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Philippines’ automated election holds today


DESPITE scattered violence and a rush to fix a computer glitch, officials have said the Philippines’ first automated presidential and local elections holding today will be a successful test of its fragile democracy.

About 50 million of the country’s 90 million people will vote to elect a new president, vice president and officials to fill nearly 18,000 national and local posts.

Opposition Sen. Benigno Aquino III, the son of revered pro-democracy icons, has topped pre-elections surveys in the nine-way race for the presidency. His rise reflects the longing to fill a moral vacuum in a country exasperated by decades of corruption, poverty and violence.

Aquino’s closest rivals include ousted President Joseph Estrada and Sen. Manuel Villar, the country’s wealthiest politician. A blistering 90-day campaign ended over the weekend, with most candidates promising to steer one of Southeast Asia’s economic laggards back to the path to stability.

Thousands of workers on board military and private aircraft – and some on foot – have delivered optical counting machines to 98 per cent of about 76,300 precincts across the Southeast Asian archipelago, according to Elections Commissioner Rene Sarmiento.

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