MANILA, Philippines?The vice presidential race is still a toss-up between Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay and Sen. Manuel Roxas II because some five million votes from more than 8,000 precincts?the largest of which are in the presumed bailiwicks of Binay and Roxas, have yet to be counted.
As small increments of votes slowly raised the tallies, Binay got 13,448,673 votes (40.77 percent of the votes counted so far), giving him a lead of 793,358 votes over Roxas as of the 8:09 p.m. count Thursday by the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV). Roxas had 12,655,315 votes (38.37 percent).
The figures represent the consolidated results from 68,711 precincts, or 89.85 percent of the 76,475 precincts nationwide.
The close fight has fueled an exchange of charges between the two candidates, with Binay accusing Roxas? camp of planning to rig results and Roxas contending that the fight has yet to be won.
In the presidential race, Liberal Party standard-bearer Benigno Aquino III was still enjoying a comfortable lead of more than 5 million over nearest rival former President Joseph Estrada.
The next President
Aquino got 13,805,154 votes, or 41.85 of total votes counted so far, while Estrada garnered 8,730,387.
Manuel Villar, the first presidential candidate to concede to Aquino, received 4,996,923 votes, while administration candidate Gilbert Teodoro Jr. got 3,667,441 votes.
Aquino and Roxas continued to lead the count from votes cast by overseas Filipinos in 28 embassies and consulates general.
At a press conference, Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo, who called Aquino ?our next president,? said he did so because the senator was leading the count by a wide margin over his closest rival, Estrada, in the Commission on Elections (Comelec) tally.
Based on the 11:09 a.m. update of the PPCRV, ballots from 995 precincts in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) had yet to be counted.
Perennially problematic ARMM, where Binay was leading, recorded the largest number of precincts that have yet to ?transmit? election returns to the PPCRV server at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila.
In Basilan, 41 precincts have yet to transmit returns; Lanao del Sur, 488; Maguindanao, 190; Sulu, 195 and Tawi-Tawi, 81?representing 29.45 percent of all the precincts in the region.
?Let me just qualify that when we say ?still to transmit? it doesn?t mean that these precincts have not transmitted at all,? said Ana de Villa-Singson, PPCRV media and communications director in an interview with reporters.
But not downloaded
?It is possible that election returns have been transmitted to the Comelec server but have not yet been downloaded into the Pius server that we?re all dependent on,? Singson added.
Updates on the tallies came in trickles Thursday as the files being transmitted to the PPCRV, the citizen?s arm of the Comelec, were getting as big as 90 million lines. ?That?s why it?s getting very difficult to download,? Singson said.
The bulk of votes coming from Central Visayas?which early on had been labeled as a Roxas country for giving him the largest votes over Binay?have also yet to be included in the latest tallies in the presidential, vice presidential and senatorial races.
Central Visayas accounted for 949 precincts or 17 percent of the total precincts in the region, where votes have yet to be tallied: Bohol, 213; Negros Oriental, 213; Siquijor, 12.
Vote-rich Cebu pro-Noy
The largest number of poll precincts (511) whose election returns have yet to be tallied was traced to vote-rich Cebu, which also gave most of the votes to Aquino.
Votes from 746 precincts or 8.01 percent of the precincts in Southern Tagalog, where Binay was leading, have yet to be counted, too.
The PPCRV was also still waiting for the transmission of election returns from 263 precincts in the Cordillera Administrative Region; 215 from Caraga; 596 from Ilocos; 251 from Cagayan Valley; 701 from Central Luzon and 257 from Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan).
Votes from 314 precincts in the Zamboanga Peninsula (Region 9) have yet to be included in the latest count, according to the Comelec?s citizen?s arm.
Election returns from Bicol region, which was split in terms of delivering votes to Binay and Roxas, have also yet to be counted.
Only ballots from nine precincts in Metro Manila have yet to be processed. These precincts were in Taguig-Pateros, noted Singson. With a report from Cynthia D. Balana