Image: Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
AP file
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo at a news conference in Manila this month.
updated 5/24/2004 1:25:51 PM ET 2004-05-24T17:25:51

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo won a narrow victory over her movie star rival in the May 10 vote, national election officials said Monday, although her opponent claimed massive fraud and warned of a “people power” revolt.

Arroyo put the military on full alert to prevent the vote count from being influenced by “mob rule,” her spokesman said.

Election officials said the count showed Arroyo with 39.5 percent of the vote to 36.6 percent for Fernando Poe Jr. The margin was more than 900,000 votes, the officials said.

Two areas, Sarangani province and Cotabato city, remained to be counted, but they did not represent enough votes to affect the outcome, the officials said.

An official hand count will not be finished for weeks. But two top elections officials said on condition of anonymity that an unofficial count was made during the tabulation for senatorial candidates being released Monday by the Commission on Elections.

“It’s clear, but Congress is the one who will proclaim that,” an election officials told The Associated Press, referring to Arroyo’s victory.

Elections Commission Chairman Benjamin Abalos said he and other officials counting the votes for senatorial candidates also had tracked presidential votes appearing in the same documents. However, the officials could not announce their tally publicly, he said.

Arroyo also was leading Poe by more than 730,000 votes in an unofficial government-sanctioned “quick count” by an election watchdog. It has tallied more than 60 percent of 216,000 election precincts.

Poe claims he actually won
The size of Arroyo’s advantage will do little to ease growing tensions. Poe’s people claim that their own count shows a clear victory for him.

Under the constitution, Congress must tally the votes for president and vice president from regional and provincial vote totals. Lawmakers then proclaim the winner.

Police warned that they would disperse illegal rallies, and the military went on full nationwide alert.

“We will not allow this vital institutional process to be sabotaged, subverted or delayed in any manner by lawless machinations or mob rule,” Arroyo’s spokesman, Ignacio Bunye, said in a statement.

Rumors of anti-government plots have spread in recent days through mobile phone text messages.

The looming standoff has caused concern in a country with a history of political turmoil and military restiveness. Analysts predict some sort of confrontation and say the recriminations could continue to hound Arroyo if she is proclaimed the winner by a narrow margin.

House Speaker Jose de Venecia said he expected the tally to be completed within three weeks, ahead of the scheduled inauguration June 30.

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