MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - Former president Joseph Estrada on Tuesday said he will not concede to presidential frontrunner, Liberal Party presidential bet Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, until after Congress finishes the official canvass of the results of the country's first ever nationwide automated elections.
"Lest my silence following the recent presidential elections be misconstrued for conceding the elections to the frontrunner, I wish to assure the public that while I plan no protests, I am not conceding," Estrada said in a statement read by his son, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada.
"I wish to remind the people that under our Constitution, only the Congress, not the Commission on Elections or its chairman Jose Melo and certainly not the so-called poll watchdogs, can proclaim the winner of the presidential elections. Consequently, may I remind the Comelec chairman to refrain from issuing what appears to be final statements based on partial returns from the polling precincts. Should the unofficial, partial returns be borne out in the official, congressional canvass, I shall certainly, gladly bow to the sovereign will of the people."
Estrada is trailing Aquino by at least 5 million votes, based on the partial and unofficial results of the Comelec tally as of 1:14 p.m.
Four other presidential contenders - Manny Villar, Gilbert Teodoro, Richard Gordon and JC delos Reyes - have conceded to Aquino on Tuesday after the LP bet took a commanding lead in the tally.
In an interview, the younger Estrada backed his father's statement that the Comelec tally is a form of trending since the poll body did not say where the votes are coming from.
He said his father is open to conceding to Aquino but only after Congress starts canvassing the results of the elections.
"Kami naman, we are ready to concede anytime as long as we follow the process. All these statements coming from Comelec and poll watchdogs are still unofficial. It has to go to Congress," the opposition senator said.
The younger Estrada said his father could have been assured of victory if the powerful Iglesia ni Cristo had endorsed him instead of Aquino. The INC sect is the only religious group in the country that practices bloc voting.
"Had the Iglesia ni Cristo voted in favor of President Estrada, it would have been a good fight," he said.
Asked to comment on the possible electoral win of Aquino, Estrada said the LP bet's strong showing could be attributed to sympathy votes after the death of Aquino's mother, former president Corazon Aquino, last August.
"Because of the death of president Cory, the outpouring of sympathy went to Senator Noynoy and his sisters," he said.
The senator said the opposition is happy that Estrada's running mate, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, is leading the race for vice-president.
He denied, however, media reports that his father forgot to shade Binay's name when he cast his vote on Monday.
"Imposibleng hindi niya iboto yun. Binalikan niya yun. When he saw my name, he shaded it right away. And then he shaded all the candidates of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino and the local candidates but I am sure he went back and shaded Binay's name," he said.