MANILA, MAY 17, 2007 (MALAYA) BY JOCELYN MONTEMAYOR - PRESIDENT Arroyo yesterday expressed confidence that administration candidates and allies will sweep the local positions, including a majority of seats in the House of Representatives.

"The national results are just beginning to be counted but the congressional and local results are almost all in. I believe we will have an even bigger majority in the House and an almost complete sweep of the local chief executives. The elections were good, peaceful, free and fair. There’s going to be political stability," she said in an interview with Wall Street Journal Asia.

Arroyo said with the victory of many of the administration bets, "we can continue on our path of economic reforms towards our pro-growth, pro-poor and pro-modernization agenda."

She, however, was mum about the senatorial elections where, based on the initial tallies, six Genuine Opposition candidates are in the Magic 12 as against four from Team Unity.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said based on the monitoring of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats, at least 67 of the coalition’s congressional candidates in Luzon – 35 Lakas, 16 Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino and 16 Nationalist People’s Coalition – had already been declared as virtual winners along with 26 gubernatorial bets in Luzon – 21 Lakas, four NPC and one Liberal Party.

Among those declared as virtual congressional winners are Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. (Pangasinan, 4th district), presidential sons Juan Miguel Arroyo (Pampanga, 2nd district) and Diosdado Ignacio (Camarines Sur, 1st district), and Ermita’s daughter, reelectionist Rep. Elenita Milagros Ermita-Buhain (Batangas, 1st district).

In the gubernatorial race, former Cabinet secretaries and Arroyo appointees Roberto Pagdanganan (Bulacan) and Joey Salceda (Albay), Laguna Lake development Authority chairman Casimiro Ynares III, and outgoing Lipa City Mayor Vilma Santos were among those declared as virtual winners.

Ermita said the non-mention of the President about the senatorial race should not be misconstrued as giving less importance to the Senate.

He denied that Arroyo has been avoiding public appearances because she was bothered by the poor showing of TU bets in the senatorial race.

Ermita admitted Arroyo did not go all out in campaigning for the TU candidates.

Ermita said the trouncing that Manny Pacquiao got from re-electionist South Cotabato Rep. Darlene Antonino Custodio serves as a "wake up call" for him.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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