Senator Grace Poe and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte now share the top spot in the presidential race, according to the latest Pulse Asia survey released Tuesday.
Results of the survey showed Poe and Duterte in a statistical tie, with the senator garnering a voter preference rating of 26 percent while the mayor had 25 percent.
Close behind were Vice President Jejomar Binay and administration standard bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas II with ratings of 22 percent and 20 percent, respectively.
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago got 3 percent while the late OFW party-list Rep. Roy Seneres got 0.1 percent.
The poll, commissioned by ABS-CBN, was conducted from March 8 to 13 with 4,000 respondents.
It had a margin of error of +/- 1.5 percent.
It was the first Pulse Asia survey conducted after the Supreme Court reversed Poe's disqualification from the presidential race.
In the poll, respondents were asked: “If the coming 2016 elections were held today, whom would you vote for as president of the Philippines?”
Five percent of survey respondents did not express preference for any presidential candidate.
In Metro Manila, Poe and Duterte were neck and neck as the most favored presidential bets, with the senator garnering a rating of 30 percent while the mayor had 29 percent.
Poe was the top choice for president in Balanced Luzon while Roxas was the preferred candidate in the Visayas region.
Duterte was the most favored presidential bet in Mindanao, with nearly half of survey respondents, or 46 percent, saying they will vote for him as president.
By socioeconomic class, the mayor also emerged as the top choice of voters from ABC. He and Poe shared the lead in class D, with 26 percent and 25 percent, respectively.
With the exception of Santiago and Señeres, all four presidential contenders enjoy the same voter preference in Class E, with Poe garnering 27 percent, Binay 25 percent, Duterte 23 percent and Roxas, 21 percent.
The survey also asked respondents of their alternative candidates in case their first choice would not be able to pursue his/her candidacy.
Poe said she and her team will continue to work hard to connect with voters and earn “the highest mandate” in the May 9 elections.
“With about a month and a half remaining in the campaign period, there will be no letup in our efforts to get to the people to explain what 'Gobyernong May Puso' can do for them,” she said in a statement.
Poe's spokesperson, Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian, expressed confidence that the senator's supporters in local politics will assist in her campaign.
“As the local campaign starts, Sen. Poe is confident that her supporters running for various local positions will help her detail her message to the voting public,” he said in a text message.
The campaign period for local elections will begin on March 26.
Binay's camp, meanwhile, sees the results of latest Pulse Asia survey as a challenge for them to campaign harder.
"The presidential race continues to be tight. If you look at the margin of error, lahat ay statistical tie. Ang hamon sa amin ay paigtingin pa ang pag-ikot sa iba't-ibang lalawigan at ipagpatuloy ang pakikipag-usap sa ating mga kababayan," lawyer Rico Quicho, Binay's spokesperson, said in a press statement.
He noted the warm welcome the Vice President is receiving wherever he goes as a proof of the support they have from the grassroots.
"Natutuwa kami sa talagang mainit na pagtanggap sa ating Vice President kahit saan s’ya magpunta. Hindi natitinag ang matibay na suporta at pagtitiwala ng mga core groups at supporters ni Vice President at lalo pang magpupursigi ang mga ito upang palakasin ang kandidatura ni Vice President," he said.
He said Binay is steadfast to address the poverty in the country.
"Ang kahirapan ng ating mga mamamayan ang patuloy pa rin na Number 1 na kalaban ni Vice President. Sa tulong ng ating mga kababayan ay masusugpo ito ni Vice President Binay," he said.
Duterte's campaign manager Bohol Mayor Leoncio Evasco Jr. of Maribojoc town said that persistence and hard work will be the key to their victory.
"We are where we are comfortable right now. We expect to gain more points as we move towards the second half of the campaign," he said in a statement.
Although happy with Duterte's standing, Evasco said they will use the Holy Week break to assess where they went strong and gained more supporters.
Duterte's spokesperson and media head Peter Laviña said the debate in Cebu City on Sunday may further boost the mayor’s image as a decisive leader.
In a statement, LP spokesperson Akbayan Rep. Ibarra Gutierrez said the latest survey indicates that the fight for the presidency is still a close race.
"Ang malinaw sa survey na ito, dikitan pa rin ang laban. Pero patuloy ang aming pagsulong ng mensahe namin sa mga botante, tulad noong nakaraang debate na hindi naisama sa survey na ito," Gutierrez said.
"Naniniwala kami na lalabas sa susunod na survey ang positibong reaksyon ng sambayanan sa pamumuno ni Mar. Buo din ang aming loob na sa pinakamahalagang survey, ang eleksyon sa May 9, si Mar at [Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo] ang magtatagumpay," he added.
Based on survey results, Poe was the top second choice for president with 30 percent, followed by Binay with 29 percent. Roxas and Duterte were both in third place with 14 percent and 13 percent, respectively.
Only seven percent named Santiago as their second pick for president.
In case Poe ended up backing out of the presidential race, Pulse Asia said the same percentage of voters rooting for her will back either Binay with 27 percent or Roxas with 25 percent.
However, the pollster said “sizeable to big pluralities” of voters rooting for Duterte, Santiago, Roxas or Binay would vote for Poe if their first choice were unable to run for president.
Aside from the SC's ruling on Poe's disqualification case, the other events that happened before and during the survey mentioned by Pulse Asia include:
- The reports about the alleged P50-million bribe offered to SC justices to disqualify Poe, and the subsequent denials that the magistrates who voted for and against the senator issued.
- The investigation of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) into the $81-million money laundering scheme involving funds stolen from the Bangladesh central bank and supposedly coursed through the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation and several casinos in the Philippines.
- The offloading of the RCBC Jupiter St. branch manager Ms. Maia Santos-Deguito and her family from a plane bound for Japan on 11 March 2016 in light of her reported involvement in the US$ 81 million money-laundering scheme
- The Commission on Audit's recommendation that Binay be sanctioned for grave misconduct, dishonesty, and gross inexcusable negligence, graft, and corrupt practices in connection with the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building II, which was constructed while he was serving as Makati City mayor
- The continued tension in the West Philippine Sea, withChinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi asserting China’s sovereign rights over disputed territories in the region
- The death of former Senate President Jovito Salonga
- The appointment of Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras as ad interim Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary, replacing former DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario
- The visit of former US Vice President Al Gore to the Philippines
- The flight of former Iglesia ni Cristo minister Lowell Menorca and his family to Vietnam amid reported death threats they have received
- The “truck holiday” launched by customs brokers and truckers to protest the implementation of the Terminal Appointment Booking System (TABS) which indicates a schedule for delivery and withdrawal of cargo from the Port of Manila
- The P 10 reduction in the flagdown rate of taxis
- The decrease in electricity bills for customers of the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) in March 2016 due to lower generation charges
—with Amita Legaspi, Kathrina Charmaine Alvarez and Trisha Macas/ALG, GMA News