Quick Vote Count Stuns Filipinos

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MANILA — Winners and losers did not know what hit them as a barrage of election tallies—first a trickle, then a torrent—confronted them as a result of the Philippines' first automated elections, officials said Tuesday.

The tally came so fast that by Tuesday morning, four top presidential challengers conceded defeat to frontrunner Benigno Aquino III, son of the late President Corazon Aquino, who was assassinated during the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.

The first results came from satellite transmissions — the VSATs and BGANs — from mountainous regions in northern Luzon where there were no regular cell phone sites and the voting populations were small.

At 3 p.m. on Monday, as attention was riveted on TV coverage of the chaos and confusion in the heavily populated voting centers, the Comelec decided to convene as the National Board of Canvassers.

The first results were coming in from Mountain Province at that time.

At around 7 p.m., officials of Smartmatic-TIM, the Comelec’s automation partner, announced that 10,000 precincts had already transmitted results and had printed 30 election returns. By midnight, 57 percent of the precincts had reported results.

Cesar Flores, the company spokesperson, said that 92 to 95 percent of the results should be in by Tuesday midnight.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said that defeated candidates were “a little shell-shocked” when they realized that they had lost the race in just a few hours.

“The candidates, all of them, were taken by surprise,” Jimenez said.

“In the past, they still had time to manipulate the outcome,” said Ramon Casiple of the Comelec advisory council. “That is not the case now,” Casiple said, comparing the electronic vote with the previous manual exercise.