MANILA, Philippines – Former President Joseph Estrada was proclaimed Tuesday as the new mayor of the Philippine capital, his first elected post since he was ousted in an anti-corruption revolt 12 years ago.
In other partial results from Monday's congressional and local elections, nine senatorial candidates backed by President Benigno Aquino III took an early lead against three candidates backed by an opposition coalition. About half the votes have been reported so far, and if the trend continues, the wins will ensure congressional support for Aquino's remaining three years in office.
Estrada, 76, capitalized on his movie-star popularity, particularly among the poor, and promised to reverse urban decay of the historic city along Manila Bay. The capital was once a lively tourist spot, but the streets have become neglected and many residents complain of crime.
"I have no other desire in the final years of my life than to offer my experience in public service, to give everything I can to uplift the poor," he told supporters after he was proclaimed at a stadium.
Estrada, popularly known as Erap, had served for nearly 20 years as mayor of nearby San Juan city, senator and vice president. Landing second in the 2010 presidential election, he could use his new position as a springboard for another shot at the presidency after his first term was cut short by the 2001 revolt. He was later convicted of corruption then pardoned.
"Manila has been left behind by its neighbors. We will revive the vigor of Manila that we can be proud of," Estrada said.
He defeated incumbent Mayor Alfredo Lim, a white-haired 83-year-old former Manila police chief who once served in his Cabinet as interior secretary. Under Lim's watch, eight Hong Kong tourists were killed by a hostage-taker in 2010 in a bungled police rescue. An investigation found him liable and negligent.
As proof that political dynasties and familiar names continue to monopolize political life in the Philippines, Imelda Marcos, 83, won her second consecutive term as congresswoman of Ilocos Norte province. Daughter Imee ran unopposed and was re-elected governor.
Estrada's son JV Ejercito was among the top 12 vote-getters in the senatorial race, according to early results, and if elected, would join his half-brother who is already a senator. Others leading in the vote-count include Aquino's cousin, Benigno "Bam" Aquino. Out of the dozen, only four did not belong to dominant elite political families.
Elections Commission Chairman Sixto Brillantes said he expects turnout of 70 percent out of more than 52 million registered voters. He said that most, if not all, of the 12 winners who contested half the 24 Senate seats will be proclaimed by late Wednesday.
The Aquino administration is confident they will maintain the majority in the House of Representatives and the focus of the electoral battle was on the Senate, traditionally a springboard for the presidency, said Ramon Casiple, head of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform.
"The implication of a Senate that is his ally is that he will have the needed support for his policies and programs," Casiple said. "Definitely he will not be a lame duck for the next three years because of that, much more if he maintains his popularity. This means they will be more in a position to contest the 2016 presidential elections on a more stable foundation."
Associated Press writers Hrvoje Hranjski and Jim Gomez contributed to this report.
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