MANILA, Philippines – If the 2016 national elections were held today, the top 6 senators would be familiar names: re-electionists or returnees, according to a Social Weather Stations (SWS) poll.
The survey, conducted September 2-5, 2015 puts incumbent senator Vicente Sotto III at the number 1 spot, with 54% of respondents saying they would vote for him had elections been held on the day they were polled.
The SWS survey was first made public late Tuesday evening, September 22, through BusinessWorld online. It also showed a 3-way tie among presidential candidates Senator Grace Poe, Vice President Jejomar Binay, and former Interior secretary Manuel Roxas II.
Joining Sotto in the “top 6” are the following:
- #2 Former senator Panfilo Lacson
- #3 Incumbent senator Ralph Recto
- #4 Incumbent Senate President Franklin Drilon
- #5 Incumbent senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.
- #6 Former senator Francis Pangilinan
Both Lacson and Pangilinan also served as Cabinet secretaries under President Benigno Aquino III but have since resigned.
The only new name to break the monotony of re-electionists and returnees is Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who ranked 7th with 33% of respondents saying they would vote for her.
The 5 other names in the “magic 12” include Senate returnees, a boxing champion turned congressman, and the son of a former and incumbent senator:
- #8 Juan Miguel Zubiri with 32%
- #9 Boxer and Saranggani Representative Manny Pacquiao with 30%
- #10 Richard Goron with 29%
- #11 Incumbent senator Sergio Osmeña with 28%
- #12 Las Piñas Representative Mark Villar, son of former Senate President Manny Villar and incumbent senator Cynthia Villar with 24%
De Lima the outlier
The survey made respondents pick 12 senatorial bets from a list of 44, and was conducted after the anointment by President Benigno Aquino of Roxas as his preferred candidate, and a few days after the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) staged a nationwide protest against the government’s alleged overreach into its internal affairs.
The local church, known to exert its influence on local politics, wanted De Lima’s resignation and the dropping of serious illegal detention charges against its top ministers.
After almost 5 days of protesting, the INC abruptly stopped its protest after discussions with government. De Lima did not resign and the case pending before the Justice Department is set to undergo the usual process.
De Lima said it was “heartening” to know her rank in the SWS poll, but insisted she wasn’t “100% sure” of a Senate run up until the ruling Liberal Party (LP) officially announces its slate next week.
Just outside the “magic 12” are incumbent senator Teofisto Guingona III and Camarines Sur Representative Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, who are tied for the 13th and 14th spots with 23 percentage points.
Weeks after the survey was held, Robredo was offered the vice president position by the ruling LP.
PhilHealth director Risa Hontiveros and Taguig Representative Lino Cayetano are tied at the 15th-16th rank with 21 percentage points apiece.