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Survey shows leading names in Senate polls




THE latest Pulse Asia survey shows the same familiar names at the top of the list – reelec­tionist Senators Grace Poe (75.6%), Cynthia Villar (66.6%), and Sonny Angara (58.5%); followed by former Senators Pia Cayetano (55.4%) and Mark Lapid (49.8%); reelectionists Nancy Binay (46.7%) and Aquilino Pimentel III (45.5%); and former senator Serge Osmeña (38.8%).

Rounding up the top 16 are former senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. (37.6%), Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos (36.7%), former senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada (36.3%), former PNP chief Ronald de la Rosa (35.7%), former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II (35.0%), reelection­ists JV Ejercito Estrada (33.6%) and Paolo “Bam” Aquino (32.6%), and former Duterte aide Lawrence “Bong” Go (29.7).

The midterm elections on May 13, 2019, will choose 12 senators, half of the membership of the Senate. The winners are likely to come from among these top 16 in the survey, but election cases may eliminate some of them and events in the next three months may affect the standings, so that those below these top 16 in the survey remain hopeful.

It is evident that political parties are not yet playing any significant role in our elections. Senator Poe first won as an independent in 2013 and was in both administration and opposition tickets in 2016. Villar is with the Nacionalista Party and Angara with the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, both minority parties. Today’s majority party, the PDP-Laban, has only one candidate in the top 8 of the latest SWS survey – Pimentel; and another two in the top 16 – Dela Rosa and Go. The previous administration’s majority Liberal Party has only Roxas.

It is the individual appeals and records of the candidates that are playing a major role in these elections. Senator Poe started as the daughter of the greatly popular movie star Fernando Poe Jr. and buttressed this with her championship of concerns close to the hearts of ordinary folk, such as health and environment, education for indigenous people, and the difficulties of commuting in Metro Manila.

Aside from the top 16 in the survey, there are 54 other declared senatorial candidates and two of them are quite well-known – Francis Tolentino and Juan Ponce Enrile. Tolentino has President Duterte’s personal support while Enrile has a rich background as part of the nation’s political history.

We will be following closely the coming 12-week campaign in the senatorial and party-list congressional elections starting Feb. 12. The six-week campaign for local positions will begin March 30 will draw intense local community interest, but the national campaign for senators will have greater national significance, for it will choose leaders, whose decisions will immediately affect the national interest.