Philippines Names Estrada President
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Congress today proclaimed Vice President Joseph Estrada _ a college dropout who made it big in movies and then became a bigger star in politics _ the Philippines’ next president.
The proclamation came a day after Estrada’s main rival, administration candidate Jose de Venecia, conceded defeat in the 10-member race to succeed President Fidel Ramos.
De Venecia, speaker of the House, congratulated Estrada as the members of Congress cheered loudly.
The proclamation _ coming 18 days after the May 11 elections _ set a record in recent Philippine politics and suggests the transfer of power to the main opposition party will be far more peaceful than many politicians expected.
Normally, Congress spends several weeks verifying the returns in the presidential and vice presidential races before proclaiming the victors. In the last election in 1992, Ramos was declared winner after nearly a month of disputes.
But this year, Congress finished most of its review in just eight hours.
``The peaceful transfer of power is important to show the political maturity of the Filipino people,″ said Sen. Franklin Drilon, the Senate delegation leader in the two-chamber proclamation committee.
The general elections were also among the Philippines’ most peaceful ever, although at least 45 people were killed.
Estrada gained a devoted following, particularly among the country’s many poor, during several decades as an actor in B movies, playing tough guys who stood up against injustice.
He parlayed his popularity into a successful political career, first as mayor of a Manila suburb, then as a senator and vice president.
Estrada, whose inauguration is June 30, says he will continue most of Ramos’ policies but will focus on helping the poor and agriculture. He also has pledged to crack down on official corruption and solve the country’s severe crime problem within six months.
According to the tabulation by Congress, Estrada led the presidential race with 10.7 million votes. De Venecia, the administration candidate, was a distant second, with 4.3 million.
In the vice presidential race, administration candidate Sen. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, an economist and daughter of former President Diosdado Macapagal, had 12.6 million votes. Estrada’s running mate, Sen. Edgardo Angara, got 5.6 million.
Filipinos vote separately for president and vice president.