last two elections.

So far this has been the most peaceful compared to our previous elections, said AFP Joint Task Force Hope chief Colonel Ricardo Nepomuceno in a press briefing at Camp Aguinaldo Monday evening.

We have reports from northern Luzon, generally peaceful dun, also Visayas and Southern Luzon, also peaceful, he said.

We hope this will hold until this night and until the canvassing is finish, Nepomuceno said.

PNP Director General Jesus Versoza noted that though there were untoward incidents in election hotspots, particularly in Mindanao, the overall situation during the whole day electoral exercise had been relatively peaceful.

The May 10, 2010 national and local elections will go down in our nations history as probably the most peaceful and orderly political exercise ever held in our land, Versoza said in a statement read to the media by Police Deputy Director Genereral Edgardo Acuna in Camp Crame.

The conduct of elections in Luzon and Visayas were generally peaceful but noted that there were cases of violence in the province of Maguindanao and other parts of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, Nepomuceno said.

He said that as of 3 p.m., 34 incidents of violence were recorded nationwide: six shooting, five encounters with partisan armed groups or communist rebels, one robbery, one ballot snatching, three cases of intimidation of voters, three mauling and two improvised explosive device explosions.

At a Palace briefing, Chief Superintendent Leandro Espina, the PNP spokesman, attributed the peaceful holding of the elections not only to automation, but also to the "long drawn'' preparations by the police and military that involved controlling loose firearms in the country.

He said the PNP has been able to retrieve close to 800,000 of the estimated 1.1 million loose firearms in the country, thanks to the strict enforcement of the PNP national firearms control program since 2009, as well as the election gun ban imposed by the Commission on Elections.

Also a major contributor to the generally peaceful situation was the security forces' campaign against private armed groups, now down to 74 and under tight and 24/7 surveillance.

And because of this, we experienced effectively a very low election-related violence this year, Espina said.

These three major factors (automation, campaign to recover loose firearms and drive to dismantle private armies) contributed on a major scale to the general peace and order situation...I think we have nipped it in the bud, courtesy of PNP Director General Jesus Versoza who conceived of all these programs. He believed that if you take out all the loose firearms from the streets, then you solve election-related violence and he is proven right, Espina said.

The PNP spokesman said that since January10 this year or 200 days ago, the police had received 82 cases of election-related violence, much lower than the 166 reported in 2004 and 181 in 2007.

In terms of casualties, this election year so far recorded 68 casualties, including 27 killed. For the same period in 2004 and 2007, the casualty cases reached 310 and 232 casualties, respectively.

Asked if he thought that the trend would continue until the end of the day, he agreed that this year's election is the most peaceful if compared to the past two preceding elections.

Meanwhile, technological problems emerged immediately after polls opened with some machines breaking down, and the election commission was forced to extend the voting period by one hour.

Long queues formed at polling stations with the election commission estimating 85 percent of eligible voters would turn out.

Most embarrassingly for election organizers, Aquino was forced to wait five hours to vote in his northern home province of Tarlac because the original ballot-counting machine broke down.

"This should not have happened and it would not have happened if Comelec had done its job," said Aquino, referring to the election commission.

Fearing a poll meltdown, Aquino and other presidential candidates have for weeks been calling for a parallel manual count but the election commission has refused saying this would only sow further confusion.

Aquino's main rivals are former president Joseph Estrada, 73, and property magnate Manny Villar, 60.

Two major independent surveys gave Aquino voter support of between 39 and 42 percent, a two-to-one lead over his challengers that places him on course for the biggest win in Philippine election history.

The frontrunner is the only son of former president Corazon Aquino and her assassinated husband, Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., who are revered by many for spearheading the restoration of Philippine democracy in the 1980s.

However, the Philippines' tumultuous brand of democracy is capable of delivering all manner of surprises, and Aquino's win is no certainty.

Villar is counting on a vast nationwide political machinery to help him pull off a shock win, while former movie star Estrada retains strong support among the poor even after he was deposed as president in 2001 for being corrupt.

Many colorful characters are contesting the elections, including world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, 31, who is running for a seat in the House of Representatives.

Another candidate for the lower house is Imelda Marcos, 80, who gained global notoriety when thousands of her shoes were found in the presidential palace after her late husband Ferdinand's overthrow in 1986.

Comelec checking reports some ballots were not checked for authenticity

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is still verifying reports claiming that ballots fed into voting machines may not have been checked for authenticity.

The poll body "is still verifying these cases," Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal told GMANews.TV on early evening of Monday, the day the Philippines held its first nationwide automated polls.

