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Poe overtakes Binay in SWS poll; Robredo gains most

MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – Senator Grace Poe has overtaken Vice President Jejomar Binay in the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey released early Monday, March 14, though the race for the presidency remains tight.

The results of the survey, first published in BusinessWorld, showed Poe with 27%, 3 percentage points higher than her performance in the previous survey.

Opposition leader Binay went down to 24% with a 5-point drop, while administration standard-bearer Manuel "Mar" Roxas II bounced back with 22% – a 4-percentage point increase from his performance in the February poll. Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, meanwhile, lost 3 percentage points, but remains very close to the other candidates with 21%.

Poe told reporters she would continue campaigning extensively to boost her numbers further.

"Ako'y nagpapasalamat sa ating mga kababayan sa kanilang patuloy na suporta. Basta kami nag-iikot lang kasi alam mo naman ang survey nag-iiba-iba," she said.

(I thank our countrymen for their support. I will just go on campaigning in different provinces because, as you know, survey figures are fluid.)

The Roxas camp, for their part, attributed his higher numbers to "the public seeing his true character and credibility."

"Very clear na among all the presidential candidates na siya ang may malinaw na plano, siya 'yung pinakahanda na maging pangulo, at na-a-appreciate 'yun, tingin ko, ng karamihan sa ating mga kababayan," said Roxas' spokesperson, Akbayan Representative Ibarra Gutierrez.

(It's very clear that among all the presidential candidates, Roxas has the clearest plan, he is the most prepared to become president, and I think that most of our countrymen appreciate that.)

Duterte's camp, meanwhile, said in a statement that the mayor is "not bothered" by the results of the new survey. 

"It's good. At the end of the day, I will be your last card," Duterte was quoted as telling reporters.

He added: "I do not question survey companies. But you are not there until you are there. That has always been the rule in the elections. You are not there until you are there."

The SWS survey was conducted among 1,800 voters from March 4 to 7, less than two weeks after the first presidential debate in Cagayan de Oro City on February 21.

In the SWS poll conducted January 2016, Binay had been the clear leader with 31%. But this figure dropped slightly to 29% in the February 2016 survey, before registering 24% this month.

Poe, in contrast, had 24% both in January and February, staying flat, before her rise in March.

In another survey by Pulse Asia released earlier this month, Poe and Binay are said to be statistically tied for first place. The Standard Poll, which came out a few days after, said that Poe, Duterte, and Binay are tied.

Vice presidential bets

In the vice presidential race, Roxas' running mate Camarines Sur Third District Representative Leni Robredo was the biggest gainer in the new SWS poll.

Robredo jumped 5 points higher to 24%, narrowing the gap with the two survey leaders – senators Francis Escudero and Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.

Escudero and Marcos remain statistically tied with 28% and 26%, respectively. Escudero, however, slightly rose two points, while Marcos' performance was flat.

The two first became tied in the February 2016 poll, which was also the first time that Escudero lost the lead since BusinessWorld and SWS began conducting their pre-election surveys in September 2015.

In a statement, Robredo said the new survey "reinvigorated and inspired her to double her efforts to bring her advocacies, plans, and programs down to the countryside."

"Asahan ninyong lalo pa nating pagsisipagan, paghuhusayan, at paiigtingin ang ating pag-iikot sa huling walong linggo ng kampanya," she added.

(I assure you that I will work harder, strive to be better, and intensify my visits to provinces in the last 8 weeks of the campaign period.)