Philippine Senator Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday headed for a landslide victory in the presidential race as the incumbent prepared to turn over the government to him.

The 50—year—old bachelor was ahead by nearly five-million votes over his closest rival, former president Joseph Estrada, with results from more than 88 per cent of precincts nationwide counted.

Mr. Estrada has not yet conceded the race, and Mr. Aquino has chosen not to claim victory until Congress proclaims him the winner of Monday’s election.

But the son of democracy heroes late former president Corazon Aquino and assassinated ex—senator Benigno Aquino Junior said he was preparing to take over from President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Mr. Aquino, who ran on an anti—corruption platform, said a search committee was being set up to identify members of his cabinet so that he could start fulfilling his campaign promises.

“There has to be a dramatic change in the status quo,” he said.

“The Government has lost its power to positively affect our people’s lives because of corruption,” he added. “Therefore, the first priority has to be to address the issue of corruption.” Mr. Aquino said he planned to set up a commission to review controversial appointments, deals and policies of the outgoing administration.

“There is a mechanism that will be set up to put a closure on all the issues that have remained pending,” he said. Otherwise, “all of the problems brought about by these issues will persist and continue and we cannot move on.” The Arroyo administration began to wrap up work in preparation for the turnover on June 30, according to executive secretary Leandro Mendoza.

“The Arroyo administration will now turn over the torch of governance to her successor come June 30,” he said.

Mr. Mendoza said Ms. Arroyo, her family and cabinet were already packing their things.

Secretary Elena Bautista, chief of the presidential management staff, said a transition team was conducting an inventory of government programmes to give to the new administration.

Mr. Mendoza said Ms. Arroyo was open to meeting with Mr. Aquino to discuss the turnover, but added that such a meeting would be “dependent on the successor.” He said Ms. Arroyo had yet to congratulate Mr. Aquino and would wait until the official proclamation is made before making a statement.

Under the Philippine system, Congress must convene at the end of the month to canvass the votes and proclaim the winners in the presidential and vice-presidential races.

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