MANILA, JAN. 18 -- Millions of Filipinos voted today for approximately 16,000 local and provincial officials in generally peaceful balloting that completed the Philippines' return to democracy under President Corazon Aquino.
Authorities reported isolated cases of poll fraud, ballot-box snatching and election-related violence, but the extent of irregularities appeared to be modest compared to previous elections.
The elections are not seen as a test for Aquino, since most of the candidates have pledged their support for the president. Candidates of three administration coalition parties are expected to divide at least 75 percent of the posts, analysts said.
Elections commission chairman Ramon Felipe said about 80 percent of registered voters turned out to elect provincial governors, vice governors and councilors, and municipal mayors and council members.
Voting will be held later in 11 provinces and 5 municipalities, where campaign violence forced the postponement of balloting.
Armed forces chief Gen. Fidel Ramos said 12 violent incidents had been reported during the day, a figure which he termed "very low."
The 60-day election campaign had been marred by violence that left 86 people dead, including 39 candidates, and 76 others wounded. Only hours before the voting began, an administration gubernatorial candidate was gunned down at a rally in Camarines Norte Province, 140 miles southeast of Manila.
Suspected communist rebels ambushed a police car ferrying poll workers today in the southern city of Surigao on Mindanao island, wounding an election inspector and an 8-year-old boy, officials said. A gunfight at a precinct in Cavite Province, south of Manila, left a woman dead and a policeman wounded.
The elections were the Philippines' first freely held local polls since 1971, the year before then-president Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law. Local elections were held under the martial government in 1980.