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Grace Poe stretches lead in survey

/ 06:00 AM November 20, 2015
Grace Poe

Senator Grace Poe. RYAN LEAGOGO/INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO

Sen. Grace Poe has stretched her lead over her rivals as the number of respondents choosing her as their preferred presidential candidate rose by 13 percentage points in October in the latest candidate preference survey conducted by Pulse Asia.

Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay, in second place and Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Mar Roxas, in third place, were within 3 percentage points of each other.

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This was another good news for Poe, who earlier scored a victory when the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET), voting 5-4, rejected a petition to unseat her from the Senate on the ground that being a foundling, she was not a natural-born Filipino and therefore unqualified to run for the senatorial seat she won in 2013.

Only natural-born Filipinos are qualified to run for senator, Vice President and President.

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Poe is, however, facing four other disqualification petitions in the Commission on Elections (Comelec) based, again, on her allegedly not being a natural-born Filipino. The petitions before the Comelec also aver that Poe does not meet the residency requirement for candidates for President as she had lived for years in the United States as an American citizen and only recently claimed to have “reacquired” Filipino citizenship and relocated to the Philippines.

The Pulse Asia survey, conducted from Oct. 18 to 29 following the filing of candidacy certificates, found 39 percent of the 2,400 respondents saying Poe was their choice for President if the elections were held last month, a jump from the 26 percent registered in September.

Binay was the choice of 24 percent, up from 19 percent in the September survey, while Roxas was preferred by 21 percent, hardly changed from 20 percent. Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, in fourth place, also improved from 3 percent to 11 percent.

Pulse Asia used a margin of error of plus-or-minus 1.7 percentage points. The survey was privately commissioned.

“That is an embargoed survey released by client… We can only confirm the figures. We are not at liberty to disclose more than they had released,” Pulse Asia research director Ana Maria Tabunda said in a text message.

Poe’s running mate Sen. Francis Escudero also widened his margin in the race for Vice President with 43 percent of the respondents choosing him in the October survey, a 20-point surge from 23 percent in September.

Trailing behind him were Sen. Bongbong Marcos (21 percent from 13 percent), Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano (11 percent from 9 percent), Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo (7 percent from 3 percent) and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV (6 percent from 4 percent).

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Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice, the LP political affairs chief, dismissed the Pulse Asia survey as part of the normal swings in the precampaign period.

“I think that the survey is just a snapshot of the mood of the day and can change depending on what will happen next. But when the campaign starts, it will be back to zero-zero,” said Erice in a text message.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. agreed that the survey was insignificant. “It’s virtually unchanged from last time” as there was no change in the ranking of the top three bets, said Belmonte.

Florencio Noel of the An Waray party-list claimed that the survey confirmed the strong support base for the Poe-Escudero team up, noting that it was taken amid a flurry of disqualification cases against Poe and before the SET ruled on the petition seeking to remove Poe from the Senate.

“A good number of people have already made up their minds to vote for Grace and Chiz despite the disqualification cases. We expect her number to go up by at least 8 percentage points if all legal stumbling blocks are cleared out of the way,” said Noel whose party-list group is part of the coalition supporting the Poe-Escudero team.

He said the survey showing Poe’s popularity among voters would put more pressure on the Supreme Court  to let the people decide who they want their leader to be in 2016.

“How can a select, few people appointed by the powers-that-be  vote against the voice of the people? It’s a very tough scenario,” he said.

Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian, Poe’s spokesperson, said the survey showed that people did not believe the disqualification cases against her.

He said it showed that the public understood that the disqualification complaints against Poe “were baseless and filed to condition the minds of the electorate and nothing more than that.”

“Given the poll numbers, it shows that the Filipino public opted to focus their attention on the platforms and advocacies of Senator  Poe,” he said.

The Binay camp on Thursday vowed to step up its efforts in convincing people he should be elected President after he came in second to Poe in the latest presidential preference survey.

“We will double our efforts on the ground,” said Binay’s political spokesperson Rico Quicho in a text message.

Quicho said the 2016 presidential election was about improving the lives of people in deep poverty and that the country needed an experienced leader for the job of improving the lives of the poor.

“We cannot afford to continue the inequality under a President who is inexperienced and out of touch with the people. We can address poverty and hunger under a new leadership that is ready for the job and has real compassion for the poor,” Quicho said, adding that this entailed “executive experience.”

“And only someone who has experienced poverty knows the problems of the poor. Jojo Binay is that leader,” he said. Inquirer Research with Gil Cabacungan, Leila Salaverria, Marlon Ramos and Chrsitine Avendaño

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