|6 presidential bets see
The Philippine Star
As far as six of the Philippines' presidential bets are concerned, it'sall over but the
counting. And they're all winners.
With election day still two days away, Vice President JosephEstrada and five other
presidential aspirants are already ringing thebells of victory and issuing claims of
landslide wins in Monday's
Estrada, standard bearer of the opposition Laban ng MakabayangMasang Pilipino (LAMMP),
said he can already taste the sweetnessof victory after he was endorsed by the Iglesia ni
Cristo and after hetopped a mock poll conducted among members of the religiousgroup El
Other candidates, however, are also laying the same claims.
Speaker Jose de Venecia of the ruling Lakas party said his victory isat
hand while Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Raul Rocoexpressed optimisim they would
sweep the presidential race.
Not to be outdone, former Defense Secretary Renato de Villa andformer Manila Mayor Alfredo
Lim said they would be unbeatablecome Monday.
Estrada, who is the favorite among the 10 presidential aspirants,was given a blessing by
Catholic priest Sonny Ramirez in a Thanksgiving Mass held at the Pinaglabanan Shrine in
San Juan, the
Vice President's hometown where he started his political career as a mayor 28 years ago.
Ramirez, in his homily, addressed Estrada as "Mr. President" and asked God to
give him wisdom in leading the country.
"Erap, don't forget God. Pray every day because you will face many
difficulties. You will have plenty of enemies after you become president," Ramirez
Estrada attended the noon Mass with his wife Loi and two of their grown-up children.
In his short speech, Estrada said he is thankful to God "for blessing us all the way
during our campaign." He said he has only one ambition in life and that is "to
serve the millions of Filipinos who are poor."
After the Mass, Ramirez and other priests shouted, "Long live the President!"
The Mass coincided with the release of the results of a mock poll conducted among members
of El Shaddai in Metro Manila and seven nearby provinces which showed Estrada being the
The survey, done by the Asia Research Organization, involved 1,350 members, of which 25
percent said they would vote for Estrada.
In other developments:
* De Venecia announced he is confident of winning over Estrada in Monday's polls even as
he criticized Estrada for acting smug and starting to name members of his future Cabinet.
* Santiago held a mammoth miting de avance in Iloilo City last night where she expressed
optimism that the "Miriam Magic" will still prevail come election day.
* Roco, who will hold his own miting de avance in Naga City tonight, topped a mock poll
among bankers and executives while another informal poll among Catholic priests showed Lim
* De Villa expressed optimism the Reporma machinery already set up in almost 80 percent of
the archipelago will ensure his victory in the polls.
De Venecia, after holding a grand rally at the Liwasang Bonifacio last Thursday, said he
would beat Estrada hands down, claiming the electorate would not vote for someone who
"hides behind the shadow of his advisers."
He lambasted Estrada for announcing earlier a number of persons he would appoint to his
Cabinet, saying this only proves that Estrada could not function well without advisers.
"He should not be too dependent on his advisers. His should be a government in which
the president should run it and not one which is being run by advisers," he said.
De Venecia also reminded Estrada not to count his chicks before they are hatched since the
elections are far from being over.
"Estrada has no candidate in one-third of the Philippines. For me not being
represented in 30 percent of the voting precincts is like conceding defeat already. He
cannot even produce a crowd of 50,000 like we have in our provincial sorties and miting de
avance. And to think that he has been tagging along all his movie stars wherever he goes.
We are going to win these elections," he said.
De Venecia has been endorsed by the Jesus Is Lord (JIL) movement, a religious group equal
in strength to the El Shaddai which allegedly backs Estrada.
Meanwhile, Santiago said that judging from the immense turnout of people in her rallies
and motorcades, she is very sure of her and her running mate Sen. Francisco
"Kit" Tatad's victory in the polls.
"We will surprise self-deluding groups," Santiago said.
"Our desperate opponents have failed in manipulating the minds of the people by
rehashing results of spurious surveys. The immense
support we have shows that these surveys have no relation to reality."
Santiago has remained in the heat of the campaign despite the recent death of her younger
brother. After her mammoth rally in her hometown in Iloilo last night, she is scheduled to
hold a grand motorcade in Metro Manila today.
She said results of pre-election surveys have not daunted her a bit. In fact, for her,
surveys don't matter.
"These are hard times. Maybe survey firms are also doing cost-cutting measures and
merely shaving some points from certain candidates to boost the ratings of their favored
For Roco and Lim, however, surveys do matter.
In a recent poll among 330 employees of Bankard, Roco topped all presidential aspirants,
getting almost half of the votes.
Roco, who has been figuring prominently in surveys done in schools and
among women's groups, said he and his running mate Irene "Inday" Santiago are
confident they can pull an upset in the actual elections.
Roco's Aksyon Demokratiko group will hold its miting de avance in Naga City where the
senator grew up and where he is a registered voter. The miting will be preceded by a
would start from Legaspi City.
A consistent topnotcher in previous elections, Roco claims to have received 12.5 million
votes in the 1995 senatorial polls, higher than Estrada's 10 million when he ran for
senator in 1987.
In Manila, a mock poll among priests under Jaime Cardinal Sin showed Lim being the
Fr. Aris Sison, Sin's spokesman, told a radio station that Lim got 122 votes from priests
in various parts of Metro Manila for a whopping 71 percent. Roco placed second with 31
votes and De Villa placed third with six votes.
Sison made it clear that the mock poll was only meant to find out the choice of the clergy
and not to endorse Lim's candidacy.
Lim was formally cleared yesterday by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) which
dismissed a disqualification case against him on the issue of his citizenship (see related
As this developed, De Villa said he is strongly confident of winning on Monday despite his
low standing in surveys.
De Villa, who will lead his Reporma party's miting de avance at the Quezon Memorial Circle
in Quezon City today, said "it is time for the people to make a stand against
everything that was wrong and evil in this country."
The former defense chief said they have put everything in place in Luzon, Visayas and
Mindanao, banking on 33 huge volunteer groups for assistance in campaigning and poll
watching. He estimates Reporma's total membership at around 10 million.
De Villa said his running mate Oscar Orbos will steal much of votes coming from Pangasinan
from De Venecia, being former governor of the province.
He is also counting on Mindanao since his wife Monica is a native of Dipolog City.
"And we have put in place anti-cheating mechanisms," De Villa said. "We
will make sure that the people's will would prevail."
In a related development, the Comelec announced that all votes bearing the name
"Santiago" would only be counted for Senator Santiago and not for Santiago
Dumlao who is also running for
The Comelec based its decision on a section of the Omnibus Election Code which that states
when "on the ballot is written a word which is the first name of a candidate and
which at the same
time is the surname of his opponent, the vote shall be counted in favor of the