Monday, December 21, 2009

Aquino solidifies lead (But Roxas, Legarda in close race for VP post)

By Christine Avendaño, Cathy C. Yamsuan, Cyril Bonabente, Inquirer Research
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:22:00 12/22/2009

Filed Under: Benigno Aquino III, Opinion surveys, Elections, Eleksyon 2010, Inquirer Politics

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines—Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III consolidated his “sizeable” lead in the presidential race, but Senators Loren Legarda and Manuel “Mar” Roxas II were locked in a close fight for the vice presidency, according to the latest Pulse Asia survey.

Forty-five percent of 1,800 adults interviewed nationwide from Dec. 8 to 10 said they would vote for Aquino if elections were held at the time.

Nearly 50 million Filipinos will select a president, a vice president, nearly 300 lawmakers for the two houses of Congress and more than 17,500 local positions in the May general elections.

Considering the survey’s margin of error of plus-or-minus 2 percentage points, Aquino’s rating was virtually the same as the 44 percent he got in a similar survey in October.

“The support for Senator Aquino remains virtually unchanged,” Ana Maria Tabunda, chief research fellow of Pulse Asia Inc., said in a statement, comparing the latest results with the previous survey.

Way behind Aquino were Sen. Manuel “Manny” Villar Jr. (23 percent, up 4 points) and deposed President Joseph Estrada (19 percent, up 8 points).

At the bottom were former Defense Secretary Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. (5 percent, up 3 points), Sen. Richard “Dick” Gordon (1 percent), and evangelist Eduardo “Bro. Eddie” Villanueva (1 percent).

Other presidential candidates got less than 1 percent each.

Escudero factor

Tabunda said it was possible that votes for Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, who announced on Nov. 24 his decision to drop out of the 2010 presidential race, went to Estrada and improved his rating.

“While it was expected that votes for Escudero would be proportionately distributed to the remaining presidential candidates, support for Villar did not go up that much, possibly because of his party’s decision to support the senatorial campaign of Ilocos Norte Rep. Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. and militant party-list Representatives Liza Maza and Satur Ocampo,” Tabunda said in an interview.

Marcos is the son and namesake of the late dictator who jailed Ocampo and other political activists during martial law.

Pulse Asia asked respondents to choose from a list of 15 presidential, 15 vice presidential and 80 senatorial hopefuls. They were allowed to make up to 12 senatorial preferences.

Last week, the Commission on Elections approved the certificates of candidacy (CoCs) of eight presidential aspirants, the CoCs of eight vice presidential hopefuls, and the CoCs of 58 senator wannabes.

Vice presidential race

Legarda gained 14 points (37 percent), closely following Roxas (39 percent, up 2 points) in first place in the vice presidential race.

They were followed by Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay (14 percent, up 1 point), former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chair Bayani Fernando (2 percent, up 1 point) and actor/TV host Edu Manzano (2 percent). It was Manzano’s first time to be included in the survey.

Tabunda said that unlike Aquino who had a big lead over Villar and Estrada, “Roxas’ lead over Legarda is more precarious because there are no corruption allegations against her.”

Estrada was convicted of plunder in September 2007, but was later pardoned by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Villar has been accused of double funding the C-5 road extension project.

Tabunda said Legarda’s 14-point increase could also be attributed to her environmental advocacy, the relevance of which has been highlighted by recent Copenhagen talks to fight global warming, and to a more active campaign.

“Legarda made herself scarce when she was still being considered a presidential candidate. But after finalizing her decision to run for vice president … she has been more active on the campaign trail,” Tabunda said.

Senatorial race

In the senatorial race, 14 had a statistical chance of winning. Six of them were reelectionists and four were former senators.

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada of Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) was No. 1 with 55.1 percent, followed by Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. of Lakas-Kampi-CMD (52.7 percent) and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago of the People’s Reform Party (51.4 percent).

Former Senate President Franklin Drilon of the Liberal Party (LP) (48.4 percent), Sen. Pilar Juliana “Pia” Cayetano of the Nacionalista Party (43.1 percent).

Former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto of the LP (43.1 percent), Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile of the PMP (42.7 percent), former Sen. Sergio “Serge” Osmeña III, an independent candidate, (40.2 percent), former Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto III of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (40.2 percent).

Ilocos Norte Rep. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. of the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (31 percent), Bukidnon Rep. Teofisto Guingona III of LP (28.5 percent), Jose “Joey” de Venecia III of PMP (24.3 percent), Sen. Manuel “Lito” Lapid of Lakas-Kampi-CMD (23.1 percent), and Muntinlupa Rep. Rozzano Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon of LP (22.9 percent).

Thrust into limelight

From a political lightweight with no significant achievements in his 11 years as a legislator, the son of the late democracy icon Corazon Aquino was thrust into the limelight when his mother died in August.

Senator Aquino took advantage of the massive outpouring of emotional support for his mother to catapult himself into the national consciousness. He announced his candidacy in September.

Aquino’s camp was elated about the latest Pulse Asia survey results.

“The survey results validate our belief that the Filipino people continue to support our campaign for an honest government,” said lawyer Edwin Lacierda, Aquino’s spokesperson.

Lacierda said the survey results came at a time “when our many opponents are desperately trying to bring us down through lies and black propaganda.”

He said the results proved that “their dirty tricks are not working.”

For his part, Roxas, running mate of Aquino, said Aquino’s lead reinforced their bid “to fight for a straight, honest and clean government which the country badly needed.”

Villar doing better

“I’m happy with the results. We are on target,” Villar said at the Laurel House in Mandaluyong City. “There’s still four and a half months to go.”

He said his campaign would focus on the value of hard work—“sipag at tiyaga”—which was also his slogan when he ran for senator in 2001 and 2007.

“I remain confident, especially now that there are fewer candidates. The choices in the future surveys will be clearer,” he said. “I will not run for president if I’m not sure of winning.”

Too early to tell

Estrada remained confident despite merely placing “third” in the survey, saying “it’s too early to tell.”

He said it might even be “a disadvantage to peak this early” in the surveys with more than five months to go before the May elections.

“Come February or March, that’s when we will really know, because by then 90 to 80 percent of the voters would have already decided,” Estrada said when reached on the phone Monday.

Estrada’s reelection bid has been challenged in the Supreme Court.

A spokesperson of Teodoro said the presidential election was more than four months away.

“We are confident that his ratings will climb dramatically as more Filipinos get to know his program of government, his character and his integrity in public office as the epitome of the new generation of high-achieving Filipino leaders,” Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay said in a statement.

Gordon said his survey numbers would improve greatly once people become aware he was gunning for the presidency.

“When people find out that I am already a candidate for President, this survey is going to change, because they are now going to look at a real candidate with a real track record and a record of leadership and integrity,” Gordon said in statement.

He noted that the survey was taken immediately after the CoCs were filed which he said was when people “were not quite sure whether I was a candidate until on that day.”

Legarda pleased

Legarda expressed confidence that as the campaign period neared, she would emerge on top of the vice presidential race.

“I am very pleased with the results of this latest survey. It validates my belief that a green platform is precisely what this country needs, and that the Filipino electorate approves of my efforts in pushing a pro-environment agenda,” Legarda said in a statement.

Legarda is the running mate of Villar.

Asked about his own rating that saw him tying with Legarda, Roxas could only say that “it goes with the campaign.”

“For the past two to three months, I have been concentrating on the campaign for Senator Noynoy and this January when the campaign period starts, the results would surely change,” he said. With reports from Reuters and Agence France-Presse

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