Poe’s 20-point platform tightens race
CANBERRA—On Sept. 16 at the University of the Philippines’ alumni house, Sen. Grace Poe spelled out a 20-point program of government that she would put in place if she were elected president in May 2016. Her declaration of her candidacy threw the presidential election into a three-cornered race among herself, Vice President Jejomar Binay, and former interior secretary Mar Roxas.
Of the three, only Poe has laid down a platform. The latest survey, by Pulse Asia, for the third quarter of this year, showed that while she continued to be the voters’ No. 1 preferred presidential candidate, there was a decline in the number of voters who would choose her. On the other hand, Roxas, the Liberal Party standard-bearer endorsed by President Aquino, was catching up. He was the only candidate who improved his ratings in the survey commissioned by ABS-CBN and conducted from Aug. 27 to Sept. 3.
According to the survey, Poe got 27 percent, down from the previous 30 percent. She was followed by Binay, with 21 percent, and Roxas, with 18 percent. The release of the Pulse Asia results followed a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey that put her in a statistical tie with Binay, who used to be the frontrunner.
These polls were completed weeks before Poe announced on Sept. 18 her intention to seek the presidency.
The SWS survey first published by BusinessWorld on Sept. 20 showed that Poe further improved her lead as the preferred presidential aspirant, while Roxas leaped to second place. Poe now has a preference rating of 47 percent, which is five percentage points higher than in June. Roxas snatched the second spot from former frontrunner Binay. The SWS survey appeared to show that Roxas benefited from the President’s endorsement of him on July 31. The survey was conducted on Sept. 2-5. The preference for Roxas jumped to 39 percent from only 21 percent in June.
At the time, Binay was enjoying a 34-percent preference rate, coming in at second to Poe. While more than a third of the 1,200 respondents still backed Binay, the increase in his rating was marginal. With only 35 percent in September saying they believe that Binay is one of the best leaders to succeed President Aquino, Binay slipped to third place. On the other hand, the increased support for Roxas and Poe may have eaten into Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s rate. From 20 percent in June, preference for Duterte fell to 16 percent in September.
The list has grown narrower and shorter as the elections come closer. Coming in at fifth place was Sen. Francis Escudero (from 4 percent in June), followed by Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (5 percent), former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada (3 percent), and Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago (2 percent).
The volatility of the survey results elicited cheers in the ruling Liberal Party, which had been stricken by persistent doubts over Roxas’ “winnability” given his lackluster showing in the surveys. Now, Roxas supporters are more optimistic about his chances of winning as the gap narrows between him and the former frontrunners. Now, the Liberal Party is talking about a tight race among the three contenders, and how well they run their respective campaigns can spell the difference between winning and losing.
Based on the recent survey results, Poe and Binay are 2 percentage points of each other, while Roxas is not far behind in the survey of Sept. 2-5. Poe was the choice of 26 percent of 1,200 respondents, while Binay was preferred by 24 percent, and Roxas by 20 percent. The ratings of Poe, Binay and Roxas were “not statistically different,” according to the SWS research staff.
Senate President Franklin Drilon, vice chair of the Liberal Party, noted that Roxas’ was on an upward trajectory in the surveys while his rivals’ numbers seemed to have struck a plateau or gone down. Drilon ventured to say that it was only a matter of time before Roxas overtakes his opponents, noting that a few months ago, another survey showed Roxas as being the choice of only 4 percent of the respondents.
“Roxas’ zooming trajectory is very evident in all surveys,” Drilon pointed out, adding: “This should be a cause for concern for his opponents because, by all indications, it’s just a matter of time before he gets ahead of them.” He attributed Roxas’ improving numbers to Mr. Aquino’s “very strong commitment” that Roxas would adhere to the principles of “daang matuwid” as the norm of good governance. But this observation of Drilon is obvious political propaganda that should be taken with a grain of salt.
Another political strategist, Sen. Serge Osmeña, disagrees with Drilon. Osmeña says Roxas’ numbers cannot be attributed to presidential endorsement but to the publicity about him, as well as to the advertisements promoting his candidacy. Osmeña continues to believe that a presidential endorsement carries little weight for a candidate, saying that Filipino voters like to decide for themselves.
Whether the presidential endorsement would decide the outcome of next year’s presidential election in favor of Roxas remains to be seen. But it’s even more uncertain if Poe’s 20-point program will swing the vote for her.
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