MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Five months before the midterm elections, a "big plurality" or 43% of Filipinos voters have a complete list of preferred senatorial candidates, according to the results of a Pulse Asia, Incorporated survey held in December but released only on Wednesday, January 9.
Based on Pulse Asia’s Nationwide Survey on the May 2019 Senatorial Elections held from December 14 to 21, 2018, 2.2% of registered voters refuse to identify their senatorial candidates, 1.6% said they were not inclined to support any of the candidates, and 1.1% were unsure of their choices.
Reelectionist and former senators continued to dominate the so-called winning circle in the December 2018 survey.
Of the 15 names, only Ilocos Governor Imee Marcos and former Bureau of Corrections chief Ronald dela Rosa have no previous experience in the Senate. There were also only two opposition candidates who made it on the list.
In solo second place is Senator Cynthia Villar, with an overall voter preference of 66.6%.
Senator Juan Edgardo Angara (58.5%) and Taguig City Representative Pia Cayetano (55.4%), a former senator, shared the 3rd and 4th spots.
Former senator Lito Lapid (49.8%), Senator Nancy Binay (46.7%), and Senator Aquilino Pimentel III (45.5%) are in the 5th to 7th places.
Others in the probable winning circle are:
Roxas, Ejercito, and Aquino are not included in the Top 12 but still belong to the circle that has a “statistical chance of winning.”
Following the 3 are President Rodrigo Duterte’s close aide Bong Go (14th to 16th), former presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino (17th to 18th), and former Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile (17th to 18th).
The survey, conducted among 1,800 adults, has a nationwide error margin of ± 2.3% at 95% confidence level while for the regions, it has the following error margins: ± 6.5% for Metro Manila, ± 3.5% for the rest of Luzon, ± 5.2% for Visayas and ± 4.7% for Mindanao.
The news that dominated the survey period include the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan’s finding that former First Lady Imelda Marcos is guilty of graft, its acquittal of Revilla from plunder chargers over the pork barrel scam, Congress’ approval of the third extension of martial law in Mindanao, reports of alleged pork barrel insertions in the proposed 2019 budget, and the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping, among other issues.
Opposition is unfazed
Senator Francis Pangilinan, campaign manager of the opposition coalition’s senatorial lineup, said their bets are unfazed by their dismal survey numbers. The coalition has renamed its slate from “Oposisyon Koalisyon” to “Otso Diretso,” which translates to “Straight Eight.”
“We view surveys as guides to check if we are on the right track, but the desire to serve of our Otso Diretso candidates – Gary Alejano, Bam Aquino, Chel Diokno, Samira Gutoc, Pilo Hilbay, Romy Macalintal, Mar Roxas, and Erin Tañada – will see them through this election,” Pangilinan said in a statement.
“We will not be discouraged. Our candidates will continue to reach out to as many communities, introduce themselves, and lay down their platform. The election is still a long way away. We are confident the Filipinos will be discerning enough to elect candidates who will work for the best interest of the Filipino family,” he added. – with a report from Mara Cepeda/Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email firstname.lastname@example.org