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Heavy turnout in Philippines presidential election
Former movie star ahead in exit polls
May 11, 1998
CNN interactive

MANILA, Philippines (CNN) -- Filipinos voted for a new president Monday in a contest dominated by Vice President Joseph Estrada, a former movie star loved by the masses but opposed by the
country's traditional elite.

Turnout was heavy, and exit polls showed that Estrda,
a self-styled advocate of the poor, was far ahead of nine
rivals. Final results were not expected for about two weeks.

Although there were about 40 deaths linked to election
violence, this was fewer than in recent Philippine elections.
Seven of those deaths, including those of two mayoral
candidates, occurred Monday.
erap.jpg (9041 bytes)

Estrada's closest challenger, the ruling party candidate and House Speaker Jose de Venecia, was in distant second place.

A L S O :

Estrada: loved by the poor, not much by the elite Ballots were cast nationwide for more than 17,000 provincial and local officials.

Estrada, 61, who portrayed tough guys with a soft spot for the needy in his movies, admits
to hard drinking and womanizing and says he has little knowledge of economics. But he predicted victory, calling the presidency "the last and greatest performance of my life."

"There are many who are called but few who are chosen," he said after casting his ballot. "I feel good to be one of the chosen."

Estrada also said he would solve the country's crime problem within six months.

Among Estrada's harshest critics is Manila's influential archbishop, Cardinal Jaime Sin, who has warned that an Estrada presidency could be disastrous for the country because he would be a poor role model.

President Fidel Ramos, who by law cannot seek a second term, has backed de Venecia, while former President Corazon Aquino supports former Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, a former police chief.

Business groups hope for almost any candidate other than Estrada, fearing he would dismantle the economic progress made under Ramos.

Violence mars polling

Well over 100,000 soldiers and 26,000 police had been deployed in an attempt to prevent election violence, and army vehicles escorted election materials into some of the more volatile areas.

On Monday, in Malabang in the southern Lanao del Sur province, gunmen fired at poll watchers, killing two and injuring at least six, police said.

Two other political workers were fatally shot in Buting in the same province.

Mayoral candidates were fatally shot in Lagayan in Abra province and on Pata island in Sulu province. And a man was stabbed to death in a Manila suburb in a fight between two political groups.

Before polls opened, a bomb exploded at polling station in a school in Paoay in Ilocos Norte province. It caused damage but no injuries, police said.

A reorganization of voting precincts added to the confusion. Election failures were declared in at least 10 towns and villages because of a shortage of helicopters to transport ballots or due to an absence of election personnel -- some of whom fled in light of the shootings.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
*picture of Vice Pres. Joseph Estrada lifted from BBC News

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