By Macon Araneta | FilAm Star Correspondent
Two months before the May 9 presidential elections, independent presidential candidate Senator Grace Poe and opposition standard bearer, Vice President Jejomar Binay, are neck-to-neck in the Malacanang run, according to the latest Pulse Asia survey.
Based on the poll taken from February 15 to 20 Poe and Binay shared the top spot in the presidential preference poll, with the former getting the nod of 26 percent, while the latter was chosen by 25 percent of the 1,800 respondents.
Tailing them are Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino (Democratic Party of the Philippines) and resigned Department of Interior and Local Government Sec. Mar Roxas, of the ruling Liberal Party (LP). Both of them garnered 21 percent each.
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago of the People’s Reform Party got 3 percent, while 4 percent of the voters said they still did not know how they would vote.
The survey, used face-to-face interviews with 1,800 registered voters nationwide, with a ± 2 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level. The margin of error was a higher ± 6 percent in Metro Manila results, ± 3 percent for the rest of Luzon and ± 5 percent for Visayas and Mindanao.
Binay registered a strong showing in Metro Manila, taking the lead at 33 percent, followed by Poe and Duterte at 23 percent.
For the rest of Luzon, Poe garnered 33 percent to Binay’s 29 percent.
Roxas led in the Visayas with 35 percent, while Duterte posted a commanding 45 percent in Mindanao.
Poe said she is surprised by the results, showing she was the top choice of the Filipino electorate for President amid attacks on her qualifications to run for the country’s top post.
“I am wholeheartedly thankful to our people that despite doubts, the disqualification, they still believe in our platform and they continue to support us,” said Poe.
Speaking in a news conference at Lantaka Hotel in Zamboanga City, Poe said the survey results, which go up and down, would serve as their guide, despite what her political rivals have been doing to her.
She also underscored the importance of moving around the country to bring their message to the people. She promised to go to the other places in Mindanao and the Visayas region within the remaining days of the campaign period.
Poe’s spokesperson, Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian said amid all the left-handed attacks against her person, the senator’s leading again the Pulse Asia survey is an indication that the Filipino voters continue to stand behind her.
“Senator Poe is grateful to the Filipino voting public for their continued trust and confidence,” said Gatchalian.
“Their steadfast support will serve as inspiration for Senator Poe to intensify her campaign that is anchored on the message of Gobyernong may Puso,” he added.
In the coming days, he said they believe that more will consolidate behind her candidacy as more people hear her message.
The camp of Binay said Vice President Binay remains grateful for the trust and support of our people.
“He is offering to them a decisive and compassionate presidency that will address their concerns, with poverty being his top priority,”said lawyer Rico Quicho, Binay’s spokesperson for political affairs.
“We expect that with every rise in the survey results, the demolition by perception being waged by lethargic candidates will intensify. The Vice President will not be distracted from his determination to serve the people,” he added.
Coalition of the Right Path spokesman and Akbayan Rep. Ibarra Gutierrez said the administration coalition remains confident that Roxas, its standard-bearer, will emerge victorious in the upcoming polls despite being a laggard in pre-election surveys.
He emphasized that the presidential candidates are still in for a “tight race.”
“What is clear from the latest Pulse survey is that this is still a tight race. Mar’s numbers have gone up slightly, and we are grateful to our supporters who worked hard to make this possible,” Gutierrez said.
“We’ve said from the start that slow and steady will win the race, and the latest poll numbers support this. Mar’s steady rise through the past months give us firm confidence that we are on track to top the one survey that truly matters: the elections on May 9,” he added.
Peter Laviña, spokesman for Duterte’s camp, said the results of the latest Pulse Asia survey do not reflect the real sentiments of the public.
However, Laviña said they are inspired to work harder on the ground.
“We are heartened and inspired by the positive and overwhelming response from the people since we hit the campaign trail. We have seen our numbers steadily advancing overall,” he said.
Laviña said their camp has recognized Duterte’s strong and weak points. He said elections are still a good two months away and we have plenty of time to move up.
“We will remain vigilant and will continue to work very hard for the victory of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in the May 2016 presidential elections,” he stated.
Poe, Roxas and Duterte did well among the more well-off Class A, B and C voters, with 25 percent, 25 percent and 24 percent, respectively. Only 14 percent from these voters went for Binay.
Among the poorer Class D voters, Binay and Poe were ahead with 25 percent, followed by Duterte, 22 percent; and Roxas, 21 percent. Among the poorest Class E voters, 31 percent said they would vote for Binay and 28 percent said they would go for Poe.
Escudero and Marcos shared the lead in Metro Manila, with 35 percent and 34 percent, respectively; the rest of Luzon with 31 percent and 32 percent, repectively and among Class D voters with 30 percent and 26 percent, respectively.
Among Visayans, the top vice presidential bets were Escudero, getting 29 percent and Robredo with 28 percent.
Mindanaoans were most inclined to support Escudero, 22 percent; Cayetano, 22 percent; Marcos, 19 percent and Robredo, 16 percent.
Marcos drew support from Class A, B and C voters with a 44 percent lead, while Escudero led among the poorest Class E voters, with 32 percent.
Escudero, Poe’s vice presidential bet, said they are running scared . He said they are not confident whether they may be high or low in surveys.
Marcos, who is running along with Santiago, said the latest Pulse Asia survey is a reaffirmation that his message for national unity is being accepted by the Filipino people as well as a reflection of the increasing clamor for genuine change through unity.
But he believes there still a lot of work to be done before the real survey – the elections in May.
“We will strive harder to deliver our message to our countrymen, especially our less fortunate brothers and sisters,” further said Marcos.
Trillanes, Marcos’ colleague at the Nacionalista Party, who’s 5th placer, admitted he needs further introduction. He also needs to intensify his campaign sortie in the last two months.
“We have been in a worse situation before. Again, sabi ko in 2007, I was only 1 percent but I still won. We have a template ng campaign, it worked twice, so we’ll see to if it’ll work again this 2016,” he said.
The latest Pulse Asia survey also showed that of the 56 senatorial candidates, 14 have a statistical chance of winning a seat in the Senate.
Sharing the top spot in the senatorial race are Senator Vicente Sotto III (63.6 percent) and former Senator Panfilo Lacson (60.2 percent), both of whom are ranked first to second places.
Occupying third to fifth spots are former Senator Francis Pangilinan (54.1 percent) and Ralph Recto (53.4 percent).
Senate President Franklin Drilon was in third to sixth place (52.4 percent) while former Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri was ranked fifth to seventh at 48.5 percent.
The other possible winners in the May 2016 senatorial elections were De Lima (45.3 percent, 6th to 10th places); Senator Sergio Osmeña III (43.7 percent, 7th to 10th places); former Senator Richard Gordon (42.6 percent, 7th to 11th places); Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian (41.2 percent, 7th to 12th place); Emmanuel Villanueva (39.1 percent, ninth to 14th places); Senator Teofisto Guingona III (36.7 percent, 10th to14th place); former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros (36.2 percent, 11th to 14th places); and Pacquiao (34.8 percent, 11th to 14th place).