ACTION star Robinhood Ferdinand “Robin” C. Padilla is on his way to topping this year’s senatorial election, getting about 26.3 million votes as of Tuesday afternoon, according to a partial and unofficial tally from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) server.

About 98% of the votes had been tallied as of 5 p.m.

Close behind was Antique Rep. Lorna Regina “Loren” B. Legarda with 23.9 million votes, followed by TV journalist Rafael “Raffy” T. Tulfo with 23.09 million votes.

In fourth place was reelection Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian with 20.31 million votes, followed by Sorsogon Governor Francis Joseph “Chiz” G. Escudero with 19.98 million.

Former Public Works Secretary Mark A. Villar was No. 6 with 19.13 million, followed by Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter S. Cayetano (19.02 million), reelection Senators Juan Miguel F. Zubiri (18.51 million) and Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva (18.25 million), former Senator Joseph Victor G. Ejercito (15.64 million), Senator Ana Theresia “Risa” N. Hontiveros-Baraquel (15.23 million) and former Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada (14.92 million).

Nine of the top 12 senatorial bets are connected with Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. who is headed for a landslide presidential victory. Mr. Cayetano and Mr. Tulfo are independent candidates, while Ms. Hontiveros is affiliated with the political opposition.

Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III, who ranked third in the unofficial vice-presidential election, led the ceremonial acceptance of the certificates of canvass and election returns that were arriving at the Senate on Tuesday evening.

Comelec expects to proclaim the winning senators this week, Election Commissioner Marlon S. Casquejo told a news briefing in Filipino.

At the start of canvassing on Monday, Mr. Sotto and Speaker Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco said both chambers were ready to count the votes for the presidential and vice-presidential candidates. They were eyeing to proclaim the new president and vice-president May 27 or 28.

Comelec said this year’s election results had been transmitted faster than in past elections.

“It’s because of the improved and upgraded equipment and system so as to prevent the 2019 scenario,” Election Commissioner George Erwin M. Garcia told reporters in a Viber message, citing a glitch in the 2019 mid-term elections that caused a seven-hour delay in the transmission of votes.

Comelec had received as of 5 p.m. on Tuesday about 98% of election returns sent from 106,174 precincts.

“We expected that the transmission of results would really be faster since we used new technology after the 2019 elections,” Election Commissioner Marlon S. Casquejo told a news briefing.

The election body also started its random manual audit on Tuesday, randomly selecting precincts to verify if vote-counting machines counted votes correctly, according to a live-streamed video on its Facebook page.

Meanwhile, the Comelec full court on Tuesday reconvened as the National Board of Canvassers, after temporarily suspending its session while waiting for votes to get transmitted.

The seven-member en banc will validate the certificates of canvass of votes for senatorial and party-list candidates, and will officially proclaim the winners after. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan and John Victor D. Ordoñez