Aquino’s decisive win to boost Philippine markets

* Frontrunner Aquino romps ahead in unofficial tallies

* Former President Estrada trails a distant second

* Turnout 75 percent despite delays due to technical faults

* Polling day death toll of 9 low by Philippine standards

By Manny Mogato and Andrew Marshall

MANILA, May 11 (BestGrowthStock) – Philippine financial markets
were set for a boost on Tuesday after national elections
delivered the result many investors hoped for — a decisive and
credible victory for presidential frontrunner Benigno “Noynoy”
Aquino.

Techical problems with a new automated system of voting and
results tallying forced many to wait for hours to cast their
ballots in Monday’s polls — including Aquino himself who faced
a four-hour delay. But fears of a wholesale failure of the
election due to technical problems or violence failed to
materialise.

An unofficial tally with 57 percent of votes counted showed
Aquino well in front with 40.6 percent, ahead of former
President Joseph Estrada in second place with 25.7 percent, the
Commission on Elections (Comelec) said. [ID:SGE6490U3]

That was in line with opinion polls which gave Aquino a
commanding 20-point lead.

Comelec put turnout at 75 percent — 10 points lower than
forecast but still high enough to dispel concerns the polls to
elect Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s successor would lack
credibility.

<^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

For full coverage of election, click on [ID:nPHVOTE]

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>

The broadly successful ballot — despite technical
problems, shootings and bombings in some remote areas and
allegations of vote buying — is a relief for domestic
financial markets that feared a failed vote above all other
outcomes.

That, along with a bounce in global markets on the rescue
package for the Euro zone, was set to lower the risk premium
priced into Philippine assets when local markets reopen on
Tuesday, with attention turning to Aquino’s policy agenda and
in particular how he plans to get the fiscal deficit under
control.

“If all goes smoothly and the president is proclaimed on
time, I think the market will react positively,” said Barclays
Capital economist Prakriti Sofat in Singapore.

“However, market participants will be keen to hear the
strategy of the next government to address fiscal concerns.”

In a country where family ties play a key role in politics,
Aquino owes much of his popularity to his parents: his father
was an opposition leader assassinated during the rule of
Ferdinand Marcos, and his mother Cory took up the mantle and
won office during the People Power revolution that drove Marcos
from office.

LESS VIOLENCE THAN FEARED

Polling-day bomb and grenade attacks and shootings killed
at least nine people with 12 wounded, the military said.

But in a country long used to widespread election-related
violence and intimidation, particularly on the southern island
of Mindanao where Muslim and Communist insurgencies have
festered for years, Monday’s casualty toll was seen as
remarkably low.

Much of the violence was in Maguindanao province on
Mindanao, where 57 people were killed in an election-related
massacre last November [ID:nSGE6440E3], and on Basilan island.

Philippine police chief Director-General Jesus Verzosa said
in a statement that the elections “will go down in our nation’s
history as probably the most peaceful and orderly political
exercise ever held in our land”.

The use of a new and untested automated voting system,
designed to make electoral fraud more difficult, posed a major
risk for the polls. Concerns rose last week following the
recall of more than 76,000 memory chips after a fault was
found.

With temperatures climbing above 36 degrees Celsius (97
Fahrenheit) in crowded polling stations on Monday, officials
nervously fanned some ballot machines to try to prevent them
overheating after voting got under way.

Long queues formed outside many polling stations, and the
confusion prompted election commission Comelec to extend voting
by an hour. Problems were also reported with some voter lists.
But overall, the election went smoother than expected.

Tackling corruption and reducing poverty were key themes of
the election campaign, but candidates were vague on details.

Among the challenges for the new president will be trying
to reinvigorate an economy that has fallen behind its Southeast
Asian peers, both in terms of growth potential and as an
investment destination. Markets also want to see the next
president quickly tackle the country’s parlous fiscal position.

“I voted for Noynoy,” said Liza Pascual, a 45-year-old
clerk who queued through the morning to vote in Manila. “Let’s
see if he can really fulfil his promise to bring change to the
Philippines, we are relying on his promises.”

Although Arroyo is leaving the presidency, she was on
course to win a seat in the Congress lower house of parliament.
Analysts say one risk for Aquino is that Arroyo builds a
powerbase in Congress that allows her to be a thorn in his
side.
Investing Analysis

(Additional reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr; Writing by Andrew
Marshall; Editing by Jerry Norton)

Aquino’s decisive win to boost Philippine markets