Gloria Arroyo, newly-elected President of the Philippines, faces a hard task fighting corruption and invigorating one of Asia's most sluggish economies.
By Sarah Toms
Her new mandate should give Mrs Arroyo, a US-educated economist and daughter of a former president, more clout to push through much-needed reforms.
But a divisive campaign against a popular film star, and allegations of election fraud, point to problems ahead as Mrs Arroyo tries to deliver on promises of cleaner water, cheaper electricity, more schools and one million new jobs each year for the next six years.
Mrs Arroyo has won a new, six-year term
Scott Harrison of risk consultancy Pacific Strategies & Assessments said the president would have little money to spare as long as debts pile up, corruption runs rampant and tax collection stays weak.
"She will have a tough challenge and will meet resistance to some of her
economic policies as they will go against the grain of vested interests and
monopolies," Mr Harrison told BBC News Online.
One of Mrs Arroyo most controversial proposals is to raise "sin taxes" on
cigarettes and alcohol, to help strengthen budgets for
education, healthcare, poverty reduction and infrastructure.
But one of her biggest battles will be getting many of the wealthiest
families and powerful businesses to pay their share.
She is also constrained because, after months of campaigning and weeks of waiting, many voters have become jaded about the conduct of their politicians.
"The presidential campaign, the election itself and the canvassing have been
far from perfect," the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper said in an
"But the entire political system - no, our entire social, economic and
political culture - suffers from many defects. This has to change if we are
to accelerate our development."
Mrs Arroyo first inherited the presidency from Joseph Estrada, who was chased from office in
January 2001 by street protests fuelled by anger about corruption.
By winning this election, President Arroyo now has the mandate she lacked.
But millions of poor voters who supported her challenger, film action hero Fernando Poe Junior, still see her as a usurper.
Opposition allegations that the election was rigged carry the vague threat
of unrest, especially given the country's history of two "people power" uprisings and at least nine coup attempts in the last 18 years.
But Jojo Gonzales of Philippine Equity Partners saw little chance of people spilling into the streets to protest fraud at the ballot box.
"In every presidential election there are claims of cheating. There's even a
well-known Filipino saying - there are no losers, just the winners and
those who got cheated out of office," Mr Gonzales said.
"Arroyo won't be hamstrung by allegations of fraud as long as they are not
substantiated," he said.
In Manila's financial and diplomatic district, the gleaming skyscrapers and
exclusive shops make it hard to believe the Philippines suffers some of the
worst poverty and unemployment in Asia.
Less than 10 minutes away, though, rickety shacks covered with corrugated iron roofs
line a railway track. Such slums are not an uncommon sight in a country
where one third of the 84m people survive on less than $1 a day.
Security is tight following threats of unrest
Raising living standards, creating jobs and educating an English-speaking
workforce are vital to improving the economy and keeping more Filipinos from
leaving home for better opportunities abroad.
Rebel violence, threats from regional militants and a fast-growing
population are other major areas for attention.
While investors sighed with relief after Mrs Arroyo beat Mr Poe, who had no political experience, many analysts saw her last three years in office as unremarkable.
Earl Parreno of the Institute of Political and Electoral Reforms said
President Arroyo now had the chance to pass potentially unpopular but
much-needed reforms because she no longer needs to worry about being
"She is in the position to have that political will to ram all these
policies and put in place a condition that would favour a better climate for
investment and a peaceful environment for people," Mr Parreno said.