MANILA , MAY 12, 2010
(STAR) Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Sen. Benigno “Noynoy”Aquino III is forming a search committee to study the background of everyone applying to serve under his administration.

Aquino said Corazon “Dinky” Soliman, social welfare secretary under the Arroyo administration, has agreed to return to the same Cabinet position.

Aquino said Lakas-Kampi-CMD standard-bearer Gilbert Teodoro Jr., who has conceded defeat, can also join his Cabinet as defense secretary, although questions of nepotism could crop up. Teodoro has said he is not interested in a government position.

Aquino said he would like to make sure that those who would serve under his

administration would be in tune with his ideals and principles.

Aquino said he would like to reduce Cabinet positions, advisers, consultants and streamline agencies to eradicate unnecessary government spending.

Aquino said he would review midnight deals and midnight appointments.

As regards Hacienda Luisita, Aquino said the issue was pending in court and that the farmer-beneficiaries would have to be part of the resolution on whether the property would be distributed among them.

Aquino said his sister, actress and television host Kris Aquino-Yap, would not have any role in his administration.

His girlfriend Shalani Soledad would have to fulfill her duty as councilor of Valenzuela, he added.

Aquino said he would likely form a foundation to perform the role of first lady since he is a bachelor.

He would set up a commission to study whether there would be a need for Charter change, Aquino said.

Aquino: Be vigilant for Roxas

Aquino called for vigilance in ensuring that every vote for his running mate Sen. Manuel Roxas II would be counted “fairly and honestly.”

“Based on partial election results, it’s clear that I have a significant lead over the next contender in the presidential race,” he said.

“I’m grateful to the Filipino people for the support and to our loyal supporters in our people’s campaign who made this achievement possible.

“It has been an honor to share this humbling experience with all of you as we begin to accept the responsibility of leading our nation of over 90 million Filipinos.

“However, our commitment to get integrity from this election was and remains that the vote of each and every Filipino be counted fairly and honestly.”

Aquino wanted to focus on ensuring that every vote for Roxas would be counted.

Roxas is neck-and-neck with Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay in the vice-presidential race, with the local executive slightly ahead.

Aquino called on his supporters to join him in the great task ahead.

“Today, we feel the weight of the nation’s expectations on our shoulder. With God’s grace and your continued support, we shall overcome the divisions that afflict us today.”

As of yesterday, Aquino has refused to celebrate despite his lead in the partial tally of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

“There will be plenty of time for declarations,” he said.

Five presidential candidates, except former President Joseph Estrada and Nicanor Perlas, have conceded to Aquino.

More at ease with Roxas

Aquino said he was more comfortable with Roxas as they had established a good working relationship.

“It’s still different if who we will get is a partner,” he said.

“What we went through during the entire process of the campaign has further strengthened our partnership,” he said.

“The division of labor was clear. The coordination was clear. And that will not be present with me and Binay at the onset, even if he is my friend, it’s not sure that we will have the same view. So we will still have to bond.

“I guess you should ask Mayor Binay… But I really believe that if Mar would emerge the winner, we will hit the ground running. There’s no obstacle for us not to solve the problems of our country.”

Aquino said the fight between Binay and Roxas was very tight and that it was obvious that the bailiwicks of the Makati mayor were counted first.

“Let us first wait (for the complete results),” he said.

Aquino hopes that Roxas could still catch up with Binay, particularly because votes cast from Roxas’ bailiwicks have not been counted yet.

Aquino said he and Roxas have been constantly texting each other for crucial information regarding the election outcome.

Both of them are not giving up yet in the vice-presidential race, he added.

Supporters to Aquino: Tackle poverty, corruption

Supporters of Aquino are hoping the 50-year-old bachelor will complete the family’s mission by tackling the poverty and corruption that have robbed the nation of its economic potential.

Financial consultant Albert Gamboa said Aquino, who has an economics degree and 12 years’ experience as a member of the House of Representatives and senator, should lead the country “to its rightful place in the community of nations.”

“I hope he will do what he said, do away with corruption,” said Andy Ibarra, 50, who studied alongside Aquino at the Ateneo de Manila University.

“We hope to see changes in the next six years but obviously all those who supported him have to continue to help him,” he said.

“We still have to be vigilant once he is president of country.”

In Maguindanao, two voters said they were drawn by Aquino’s vow to crack down on graft and help the poor.

“I voted for him because I think he’s a good man and will provide us with jobs,” Jubaida Lumendo, 42, a mother of six, said of her decision to support Aquino.

Clerk Sitte Lucas, 26, said Aquino “will continue the struggle that his parents started.”

“Besides, there was no better candidate. The others were all corrupt.”

Aquino gets biggest number of OFW votes

Aquino received the biggest number of votes from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Hong Kong and Singapore, the Department of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

Based on results from the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong, 39,383 OFWs out of 95,355 cast their ballots in 96 clustered precincts.

The DFA said unofficial results from Hong Kong showed that Aquino widened his lead over other presidential candidates with 19,606 votes.

He was followed by Eddie Villanueva of Bangon Pilipinas, 8,327 and Manuel Villar Jr. of the Nacionalista Party with 5,622 votes.

Fourth in the presidential race was Lakas-Kampi’s Teodoro (2,556) followed by Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino’s Joseph Estrada (1,980), Bagumbayan’s Richard Gordon (945), Kilusang Bagong Lipunan’s Vetellano Acosta (58), independent candidate Jamby Madrigal (30), Ang Kapatiran’s John Carlos de los Reyes (26) and independent Nicanor Perlas (20).

For vice president, LP’s Roxas got 19,837 votes, followed by Loren Legarda of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, 6,885 and Bangon Pilipinas’s Perfecto Yasay with 6,353 votes.

Garnering fourth place was PDP-Laban’s Binay (4,083), followed by Bagumbayan’s Bayani Fernando (998), Lakas’ Eduardo Manzano (639), KBL’s Jay Sonza (103) and Ang Kapatiran’s Dominador Chipeco (20).

For senator, the top 12 are: Bong Revilla Jr. (22,020); Ralph Recto (20,495); Franklin Drilon (19,982); Jinggoy Estrada (19,946); Miriam Defensor-Santiago (19,739); Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (18,555); Juan Ponce Enrile (16,479); Vicente Sotto III (14,262); Pilar Juliana Cayetano (13,817); Serge Osmeña III (11,690); Jose de Venecia III (11,263), and Teofisto Guingona III (10,853).

In Singapore, 9,588 out of 31,851 cast their ballots in 32 clustered precincts.

Unofficial results showed Aquino led the presidential race with 4,949 votes, followed by Villar (1,314) and Gordon (1,105).

At fourth place was Teodoro (1,024), followed by Villanueva (711), Estrada (345), Madrigal (19), Perlas (19), Acosta (17) and De los Reyes (12).

For vice president, Roxas led candidates with 5,017 votes, followed by Legarda (1,617) and Fernando (1,060).

Following them are: Binay (1,056), Yasay (386), Manzano (247), Sonza (71) and Chipeco (15).

For senator, the top 12 are: Recto (5,651); Defensor-Santiago (5,534); Drilon (5,472); Cayetano (4,394); Revilla (4,373); Osmeña (4,085); Marcos (3,906); Enrile (3,899); Guingona (3,825); Sotto (3,711); Estrada (3,120); Sonia Roco (2,679), and; De Venecia (2,679).

A total of 134,000 registered overseas voters participated in overseas absentee voting. This surpassed the 2007 voter turnout of 81,732 but still a low turnout. - Aurea Calica, Ric Sapnu, Delon Porcalla, Pia Lee-Brago, AP

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved