Start of potentially stormy count of presidential votes

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Published at : 18 Oct 2020
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1. Wide shot of Philippine senators and congressmen about to open ballot box

2. Wide shot of congress hall

3. Senate President Franklin Drilon opening ballot box

4. Crowd at public viewing area

5. Drilon pulling out blue folder from ballot box

6. Congressmen

7. Senators and congressmen with other ballot boxes in foreground

8. Senators and congressmen inspecting documents

9. Journalists

10. Wide of congress hall



STORYLINE:



Congress in the Philippines on Monday started a potentially explosive count of May 10 presidential ballots, with camps of both incumbent Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and film star Fernando Poe Jr. claiming victory and issuing threats if their candidate is cheated out of a win.



Riot police guarded access roads around the Congress building as security was tightened for the vote count.



Congressional leaders announced the members of a 22-member committee that will do the actual count, which was expectedly dominated by pro-Arroyo legislators, then unlocked the first of more than 200 ballot boxes in a symbolic act to kick off the counting process.



The actual count is expected to begin in a few days.



Lawyers and lawmakers allied with Poe said they would present evidence proving the popular actor was cheated of more than 2 (m) million votes - enough to overturn claims that Arroyo won by a (m) million votes, his party said.



Arroyo's camp has denied committing fraud, and instead accused Poe's camp of cheating in a number of provinces.



Poe's party has warned of a "people power" revolt if he's denied the presidency.



Arroyo's aides, however, say she won by about 1.1 (m) million votes and her government has threatened to arrest troublemakers.



Meanwhile, rumours of restiveness among soldiers backing the opposition have spread in recent days. But the military has played down the rumours.



The military and police have been on heightened alert in recent weeks.



By law, only Congress can proclaim the winning president and vice president, who are to take office on June 30.



The Philippines has been roiled by political turmoil in recent years.



In 2001, Arroyo helped lead massive protests that toppled then President Joseph Estrada over alleged corruption.



Estrada, detained and on trial for the capital offence of economic plunder, backed his fellow actor Poe in the elections.





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