MANILA,  May 28, 2004
Sen. Rodolfo Biazon is confident of clinching the 12th place in the senatorial race over his closest rival and fellow K-4 candidate Sen. Robert Barbers.

Biazon is neck and neck with Barbers in the canvassing of votes being conducted by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City.

Although Biazon, who is now in 12th place, enjoys a lead of about 40,000 votes over Barbers, the Comelec could not yet proclaim him pending the results of canvassing of votes from Cotabato and Lanao del Sur.

But according to the Comelec reception and safekeeping committee chairman Adolfo Ibañez, the certificates of canvass from Cotabato will be arriving today together with COCs from a few barangays in Lanao del Sur, where special elections were held only recently.

Cotabato held its elections on May 10 along with the rest of the country but disputes involving local candidates prevented Comelec officials from canvassing the votes.

The canvassing will be held at the Comelec head office in Intramuros, Manila, where the proclamation of the 12th senator is expected tonight.

In the latest Comelec tally, Biazon is clinging to the 12th spot with 10,619,964 votes as against Barbers’ 10,580,221 or a difference of 39,743 votes.

Cotabato City has a total of 121,398 registered voters. However, only 44 percent or 53,308 voters cast their votes.

Based on partial reports of the National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) on the canvassing in Cotabato City which covers 285 precincts, Biazon has garnered a total of 8,367 votes against Barbers’ 5,742 votes, or a lead of 2,262 votes.

"Add the 2,262 votes to the difference of 39,743 votes, my lead now is 42,369 votes. Of course, we are still waiting for the results of the remaining 292 precincts presently being canvassed in Cotabato City," Biazon said.

He also stressed that the 38,000 votes yet to be counted from Cotabato City "cannot overturn his 42,369 lead" over Barbers.

Biazon said that in the beginning of the campaign, his awareness was 99 percent and he was ranking from anywhere from four to six among the senatorial candidates.

"However, after the second month of the campaign and I still did not have the jingle on television and radio, my awareness rating dropped to 77 percent," he said.

Biazon claimed that because of this, 22 percent of Filipino voters or roughly six to seven million "forgot about him," which was why his rating dropped.

The Comelec has already proclaimed the 11 newly elected senators, who garnered the most number of votes.

Proclaimed senators were Manuel Roxas II, Alfredo Lim, Jamby Madrigal, Richard Gordon, Juan Ponce Enrile, Pia Cayetano, Lito Lapid, Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada.

Although re-electionist Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and Miriam-Defensor Santiago were among those who won in the senatorial race, the two failed to make it to the proclamation last Monday. — Cecille Suerte Felipe, Jose Rodel Clapano, Jose Aravilla

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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