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MANILA, Philippines — Former President Joseph Estrada was declared the winner of Manila’s mayoral election today, his first ballot victory since his ouster in a 2001 anti-corruption revolt and a possible prelude to a return to higher office.
Estrada’s was among a host of familiar names, including former first lady Imelda Marcos, to score wins in Monday’s congressional and local elections. About half the votes have been counted so far, and if they accurately reflect the whole, President Benigno Aquino III will have enough congressional support to enact his policies in his last three years in office.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Aquino has described the election as a referendum on his administration.
“It seems clear that our countrymen have spoken overwhelmingly to confirm and expand the mandate for reform and change that they first granted in 2010 to President Aquino,” Lacierda said.
Estrada is a leader of the opposition coalition, but Lacierda said he and Aquino remain “good friends” and will be able to work together.
Estrada, 76, capitalized on his movie-star popularity, particularly among the poor, and promised to reverse urban decay of the historic capital along Manila Bay. Manila was once a lively tourist spot, but the streets have become neglected and many residents complain of crime.
“I have no other desire in the final years of my life than to offer my experience in public service, to give everything I can to uplift the poor,” Estrada told supporters after he was proclaimed the winner at a stadium.
“Manila has been left behind by its neighbors. We will revive the vigor of Manila that we can be proud of,” he said.
Estrada, popularly known as Erap, had served for nearly 20 years as mayor of nearby San Juan city, senator and vice president. After his presidential term was cut short by the 2001 revolt, he was convicted of corruption, then pardoned.
Estrada, who finished second in the 2010 presidential election, could use his new position as a springboard for another shot at the presidency.
He defeated incumbent Mayor Alfredo Lim, an 83-year-old former Manila police chief who once served in Estrada’s Cabinet as interior secretary. Under Lim’s watch, eight Hong Kong tourists were killed by a hostage-taker in 2010 in a bungled police rescue. An investigation found him liable and negligent.
Political dynasties and familiar names continue to monopolize political life in the Philippines. Marcos, the 83-year-old widow of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, won her second consecutive term as congresswoman of Ilocos Norte province. Daughter Imee ran unopposed and was re-elected governor.
Aquino’s predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, is in hospital detention while facing corruption charges but still appears headed to a second term as a representative of her northern home province of Pampanga. Her son, Dato Arroyo, is ahead in the congressional race in Camarines Sur province southeast of Manila.
Twelve of the 24 Senate seats were up for election, and if early results hold up, Estrada’s son JV Ejercito will be among the winners, joining a half-brother who is already a senator. Others among the top 12 for Senate seats include Aquino’s cousin Benigno “Bam” Aquino. Two-thirds of the Senate candidates in position to win belong to one of the country’s dominant elite political families.
Elections Commission Chairman Sixto Brillantes said he expects turnout of 70 percent out of more than 52 million registered voters. He said that most, if not all, of Senate winners will be proclaimed by late Wednesday.