Ramos Coalition Boasts of Lead; Death Toll Rises
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ President Fidel Ramos’ coalition boasted today it would capture at least 10 of 12 Senate seats in national elections. Military gunships attacked supporters of a mayoral candidate who clashed with marines, and the elections-related death toll climbed to 40.
Imelda Marcos, widow of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, led in the race for House of Representatives from Leyte Island. Her son, Ferdinand ``Bongbong″ Marcos Jr., had dropped to 17th place in his Senate race.
The electoral commission proclaimed the balloting Monday to be ``generally peaceful,″ but the death toll rose today as reports of violence came in from across the country. Police said 40 people were killed since the eve of Monday’s balloting, bringing the number of politically motivated killings this year to more than 70.
Complete, official results from Monday’s election are expected in three weeks. Early, unofficial tallies by media and church groups showed Ramos-backed candidates leading for 10 Senate seats. Fewer than 8 percent of precincts were tabulated nationally.
Voters on Monday chose 12 senators, 204 members of the House of Representatives and thousands of local officials.
Indications of a 10-2 Senate win are ``the worst the coalition expects,″ spokesman Ruben Torres said, basing his predictions on the unofficial count of the National Movement for Free Elections.
``If the early election results hold, and we are confident they will even improve, then the people have given the president a resounding approval for his economic and political reforms,″ Torres said.
The most serious election violence occurred in predominantly Muslim areas of the southern Philippines.
Details were sketchy, but marines clashed late Monday with armed supporters of mayoral candidate Khan Tulawie on Jolo Island. Officials said eight of Tulawie’s supporters were killed and five marines were wounded.
Today, helicopter gunships rocketed and strafed Tulawie’s followers, believed to have dug in positions on Jolo, but fighting continued, Maj. Gen. Edgardo Batenga said. Clashes between rival factions of the Tulawie clan postponed balloting in the area Monday.
In other election-related unrest:
_Nine people died Monday in Cagayan province, 250 miles north of Manila.
_In Mabini, 30 miles south of Manila, gunmen killed a member of the Board of Canvassers today when she refused to surrender a ballot box, police said.
_A former mayor of the Cagayan town of Claveria was killed when a grenade exploded as he wrestled with a man before polling began. No details were available on the election-related death of a man in Enrile, another Cagayan town about 250 miles north of Manila.
_Late Monday, a grenade exploded at a school in Maguindanao province where ballots were being counted, killing one person. A candidate’s relative died in an ambush Monday night in Capiz province, police said.
_Angry crowds threw stones at police in Angeles City, former home of the U.S.-run Clark Air Base, to protest alleged vote fraud. They were dispersed early today, but at least 25 people were reported injured and vote counting was suspended for several hours.
_In Olongapo City, former site of the U.S. Subic Bay naval base, police fired a water cannon late Monday to disperse 1,000 opponents of a mayoral candidate.