Philippines sets rules for official tally of votes

Philippine lawmakers set rules for the official tally of votes from the May 10 elections that is set to confirm Aquino as president, although the process may take longer than earlier thought.

Philippines sets rules for official tally of votes

Philippine lawmakers on Monday set rules for the official tally of votes from the May 10 elections that is set to confirm Senator Benigno Aquino as president, although the process may take longer than earlier thought.

The president and vice president are officially proclaimed by Congress. The special session to do so was brought forward by a week after the better-than-expected running of the automated polls, although some losing candidates have since raised allegations of fraud or machine failure.

Unofficial tallies of elections commission data showed Aquino has an insurmountable lead of more than 5 million votes over his nearest rival, former president Joseph Estrada, although the contest for vice president is much closer.

Expectations that Aquino could be declared winner by late May or early June, well ahead of the June 30 inauguration, have been tempered by allegations of fraud, mostly at a local level, that could delay the official tally.

"Any delay could open a lot of doubts on the credibility of the electoral process, which could erode the political capital of Senator Aquino," said Benito Lim, political science professor at the Ateneo de Manila University.

"There could be fraud but I believe the numbers were not enough to overturn the outcome of the elections."

A smooth election and the emergence of a clear winner offering the prospect of a clean power transition were seen as a first step towards improving long-term investor sentiment, but challenges or a messy transition period could undermine that.

Prospero Nograles, outgoing speaker of the House of Representatives, said lawmakers would scrutinise the transmitted and printed results from more than 76,000 machines, but were not there to look into protests from losing candidates.

Aquino's allies have expressed concern the allegations of fraud could be an early distraction. The chairman of a committee looking into the claims has said he believed the outgoing administration was behind the initial allegations that prompted the probe, which the government has denied.

"We don't expect any more delay. The earlier we can do it, the better," said Nograles, who had previously said the tallying could take up to June 30 and had called the election process "totally flawed".

On Tuesday, nine senators and nine congress members will begin canvassing vote tallies from 274 provinces, cities, embassies and consulates across the globe.

The Senate will receive printouts of vote tallies from the machines and the House of Representatives will get copies of electronically transmitted results from the machines. Any major discrepancies could delay the declaration of a winner.

A lower house committee has been hearing claims of vote fraud and machine failure since last week.


Reuters

Last Mod: 24 Mayıs 2010, 16:28
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