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Poe takes the lead; Robredo closes in

Posted on March 14, 2016

SENATOR GRACE POE took the lead in the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey -- conducted up to the eve of the Supreme Court ruling that cleared her run for the presidency -- that also saw Vice-President Jejomar C. Binay, administration bet Manuel “Mar” A. Roxas II and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte on her heels.

Results of the latest BusinessWorld-SWS Pre-election Survey -- conducted last March 4-7 via face-to-face interviews with 1,800 validated voters and with a ±2-point sampling error margin -- may reflect the public’s reaction to the first public debate among presidential candidates that took place in Cagayan de Oro City last Feb. 21, said one analyst, agreeing with another that Ms. Poe can be expected to pull away further from contenders as a result of the Supreme Court decision last March 8 to allow her to run for president in the face of questions on her qualifications.

Ms. Poe gained three points from last month to 27%, trailed by Mr. Binay who dropped five points to 24%, Mr. Roxas who added four points to 22% and Mr. Duterte who lost three points to 21%.

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“We can say that the basis of the respondent responses basically is only the presidential debate because that’s the coverage of the survey... wala pa ‘yung SC decision (the Supreme Court decision was not yet taken into account)...,” Edmund S. Tayao, political science professor at the University of Santo Tomas, said in a telephone interview yesterday.

“It appears that the public appreciated more from Senator Grace and Secretary Mar, and probably would have expected more from VP Binay which explains the 5% drop.”

“We can expect Senator Grace’s number to go even higher if the Supreme Court decision would be factored in the survey. I suppose that is what’s going to happen in the next survey,” Mr. Tayao added.

Ramon C. Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms, shared the view that the court’s ruling will likely boost her numbers further.

Ang logical diyan kasi na tingnan na effect tataas ‘yung rating ninya lalo (It is logical to expect that her rating will go up further as a result of the ruling)” Mr. Casiple said separately by phone, noting that the legal challenge to her candidacy was “ang pinaka-number one na problema ninya (her number-one problem)”.

Ms. Poe’s detractors who were petitioners in the Supreme Court case have said they would appeal the decision.

Mr. Tayao cautioned that “considering it takes so much time before that (further improvement in survey performance) happens, a lot of other developments could also take place -- which means that the other candidates can still try to cover by probably adjusting or tweaking their campaigns or messages so that it resonates further with the electorate.”

The same survey also showed Senator Francis Joseph “Chiz” G. Escudero and Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. in a statistical tie for the vice-presidency with administration bet Camarines Sur Rep. Maria Leonor “Leni” G. Robredo, who however bared the biggest improvement of five points from February.

Mr. Escudero edged up two points to 28%, while Mr. Marcos was flat at 26%.

Ms. Robredo, however, closed in with a five-point jump to 24%, mirroring the improvement of Mr. Roxas’s own numbers.

Mr. Casiple attributed Ms. Robredo’s surge to the public’s increased awareness of her, noting that “her problem was... people were initially not aware of her”.

Mr. Tayao wondered if Mr. Roxas’ and Ms. Robredo’s improvements in March could be traced to the ruling party’s campaign.

“[W]hat we have to consider really is to find out whether this survey will be validated by other surveys, kasi it’s interesting to find out what explains the increase in the numbers of Secretary Mar and Leni Robredo because this is something that is rather not expected by many,” Mr. Tayao said.

“Perhaps if maybe... other surveys validate the same, we can say that the campaign of the administration has been picking up.”

The March survey also saw five candidates from the ruling Liberal Party (LP), five independents and one each from the Akbayan party-list group, Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) and Mr. Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) slugging it out for the 12 available Senate seats.

Leading were Sen. Vicente C. Sotto III (NPC, 53%), followed by former senator Panfilo M. Lacson (independent, 46%), Senate President Franklin M. Drilon (LP, 44%), Sen. Ralph G. Recto (LP, 43%), former senator and food security presidential assistant Francis N. Pangilinan (LP, 43%).

The next five slots were taken by former senator Juan Miguel F. Zubiri (independent, 41%), Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel “Manny” D. Pacquiao (UNA, 38%), Sen. Sergio D. Osmeña III (independent, 34%) as well as former senator Richard “Dick” J. Gordon (independent) and former justice secretary Leila M. de Lima (LP) each with 32%.

Vying for the last two slots were Akbayan Rep. Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros (30%), Sen. Teofisto D.L. Guingona III (LP, 26%), Joel T. Villanueva (LP, 24%) and former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Francis N. Tolentino (independent, 23%). -- A. M. Monzon

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