MANILA, Philippines -- Vice President Noli de Castro was the top choice as President of about one in every five Filipinos (21.5 percent) if elections had been held last month, two years ahead of the 2010 elections, according to a Pulse Asia survey.
De Castro was followed by Senators Loren Legarda (17.5 percent), Francis ?Chiz? Escudero (13 percent), Manuel Roxas II (10.5 percent), Panfilo Lacson (9.9 percent) and Senate President Manuel Villar Jr. (9.3 percent).
De Castro led in nearly all geographic areas and classes, except in Metro Manila and among members of socio-economic class ABC.
The Pulse Asia ?Ulat ng Bayan March 2008? survey on presidential preferences was conducted from Feb. 21 to March 8.
The Vice President was the presidential candidate of choice of 26.1 percent in Mindanao; 21.4 percent in Luzon outside Metro Manila; and 20.5 percent in the Visayas; and of 21.4 percent in class D and 24.6 percent in class E.
In the National Capital Region, Escudero was the leading presidential candidate of choice (23.7 percent), followed by De Castro, with 15.7 percent, and Legarda, 14.3 percent.
Escudero also led in class ABC (22.2 percent), followed by Legarda (14.2 percent) and De Castro (14.1 percent).
The respondents were asked the question: ?Of the people on this list, whom would you vote for as President of the Philippines if the elections were held today and they were presidential candidates??
The list contained 16 names that included: Senators Jose ?Jinggoy? Estrada (3.3 percent) and Antonio Trillanes IV (3 percent); Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chair Bayani Fernando (1.4 percent); Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay (1.2 percent); Sen. Richard Gordon (0.7 percent); Armed Forces Chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon (0.4 percent); Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte (0.3 percent); Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro (0.3 percent); Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita (0.1 percent) and former Gawad Kalinga executive director Antonio Meloto (0.1 percent).
Less than one in 10 (6.8 percent) either had no answer, refused to answer or were undecided.
Reached for comment, De Castro expressed his gratitude for the trust and confidence that people expressed for him through the survey.
?I will use this as an inspiration for me to double my effort in performing the tasks entrusted to me, be it as your Vice President, as the one in charge in housing, or as the presidential adviser on overseas Filipino workers,? he said.
He said he would not use it ?for any political purpose or personal ambition but solely for improving my work and rendering better public service.?
The survey was conducted during a period that was dominated by headlines on the Senate investigation into the NBN-ZTE issue, protest actions demanding President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo?s resignation, the controversy over a joint exploration deal between the Philippines and China in the Spratlys and the rise in prices of oil and other basic goods.
The survey used face-to-face interviews with 1,200 Filipino adults nationwide. It had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points.
Sub-national estimates in each of the geographic areas covered in the survey (Metro Manila, the rest of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao) had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 6 percentage points.
Ulat ng Bayan
?Pulse Asia undertakes Ulat ng Bayan surveys on its own without any party singularly commissioning the research effort,? Pulse Asia said in a statement.
In separate comments, Legarda and Escudero said they were thankful for their high ranking while downplaying the survey?s implications.
?I appreciate the people?s continued faith and confidence in me but it?s still two years to go and I just want to continue doing a good job serving our people,? Legarda said.
?It?s just a snapshot. There?s no reason to feel bad if [someone ranks] low and no reason to brag if [someone ranks] high,? said Escudero. Kate Pedroso, Inquirer Research, with Dona Pazzibugan