MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine lawmakers proclaimed Benigno Aquino III as the country’s 15th president on Wednesday, with the opposition senator winning by the widest election margin since democracy was restored via a people power revolt in 1986.
Aquino, a 50-year-old bachelor and only son of the Philippines’ revered democracy leader Cory Aquino, bagged 15.2 million votes, or 42 percent, of 36.3 million votes cast for president, based on the official Congress tally.
He won by more than 5.7 million votes over his nearest rival, former President Joseph Estrada, in the country’s first nationwide automated vote count.
His political allies and cheering supporters filled the Congress session hall, chanting his nickname “Noynoy” as lawmakers declared Aquino, son of the late President Corazon Aquino and assassinated opposition senator Benigno Jr., as the Southeast Asian nation’s next leader.
His four sisters, including popular actress and TV host Kris, and his politician girlfriend were also in the gallery.
“We are happy that the process was finished and it is certain now that we are taking our oath on June 30,” Aquino, wearing the Filipino formal Barong Tagalog shirt made from pineapple and coconut fibres, told reporters after his proclamation.
“But there is still anxiety over the many problems facing the country and there is our intention to solve these problems as soon as possible.
Estrada, ousted in a popular uprising in 2001 and later convicted and imprisoned in 2007 on plunder charges only to be pardoned weeks later, accepted his political defeat.
“I join our people in extending unqualified support to the new president with both hope and prayers he will serve our country faithfully and will perform his duties honourably without fear or favour,” Estrada said in a statement read by his senator-son Jinggoy.
The uncontested poll result will help ensure a smooth transition of power and allow Aquino to appoint his cabinet and draw up his policy agenda before taking office on June 30.
Aquino said he would announce members of his cabinet shortly.