MANILA, Philippines – If the presidential elections were held today, it would be a tight four-way race among Vice President Noli de Castro, Senators Manny Villar, Loren Legarda and Francis Escudero, according to a recent survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS).
The First Quarter 2009 Social Weather Survey, taken from Feb. 20 to 23, showed that De Castro is favored by 27 percent of respondents, followed closely by Villar with 26 percent, Legarda, 25 percent and Escudero, 23 percent.
They were followed by Senators Mar Roxas, 15 percent; Panfilo Lacson, 14 percent and former President Joseph Estrada, 13 percent.
SWS explained that no list of names was provided to prompt the respondents.
The SWS survey used face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults divided into random samples of 300 each in Metro Manila, the balance of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
The non-commissioned survey also found four percent of respondents mentioning Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, while about one percent mentioned Senators Richard Gordon, Ramon Revilla Jr., Jinggoy Estrada, and Francis Pangilinan, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay and Metro Manila Development Authority chair Bayani Fernando.
SWS said 13 percent of respondents could not give an answer and seven percent had no one to recommend.
The respondents were asked: “Under the present Constitution, the term of President Arroyo is up to 2010 only, and there will be an election for a new president in May 2010. Who do you think are good leaders who should succeed President Arroyo? You may give up to three names.”
According to SWS, the question wording has been exactly the same in the past six quarterly surveys shown.
Compared to the SWS December 2008 survey, those with decrease in mentions were De Castro by four points; Legarda by three points and Villar by one point.
The mentions rose for Roxas by five points, Escudero by four points, Santiago by three points and Estrada by two points.
The survey has sampling error margins of plus or minus three percent for national percentages and plus or minus six percent for area percentages.
Too early to tell
Escudero said the latest results of the SWS survey make it easier for him to decide whether to run for the presidency when he turns 40 in October.
“I am humbled to be one of those mentioned as a possible replacement of PGMA. I am particularly happy the people feel that I can lead this nation,” he said.
Escudero has said he will announce his political plans when he turns 40 on Oct. 10, making him qualified to run for the presidency.
Villar said the values of sipag and tiyaga (hard work and industry) have helped him improve not only his life but also his capacity to be of service to the people.
“Having come from poor, simple beginnings, I am very gratified that our kababayan have approved of what we have been doing so far. The people’s trust expressed in this survey inspires us to continue working so we can help improve more lives,” Villar said.
Roxas, on the other hand, said he would be happier if the ratings came from the poorest Filipinos.
“Malayo pa ang laban (It’s still a long way to go), and I don’t want to make a self-serving analysis of my own ratings at this point. It’s hard to think of that while people are hard up and losing jobs. Despite that, I am thankful for the apparently increasing dividend I am getting from the polls even if I frankly don’t know where the uptick came from. I trust the people and I am always conscious that any political capital I have comes from them.” – Helen Flores, Aurea Calica