Arroyo wins new term as Philippine president

/ Source: The Associated Press

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has won another term in office, a congressional committee announced Sunday after finishing a contentious vote count six weeks after the election.

The opposition, which has claimed Arroyo’s camp manipulated the May 10 vote and cheated action film star Fernando Poe Jr. of some 2 million ballots, fought the proceedings all the way. Arroyo’s victory margin was about 1 million votes.

The military and police have been put on full alert for possible trouble.

The end of the count paved the way for Arroyo’s proclamation as winner by the full Congress. But the opposition still can question the committee’s report on the count later this week or file a protest, after the proclamation, to the Supreme Court election tribunal that likely would take years to resolve.

Poe’s people also have talked about a “people power” revolt like those that ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and President Joseph Estrada, Poe’s close friend, in 2001.

The congressional committee worked through the weekend and finally finished counting the last of 176 provincial summaries of votes, called certificates of canvass, late Sunday.

“The canvass is over. Arroyo has won,” Senate President Franklin Drilon said.

“It was very difficult but this is democracy,” he said, describing the infighting over the vote count as “harrowing.”

The final tally had Arroyo with 12,905,808 votes and Poe with 11,782,232, a difference of 1,123,576 votes. Three other candidates were well behind.