Congress Friday proclaimed Vice President Joseph Estrada - a college dropout who made it big in movies and then became a bigger star in politics - the Philippines' next president.

The declaration came a day after Estrada's main rival, administration candidate Jose de Venecia, conceded defeat in the 10-member race to succeed President Fidel Ramos.De Venecia, speaker of the House, congratulated Estrada as the members of Congress cheered loudly.

The proclamation - coming 18 days after the May 11 elections - set a record in recent Philippine politics and suggests the transfer of power to the main opposition party will be far more peaceful than many politicians expected.

Normally, Congress spends several weeks verifying the returns in the presidential and vice presidential races before proclaiming the victors. In the last election in 1992, Ramos was declared winner after nearly a month of disputes.

But this year, Congress finished most of its review in just eight hours.

"The peaceful transfer of power is important to show the political maturity of the Filipino people," said Sen. Franklin Drilon, the Senate delegation leader in the two-chamber proclamation committee.

The general elections were also among the Philippines' most peace-ful ever, although at least 45 people were killed.