MANILA,  May 14, 2004
By Mike Frialde   -  President Arroyo and her vice presidential running mate, Sen. Noli de Castro, were leading in the National Movement for Free Elections’ (Namfrel) quick count as of 5 p.m. yesterday.

Mrs. Arroyo was ahead of her nearest rival Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) standard-bearer, actor Fernando Poe Jr. by as much as 86,746 more votes. The President got 912,807 votes while Poe got only 826,061 votes.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson was still in third place with 275,850 votes while evangelist Eduardo Villanueva and former senator Raul Roco had 146,310 and 125,826 votes, respectively.

In the vice presidential race, De Castro has an even bigger lead against Poe’s running mate, Sen. Loren Legarda. De Castro got 1,092,290 votes compared with Legarda’s 996,587 votes or a difference of 95,703 votes. Herminio Aquino and Rodolfo Pajo, on the other hand, got 81,011 and 2,394 votes, respectively.

According to Namfrel, Mrs. Arroyo and De Castro were also the top choices of overseas Filipino voters in five countries.

Namfrel secretary-general Guillermo Luz said that Mrs. Arroyo got 21,240 votes out of a total of 44,118 votes so far counted from among the overseas votes. De Castro, meanwhile, got 23,776 votes.

The votes were from Brunei, Italy, Japan, Singapore and the United States, which were the first to send over their complete reports to the Namfrel quick count center in La Salle Greenhills.

Namfrel has also fielded volunteers to watch over elections in Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates and the Marianas group of islands. Reports from these countries are expected soon.

Trailing Mrs. Arroyo in the overseas votes were Poe (9,536 votes), Roco (5,943 votes), Villanueva, (3,822 votes), and Lacson (3,577 votes).

In the vice presidential race, Legarda got 15,720 of the overseas votes, Alyansa ng Pag-asa’s Herminio Aquino got 3,415 votes while independent Rodolfo Pajo got 230 votes.

Meanwhile, the senatorial race in the five countries was dominated by action star Bong Revilla who got 23,866 votes. He was followed by Miriam Defensor-Santiago (23,065), Orly Mercado (22,583); Alfredo Lim (22,290), Aquilino Pimentel (21, 275), John Osmeña (20,777), Ernesto Maceda (19,915), Juan Ponce Enrile (18,627), Francisco Tatad (18,226), Rodolfo Biazon (18,195), Manuel Lito Lapid (17,947), Heherson Alvarez (17,100), Richard Gordon (16,430), Mar Roxas (16,146), and Robert Barbers (15,586).

Luz said that this is the first time that Namfrel volunteers were fielded in foreign countries. The overseas votes are listed as region 17 in Namfrel’s tabulation reports.

"For the first time we have overseas volunteers. For the first time we are getting reports from the overseas volunteers. So you will see who is winning per country," he said.

Winning administration candidates yesterday expressed confidence that Mrs. Arroyo’s lead will be sustained.

"The President is winning even in areas that are not her bailiwick. In contrast, Poe lost even in his own barangay," Cebu Rep. Joseph "Ace" Durano said.

The latest Namfrel count in Davao City also has Mrs. Arroyo in the lead, according to Davao City Rep. Vincent Garcia.

In Pampanga, Rep. Oscar Rodriguez said that Mrs. Arroyo and De Castro have garnered 80 percent of votes in their towns.

De Castro called on all winning local candidates yesterday to develop their version of Mrs. Arroyo’s six-point agenda of governance.

"Doable local projects that will have high impact locally and nationally, in sustainable focus and speed, are those aligned to the six-point agenda of the President," he said.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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