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Philippine Elections: New survey shows tight race between two contenders

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Running third in the surveys of the two leading pollsters, the Nacionalista Party (NP) tandem of Senators Manny Villar and Loren Legarda are turning to a third survey outfit for hope on the eve of Monday’s elections, reported the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Giving them a glimmer of hope is the Issues and Advocacy Center (Center), whose latest survey showed the NP running mates in a tight race with their Liberal Party rivals—fellow senators Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and Mar Roxas II.

According to the Center, the nationwide voters’ preference, “Pulso ng Pilipino,” conducted from April 26 to May 2 involving 2,400 respondents showed Villar in a neck-and-neck race with Aquino, who leads by a “mere three percentage points.”

Aquino had 28 percent, Villar 25, Gilbert Teodoro of the ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD third at 20 percent and ousted President Joseph Estrada of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino fourth at 18 percent.

In a press statement, NP spokesperson Gilbert Remulla said the figures are a “very good indication.”

“It just goes to show that Senator Villar is not as far behind as being projected by other polling firms. Given NP’s extensive machinery and highly organised ground troops, our opponents may just be in for a big surprise,” Remulla said.

The results of the Center surveys differ from those earlier released by both Social Weather Stations (SWS) and Pulse Asia, both of which showed that Villar had fallen to third place behind Aquino and ousted President Estrada and Legarda also dropping to third behind Roxas and Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay.

Remulla quoted reports circulating in the Internet and other media which alleged Aquino’s apparent influence on both firms—with stockholders and founders of SWS and Pulse Asia being close relatives of Aquino.

Remulla said that Villar’s nationwide grassroots organization would deliver the votes for their candidate and would assure them of victory come Election Day. It added that they have the command votes from their huge national and local network.

In the vice presidential race, the Center had Roxas maintaining his lead over closest rival Legarda. Roxas got 34 percent against Legarda’s 29 percent, or a difference of 5 points. As in its previous survey, Binay was in third place at 25 percent, the Center said.

Ed Malay, the Center’s director, explained at a press briefing in Quezon City that the vice presidential race remained “close” with only 5 percent separating Roxas and Legarda.

Malay said that the Center, after analyzing the results of the latest survey, viewed Legarda as “fast emerging as an alternative vice presidential candidate of political leaders nationwide who do not want to support Roxas, Edu Manzano or Binay.”

Malay said local political leaders would always look for a “winnable candidate” to support.

“And Legarda provides these political leaders with that opportunity, especially those who do not like Roxas,” said the pollster, noting that Legarda had topped the senatorial elections in 1998 and 2007.

Malay also said the race for the presidency has been reduced to four candidates—Aquino, Villar, Teodoro and Estrada.

“It’s statistically impossible for other presidential aspirants to even get close to the race leaders as the voters may have already decided on their choices,” said Malay, referring to other presidential candidates Richard Gordon, Jamby Madrigal, Nicanor Perlas, Eddie Villanueva and JC de los Reyes. “Villar keeps Noynoy in sight with strong political support on the ground,” said Malay.

“(Villar) is in a good position to unleash the potential of his nationwide organization to generate the needed votes that will assure him of victory,” said Malay.

Malay also said that as far as “command votes” were concerned, Villar was leading considering the huge national and local network of NP, which Malay considered as the most organised party.

On the vice presidential race, Malay said that what this pre-poll survey of the Center “shows is that Legarda who lacks the resources available to Roxas was able to keep pace with the vice presidential race leader by launching a spirited campaign nationwide which saw her go on the campaign trail almost on a daily basis.”


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