Various precincts across the country may have failed to use ultraviolet (UV) lamps, a device that was supposed to check authenticity of ballots, anecdotal reports reaching GMANews.TV said.

Election inspectors in various areas in Quezon, Antipolo, Cebu, and Iloilo cities may have overlooked using UV lamps, reports reaching GMANews.TV said.

UV lamps, which were bought days before the nationwide polls, were supposed to be used on a ballots security markings.

Besides helping verify its authenticity, security markings on ballots are expected to prevent fraud.

In one voting center precinct 1223 in Krus na Ligas Elementary School in the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) said that it didnt use the UV lamps it was provided with.

After all, the voting machines accepted the ballots anyway, a member of the BEI said.

May isang nagrequest na gamitan yung balota niya ng UV lamp. Dun lang kami gumamit," a BEI member told GMANews.TV on Monday night in a separate report.

(One voter requested to have his ballot scanned by the UV lamp. That was the only time we used it.)

The BEI of another precinct in the same school related a similar story.

Ang sabi samin ng Smartmatic technician, gamitin lang namin kung gusto ng voter. Sumusunod lang kami sa kanila," the BEI explained.

(The Smartmatic technician told us to use UV lamps if the voter requested it. We were merely following their instructions.

Meanwhile, Luz Pasuengos, the BEI chair for yet another precinct, said that the UV lamps were used for every one of their ballots.

But at the same time, she said that they were unaware of any guidelines covering the use of the lamps.

Hindi naman kami sinabihan kung may guidelines. Basta inilawan lang namin yung mga balota," she said.

(We werent even told if there were guidelines. We just placed the ballots under the UV lamps.)

A separate report said that the device was also used in Bulacan.

Precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines were initially expected to scan ballots security markings and verify their but the function was later turned off.

"Without the security check, theres no way of checking whether the ballots are genuine," said Romel Bagares, a lawyer for Concerned Citizens Movement, which filed a case against poll automation.

"Switching can happen at this stage," he said, referring to ballots that were not immediately counted because the poll machines either failed to proceed or broke down.

Failure of elections declared in 7 Lanao Sur towns, says military

ZAMBOANGA CITY, PhilippinesFailure of elections has been declared in seven Lanao del Sur towns, according to Lt. Esteffani Cacho, spokesperson of Western Mindanao Command.

Cacho said the declaration was due to the absence of board of election inspectors in some voting centers and malfunctioning of precinct count optical scan machines in others.

Failure of elections was declared in the towns of Masui, Marogong, Bayang, Tubaran, Lumbabayabao, Sultan Dumalundong and Lumbaka Unayan.

Villar ready to accept results of 'credible' elections

MANILA, PhilippinesReaching out to his rivals in the presidential race, Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Manuel B. Villar Jr. called for reconciliation soon after he cast his vote in his hometown of Las Pias City on Monday, vowing to to respect the results of the first-ever computerized elections so long as they were credible and urging his opponents to do the same.

In an admission which could ensure a smooth transition of power come June 30, Villar himself said he would readily concede defeat in a credible, orderly elections

First, if the elections are orderly, that's O.K. Hindi naman tayo pikon na tao (I am not touchy). I will support (the winner). I'm not a disorderly person. But I must be convinced that that is the will of the people, he told reporters at a press conference.

Surprisingly, the man, who at one point claimed that he was already swimming in black propaganda after finding himself at the receiving end of potshots and damaging exposs, also apologized to his rivals for the mudslinging that had marred the 90-day campaign.

To my rivals, well, I don't know if you have been happy with our campaign, he said, explaining that the NP had tried its best to ensure clean elections, including a high-level debate.

I had tried to bring up the issues (affecting the electorate) ... such as what we've done in the past. If you disliked anything (in my campaign strategy) my apologies, he said.

Villar pointed out that the NP had only wanted to run on an issue-based presidential race to elevate the level of electoral debate.

Everything went without a hitch when Villar and his wife, Cynthia, trooped to the same polling precinct a quarter before 11 a.m. on Monday.

The Villar couple arrived at the STI campus located inside the BF Resort Village in Barangay Talon Dos, Las Pias at 10:43 a.m., proceeding immediately to vote at clustered precinct No. 222.

He tried to queue but was allowed by his neighbors to skip the long line, which stretched all the way to the street.

Their arrival triggered a minor disruption in the voting as TV crews and photographers jostled for space in front of the precinct.

Villar is listed as No. 188 in the voter's list, and his spouse, 187.

His voter's identification No. is 7601-0454D-L1349MBV1.

Their children Camille, Paolo and Mark also voted in the same precinct.

Only Villar's mother, Curita Bamba, voted in the next precinct, 229, which was separated from precinct No. 222 by a temporary wall.

