Filipino expatriates in the UAE tilted overwhelmingly in favour of the winning presidential candidate, Benigno Aquino, who garnered 4,295 votes during a month of overseas absentee voting that ended on Monday. The Philippine Embassy said 7,917 ballots were cast in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Gilbert Teodoro came in a distant second, drawing in 924 votes. In third place was Eduardo Villanueva of the Bangon Pilipinas Party with 885 votes, followed by the senator Manny Villar of Lakas-Kampi-CMD with 623 votes.
Mr Aquino, who had 41.8 per cent of the overall vote in the nine-way race with 88.6 per cent of precincts counted, began forming his cabinet yesterday. His closest rival, the former president Joseph Estrada, had 26.5 per cent of the overall tally. Mr Estrada received only 322 in the UAE. Corazon Soliman was the first to accept a post and will lead the Department of Social Welfare and Development. "Our country badly needs this shot in the arm. We have been given a second chance to do this right," she said.
Ms Soliman defected, along with other cabinet members, from the outgoing president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's administration in July 2005 amid a vote-rigging scandal. A committee will help Mr Aquino form the cabinet before he takes his oath on June 30, selecting people "with integrity, honesty and no track record of corrupt practices", Ms Soliman told the Associated Press. Bloated government contracts, especially those signed in the final six months under Ms Arroyo, "will be reviewed before [being] honoured", Ms Soliman told the news agency.