election surveys

Erwin Tulfo leads potential bets for 2025 Senate race – survey

Iya Gozum

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Erwin Tulfo leads potential bets for 2025 Senate race – survey

Former Social Welfare secretary Erwin Tulfo receives his certificate of proclamation from Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Socorro Inting, during a proclamation ceremony at the Comelec headquarters on July 20, 2023. The Comelec en banc affirmed an earlier decision of the poll body's second division to dismiss the disqualification case against Tulfo as nominee for the ACT-CIS Party-list.


Senator Pia Cayetano was the only female in the so-called 'Magic 12' in the July 2023 survey of Oculum Research and Analytics Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – Armed with his family’s “political brand,” neophyte lawmaker Erwin Tulfo is the leading choice for senator in the 2025 elections, according to the results of a nationwide survey conducted in July but released on Friday, September 1.

Two old political names join Tulfo in the top three choices for senator, based on the results of a survey conducted by Oculum Research and Analytics Philippines from July 17 to 31 – former Senate president Tito Sotto and former president Rodrigo Duterte.

The poll had 1,200 respondents – 300 respondents each from the Metro Manila, the rest of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The specific areas were randomly selected through a computer-assisted tool.

The list of candidates provided in the survey was predetermined – a mixture of former senators, national, and local politicians – but respondents were given the choice to name their preferred candidates who were not on the list.

Tulfo’s top spot in the survey could be attributed to the public’s recognition of the “Tulfo name as a political brand,” said Oculum chief political analyst Dennis Coronacion.

His brother, Raffy Tulfo, won a Senate seat in 2022. He has two relatives in the House of Representatives: wife ACT-CIS Representative Jocelyn Tulfo; and nephew Quezon City 2nd District Representative Ralph Tulfo.

Tulfo was President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s social welfare secretary but his nomination was bypassed by the Commission on Appointments due to citizenship issues. He late joined the House as a substitute nominee of ACT-CIS, which topped the party-list race in the 2022 elections.

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No opposition in ‘Magic 12’

The so-called “Magic 12” in the Oculum survey include Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto (7th), Willie Revillame (8th), and 2022 vice presidential candidate Willie Ong (9th).

Senator Pia Cayetano, at 4th place, is the lone female in the top 12. The President’s sister, Senator Imee Marcos, is ranked 15th.

Former senator Ping Lacson, who lost a second presidential bid in 2022, was ranked 6th in the survey, after Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa. 

There were no opposition figures in Oculum’s Magic 12. Senate Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros is on her second term, which ends in 2028.

Mar Roxas III, who ran for president in 2016, ranked outside the top 12, along with former vice president Leni Robredo and former senator Kiko Pangilinan. 

Coronacion said the absence of a member of the opposition in the top 12 preferences for senator can be traced to former president Duterte’s sustained attacks against the opposition leaders during his administration, portraying them as ineffective and representative of the elite class.

“That continues to this day – the image, the perception of the public that they are ineffective and that they represent the elite class. And that they don’t represent the interests of the lower classes. So I think that kind of perception toward the opposition politicians continue until today,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Journalist Manny Mogato cited the case of former senator Richard “Dick” Gordon who ranked second to the last in the list of 24. He linked this to the Gordon-led probe into the Pharmally scandal that tainted the Duterte administration.

“If you look at the top 24, look at where former senator Dick Gordon is placed. He’s in the lower bracket. Why? It’s because Senator Gordon was the one who was hammering the administration especially President Duterte during the Pharmally investigation,” Mogato said in a mix of English and Filipino.

“And the Pharmally report was rejected by his peers in the Senate. And social media has been unforgiving to people who oppose former president Duterte,” he added.

Here’s the list of voters preferences for senator as of July 2023, according to the Oculum survey:

  1. Erwin Tulfo
  2. Vicente “Tito” Sotto
  3. Rodrigo Duterte
  4. Pia Cayetano
  5. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa
  6. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson
  7. Vico Sotto
  8. Willie Revillame
  9. Willie Ong
  10. Lito Lapid
  11. Manny Villar
  12. Manny Pacquiao
  13. Ramon “Bong” Revilla
  14. Isko Moreno Domagoso
  15. Maria Imelda “Imee” Marcos
  16. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go
  17. Gringo Honasan
  18. Mar Roxas III
  19. Kiko Pangilinan
  20. Jejomar Binay
  21. Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo
  22. Herbert Bautista
  23. Richard Gordon
  24. Herminio “Harry” Roque


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Iya Gozum

Iya Gozum covers the environment, agriculture, and science beats for Rappler.