With the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines working perfectly, the Villar couple finished casting their votes in less than 10 minutes, unlike other presidential candidates, including Liberal Party's Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, who had experienced technical glitches with PCOS machines.

Villar said he voted for his group, referring to the NP presidential and senatorial slate, but did not name names.

I don't know if I am allowed to divulge that. I might violate (election laws) on the last day, he quipped, then chuckled.

Villar's second son, Mark, is contesting the seat to be vacated by Cynthia, who is on her third term as representative of the lone district of Las Pinas.

At the press conference held under a tent near his polling precinct, Villar appeared jolly and relaxed, saying that he rested well the previous night.

I am not nervous. Surprisingly, I am relaxed now compared to the past days. Finally, our campaign ceased and now we will know how the 30 to 35 million people will vote, said Villar, referring to the expected voter turnout from 50 million registered voters.

The NP standard-bearer sounded upbeat because the polls had finally pushed through despite the recall of all 76,300 compact flashcards last week.

I'm confident. I did what I had to do. We are ready for any eventuality, he said, adding:
I believe we will win (but) whatever happens, we are all ready.

Villar, however, stressed it was too early to say that the polls had been successful, saying people should look at the voter turnout as one gauge.

The elections had barely begun, pointing to transmission, canvassing and actual acceptance of the results by the candidates.

This is just the start of the process (let's wait) before we can say if the automation system is O.K. or not.

He explained that he would easily accept the results, whatever the outcome, if there was no massive disenfranchisement of voters and technical glitches affecting the PCOS machines.

Villar called for unity and reconciliation, urging all candidates to respect the election results so long as they were credible.

What is important is for the elections to be successful, he said.

When asked if he would run again in the next presidential elections should he lose, he said:
I don't have any plans now. I don't know what I will do tomorrow. But we don't run out of options. If we win, we have a lot to do, he said, sounding optimistic.

They won't have a hard time talking to me, he added, without elaborating.

For security reasons, Villar will withdraw from the public's eye momentarily, a practice observed by all presidential candidates here and abroad during elections.

Villar will take this opportunity to spend quality time with his family.

Wherever I go, I will be with my family only with my family, he said, stressing that he was excited at the prospect of not being bothered by the media anymore.

I am also excited that the elections are over. I just hope that it will be orderly, he said.

2010 election surprise: Binay leads Roxas by 10%

A landslide win by Noynoy Aquino will probably insulate him from being cheated, but closer contests, including the vice presidential race, may tempt protagonists to resort to time-tested methods. How does one cheat after the polls close? Roberto Verzola counts the ways.
The most recent Comelec report as of this writing (May 10, 2010, 11:30 p.m., 57% of all election returns canvassed) suggests that the 2010 presidential election is an Aquino landslide. 

Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III seems to be getting roughly three votes for every two votes for Joseph "Erap" Estrada and one vote for Manuel "Manny" Villar Jr., confirming late pre-election surveys that showed a widening lead by Aquino over his closest rivals, and a precipitate drop in Villar's share of the votes.

The tight vice-presidential race is the surprise of the 2010 elections, with Jejomar "Jojo" Binay roughly getting around 10% more votes than early survey front-runner Manuel "Mar" Roxas III. It also confirms late pre-election surveys of a come-from-behind surge by Binay and a collapse in Loren Legarda's share.

The top ten in the senatorial race, based on the same Comelec partial report, are Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Franklin Drilon, Juan Ponce Enrile, Pilar Juliana "Pia" Cayetano, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., Ralph Recto, Vicente Sotto III, and Sergio Osmeña III.

Occupying the eleventh to the fourteenth slots – traditionally a very tight contest – are Manuel "Lito" Lapid, Teofisto "TG" Guingona III, Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, and Rozzano "Ruffy" Biazon.

Without a breakdown of the election returns received per region or province, it is hard to put the above reports into context. Whether the rankings can still change significantly depends on those regions which are most incomplete in terms of submitted election returns. 

Where cheating happens

It is in the low-completion regions where the cheating usually happened in the past. Some municipalities or even provinces would purposely delay reporting their returns, to allow candidates to estimate how many votes they needed to win. They would then bargain with local officials who control the uncanvassed ERs to swing the results in their favor. 

The incoming flow of electronic ERs will slow down when all precinct clusters whose voting machines worked, were able to produce a vote count and transmit their results to central servers have completed their transmissions. 

Then the results will start coming in more slowly, from voting machines whose memory cards are being physically transported to municipal canvassing centers. These memory cards will be inserted into card readers of the municipal canvassing servers, and their contents "imported," to be merged with the ERs that had been electronically transmitted. 

