Marcos, Aquino Both Claim Victory : Returns Slow and Conflicting; Fraud, Violence Reported
As President Ferdinand E. Marcos and opposition candidate Corazon Aquino both predicted victory on the basis of slow and conflicting returns today, the government threatened to halt a citizens count showing Aquino ahead.
There was no overall tally from several agencies trying to count votes in an election marked by numerous reports of voter fraud and violence. Police said at least 26 people were killed.
U.S. officials and other observers watching the election criticized the slow count. Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), co-leader of a 20-member observer group sent by President Reagan, raised the possibility that the official count was being delayed as the government assessed “really how big a problem they have.”
“I conjecture the government may be deeply concerned about the results,” he said.
“The trend is clear and irreversible. The people and I have won and know it,” Aquino, a 53-year-old political novice and widow of assassinated opposition leader Begnino S. Aquino Jr., said in a statement.
Marcos, who has ruled the country for 20 years, said earlier that the vote returns “indicate I probably have won these elections.”
The independent National Movement for Free Elections, or NAMFREL, showed Aquino leading Marcos 883,220 to 614,432 with only a small fraction of unofficial returns in from among 26 million registered voters.
But the national Commission on Elections threatened to stop NAMFREL’s count.
“We will not hesitate to stop NAMFREL’s quick count to prevent them from misleading the people into believing that one candidate has won,” Commissioner Jaime Opinion told reporters as the official count produced results from only a handful of precincts 10 hours after polls closed across the island nation.
Media Poll Count ’86, a cooperative of pro-Marcos newspapers, said unofficial results showed Marcos leading by 2,947,190 votes to Aquino’s 2,428,756.
Pressure From U.S.
Marcos, 68, called the special election more than a year before his term was to end as a test of his popularity. The United States, which has two large military bases in the Philippines, has pressured Marcos to make military, economic and social reforms and to quell a growing communist rebel threat.
The vice presidential contest between Marcos ally Arturo Tolentino and opposition candidate Salvador Laurel will give the country its first direct successor to the presidency in 13 years.
Marcos, interviewed by satellite on the NBC “Today” show, said that vote counts indicate “that I probably have won these elections.”
In a statement from her headquarters after she voted, Aquino told backers that she feels “stronger than ever” that she has won, and that men and women “protecting the ballot” will make sure that the real count is known.
A conclusive, official count by the election committee was not due until Monday. However, officials said it could be sooner depending on how fast results come in from remote areas and how tight the race is.