MANILA- The waiting game begins.
Polling precincts across the country closed at 6 p.m. Monday after millions of Filipinos finished voting in an election that would set the stage for the remainder of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term.
Millions endured long queues from as early as dawn up to the final minute of the 12-hour voting period, marred by counting machine malfunctions and reports of vote buying.
Twelve Senate seats, nearly 300 spots at the House of Representatives and over 17,000 local government posts will be decided this elections.
Results of the midterm polls would determine whether the President could keep his hold on Congress to ensure the support of the legislature for his programs in his last 3 years in office.
The Senate has stood in the way of Duterte's push for federalism, one of his key campaign promises in 2016, along with a deadly narcotics crackdown and intensive fight against corruption.
As voters endured lines to polling centers amid the sweltering heat, reports of malfunctioning vote counting and voter registration verification machines delayed the voting process in different parts of the country.
Former Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is running for Makati representative, was among those who encountered the problem after the vote counting machine (VCM) in his polling precinct initially rejected his ballot.
He was later allowed to fill up a new ballot that was fed into a new machine.
Other politicians that encountered problems with VCMs are reelectionist Senators Nancy Binay and Grace Poe, and Pasig mayoralty candidate Vico Sotto.
In some provinces, reports of election violence delayed the voting process.
Nine people were injured in a shooting incident in front of a polling center in Barangay Tiptipon, Sulu after supporters of rival candidates clashed.
In La Union, meanwhile, a poll watcher evaded an ambush attack in a polling center in the municipality of Aringay.
CONTINUITY OR 'MIRACLE'
Analysts have predicted that candidates under Duterte’s “umbrella” would most likely win after dominating pre-election surveys in the run-up to Monday’s polls.
Eight to 9 administration candidates had an inside track in getting elected based on a Pulse Asia poll released last Saturday.
Administration-backed candidates that have a statistical chance of winning include the President's sidekick Christopher "Bong" Go, and former police and corrections chief Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa.
Go is running under the ruling PDP-Laban political party while Dela Rosa is seeking his first Senate term under regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago, which is chaired by the President's eldest daughter, reelectionist Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, who also emerged as a political playmaker this elections.
Duterte-Carpio said she campaigned hard for pro-administration candidates this elections to ensure enough support for her father's political agenda in the remaining 3 years of his term.
"That's why we really worked hard during this campaign para ma-present sa mga tao kung sino 'yung mga senators na nakakaintindi kung ano ang vision ng ating Presidente at hopefully, bobotohan nila," she said.
(That's why we really worked hard during this campaign to present to the people the senators who understand the President's vision and hopefully, vote for them.)
Opposition leader Vice President Leni Robredo, meanwhile, said she was hoping for a "miracle" for the Otso Diretso slate given that only one of their candidates has a chance of breaking into the top 12.
Only reelectionist Sen. Bam Aquino has a statistical chance of winning out of the 8-man opposition lineup, according to a May 3 to 6 Pulse Asia poll.
"Sa puso ko, parang hino-hope ko pa rin na mayroong ganoon na miracle," Robredo said.
(In my heart, I am hoping that there will be a miracle like that.)