Cheats and new technology

This is another danger area. Depending on how quickly cheats have mastered the new technology, some may have already acquired enough sophistication to configure false memory cards and attempt an operation to substitute memory cards, analogous to the old practice of ballot-box substitution.

Also, a still-to-be-determined percentage of precincts will still conduct a manual count, if no machine reached them in time, or the machine broke down and its replacement could not get there in time, or if the ballots or the replacement memory card did not get to the precinct in time. 

Then manual methods of cheating can still occur. It is in fact much easier now to shade ovals than write names. Thousands can be marked without giving away the secret like handwriting would. Several million votes may still be at stake here.

In the past, the conclusion of precinct counting would just be the start of various cheating operations that occur at the municipal, provincial and national levels. It never mattered to cheats that their operations would create discrepancies between precinct-level data and higher-level data. As long as their candidate was proclaimed, the challenges, costs and delays that faced any post-proclamation protest was enough to deter all but the most determined victims of cheating. After all, they got away with it in 2004 and 2007.

Thus, cheats may still launch attempts at the municipal level and provincial levels, if they had already found ways to do so. One should not underestimate the creativity of cheats.

However, Aquino's seeming landslide win will probably deter any attempt to cheat him in favor of the runner-up. Estrada's huge lead in the 1998 presidential elections, and Obama's huge lead in the U.S. elections in 2008, had made it extremely difficult for a cheating operation to succeed. Thus, the cheats did not even dare, even if the machinery to do so was already in place. Had they led by a much smaller margin, the outcomes might have been different. 

If his landslide win insulates Aquino from any outcome-changing attempt at fraud, the same cannot be said in other contests.

The close vice-presidential contest may tempt one or both of the protagonists to tap operators to either strengthen one's lead or overcome the opponent's. Too many votes remain uncounted for either side to relax their guard. The drama of the 2010 elections remains to be played out over the vice-presidential contest.

The senatorial contest too has traditionally been marked by a very close contest between the 12th and the 13th placers. In 2007, Zubiri's margin over Pimentel was only .07% of Pimentel's votes and this was obtained through statistically impossible results from six municipalities in Maguindanao. 

In such close contests, we will need the .005% or lower error rate from PCOS machines specified by the Comelec. Unfortunately, the accuracy rates of these machines remain a big question mark, especially after the fiasco just a few days before the elections. 

Again, some of the protagonists in the senatorial contest may be tempted to mount an operation to ensure a 12th or higher position. Whether anyone actually will, remains to be seen.

Finally, given the recent fiasco of gross errors from the voting machines, will losers – especially local candidates – accept at face value the numbers reported by these machines, or will they question the results and demand a recount to double-check their accuracy? 

Until these questions are settled, it is too early to declare the 2010 automated elections a complete success. 

Police notes 165 liquor ban violations

Police on Monday said 165 cases of liquor ban violations have been noted.

BIR eyes revenues from huge campaign expenditures

MANILA, PhilippinesWith the election hoopla over, the Bureau of Internal Revenue will begin a special audit of companies that did business with political parties and candidatesincluding media companiesto be sure the government gets its share of election-related taxes.

Revenue officials expect to collect almost a billion pesos in income and value-added taxes from reputedly massive election spending.

Revenue Commissioner Joel L. Tan-Torres said in an interview the special election audit would be part of an initiative called Iboto Mo Kandidato, Nagbabayad ng Buwis na Wasto (Vote for the Candidate who pays the Right Taxes). It will cover candidates, political parties and firms that supplied goods and services to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

This may include television and radio networks, and newspapers, Tan-Torres said.

The campaign has resulted in substantial income for these suppliers, he said. That should also mean an increase in taxes due, including income taxes and value-added taxes.

The BIR chief said the agency was set to start with the largest companies involved in election-related businesses.

Aside from this, the BIR will monitor the political parties and their candidates, which are the withholding agents of a 5-percent withholding tax on election expenses.

Revenue officials initially expected to collect P1.2 billion over the length of the election campaign period.

However, Tan-Torres said that when Iboto Mo was being planned in 2009, the BIRs assumption was that collections would start in December 2009 when the filing of COCs was opened, instead of February 2010 when the campaign period started.

The shorter-than-assumed election period could cut collections in half.

Revenue Memorandum Order No. 35-2009 issued on November 11 tasked revenue district offices to work with offices of the Comelec and issue BIR registration forms to all candidates during the filing of certificates of candidacy that ran from late November to early December.

Arum sets Pacquiao's ring return in November

Win or lose in his second political fight, Manny Pacquiao"s much awaited ring return is scheduled seven months from now.

Estrada blooper: He skipped Binay's name for VP

Was it a simple oversight or did he deliberately junk his very own running mate?

Almost all voted for Noynoy in his precinct

TARLAC CITY, Tarlac - Almost all votes for president cast in Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III"s precinct in Tarlac province went for him.
Figures transmitted by the board of election inspectors (BEIs) showed that 668 of the 770 voters at the Central Azucarrera de Tarlac Elementary School picked Aquino as their presidential candidate.

Results of the election at the Central Azucarrera de Tarlac being rolled out by the head of the board of election inspectors. Rick Rocamora
Among the voters in the Central Azucarrera de Tarlac elementary school were workers of sugar mill Central Azucarrera de Tarlac, located inside the Cojuangco family-owned Hacienda Luisita. [See: Luisita sugar workers among first to vote in Noynoy's polling precinct]

Former president Joseph Estrada came in at a distant second with 32 votes, followed bye Senator Manuel Villar Jr. and administration bet Gilberto Teodoro Jr., who got 21 votes each.

Teodoro, Aquino's cousin, also hails from Tarlac. He was congressman of the province's first district from 1998 to 2007, while Aquino was congressman of the second district during the same period.

The votes at Aquino's polling precinct were transmitted past 10 p.m. because problems with the Precinct Count Optical Scan machine earlier in the day delayed the counting of the ballots. Aquino lined up for four hours before he could vote. [See: After four hours in line, Aquino finally votes]

The most comprehensive congressional & local election results available.

Comelec uncanvassed tabulated precinct results (As of 11:11 p.m.) 
( Updated May 11, 2010 01:33 AM

(Comelec data representing 57% of votes)

1. AQUINO, Benigno Simeon III C.8,958,396 (40.58%)
2. ESTRADA EJERCITO, Joseph M.5,678,821 (25.72%)
3. VILLAR, Manuel Jr B.3,089,942 (13.85%)
4. TEODORO, Gilberto Jr. C.2,347,274 (10.63%)
5. VILLANUEVA, Eduardo C.684,722 (3.10%)
6. GORDON, Richard J.340,487 (1.54%)
7. PERLAS, Jesus Nicanor P29,832 (.13%)
8.  MADRIGAL, Jamby A.27,050 (.12%)
9.  DE LOs REYES, John Carlos G. 24,612 (.11%)
1. BINAY, Jejomar C.8,935,188 (40.88%)
2. ROXAS, Manuel A.8,153,093 (36.93%)
3. LEGARDA, Loren B.2,297,058 (10.40%)
4. FERNANDO, Gilberto Jr. C.641,839 (2.90%)
5. MANZANO, Eduardo B.394,308 (1.78%)
6. YASAY, Perfecto R.220,824 (1.10%)
7. SONSA, Jose Y.37,182 (.16%)
8. CHIPECO, Jesus Nicanor P27,580 (.12%)
1. BONG REVILLA, Ramon Jr. B.1,162,707 (52.65%)
2. ESTRADA, Jinggoy E.1,577,545 (52.45%)
3. DEFENSOR-SANTIAGO, Miriam P.1,064,143 (48.31%)
4. DRILON, Franklin M.9,777,874 (44.29%)
5. ENRILE, Juan Ponce9,673,563 (43.82%)
6. CAYETANO, Pilar Juliana S.8,496,807 (38.49%)
7. MARCOS, Ferdinand Jr. R. 8,349,399 (37.82%)
8. RECTO, Ralph G.          7,588,912 (34.38%)
9. SOTTO, Vicente III C.7,435,186 (33.68%)
10. OSMENA, Sergio III D.7,055,021 (31.96%)
11. LAPID, Manuel M.6,547,022 (29.66%)
12. GUINGONA, Teofisto III D.6,349,249 (28.76%)
13. HONTIVEROS-BARAQUEL, Ana5,746,130 (26.03%)
14. BIAZON, Rozzano Rufino B.   5,375,657  (24.35%)
15. DE VENECIA, Jose III P.5,165,124 (24.23%)
16. REMULLA, Gilbert Cesar C.4,695,661 (21.27%)
17. LIM, Danilo M.4,592,207 (20.80%)
18. ROCO, Sonia M. 4,154,386 (18.82%)
19.  QUERUBIN, Ariel O.4,880,669 (18.52%)
20. PIMENTEL, Gwendolyn D.3,788,893 (17.17%)
21. ACOSTA, Jr. Nereus O.3,573, 222 (16.20%)
22. LACSON, Alexander L.3,117,843 (14.12%)
23. TAMANO, Adel A.2,474,286 (11.20%)
24. MAZA, Liza L.2,369,680 (10.73%) 

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