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Grace Poe barges into contention in SWS-BW survey

Posted on January 28, 2013

WITH THE ELECTION period having started but campaigning still proscribed, not much has changed -- with one exception -- in a Social Weather Stations- BusinessWorld (SWS-BW) survey regarding the likely winners of the “Magic 12” Senate race.

The top three spots continue to be held by reelectionists, and three other colleagues also figure in the list. Familiar political names took all but one of the remaining six spots -- although some saw ranking reversals -- and one fell out of the top 12 for the first time.

The surprise in the Jan. 17-19 survey was Grace Poe-Llamanzares who, after not ranking higher than 20th in the last two SWS-BW polls, barged into contention.

The ruling Liberal Party (LP) alliance and the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) all but evenly split the list of likely “Magic 12” winners with their own and shared candidates, although the latter had the edge in terms of rankings.

Staying in first place was reelectionist Sen. Lorna Regina “Loren” B. Legarda of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) with a score of 65%. She is claimed by both the LP and the UNA.

Ms. Legarda was followed by fellow reelectionist senators Francis Joseph “Chiz” G. Escudero -- independent and another common candidate -- and Alan Peter S. Cayetano (Nacionalista Party-LP), who took 62% and 60%, respectively.

Rising to fourth, from fifth previously, was San Juan Rep. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito (UNA) who was favored by 53% of the survey respondents.

In joint fifth to sixth were re-electionists Gregorio “Gringo” B. Honasan (UNA) and Aquilino Martin “Koko” D. Pimentel III (Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan-LP), who scored an identical 48%. Mr. Honasan was up from 8th previously and Mr. Pimentel was 6th-7th last month.

Rising to 7th, meanwhile, from 9th-10th in December was former senator Juan Miguel “Migz” F. Zubiri (UNA) who scored 47%.

Tied for 8th to 9th places were former Las Piñas representative Cynthia A. Villar (NP-LP) and Cagayan Rep. Juan Ponce “Jack” Enrile, Jr. (NPC-UNA) with 46% each. Both registered declines from the last poll: Ms. Villar was 4th in December while Mr. Enrile was 6th-7th. Ms. Villar is the wife of outgoing Sen. Manuel B. Villar, Jr. while Mr. Enrile is the son of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, whose term runs to 2016.

Ranked 10th-11th, meanwhile, were reelectionist Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV (NP-LP) and Ms. Poe (independent-common candidate), who both scored 45%. Ms. Poe, former chief of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, is the daughter of the deceased actor Fernando Poe Jr., who unsuccessfully ran for president in 2004.

The 12th and final slot went to Maria Lourdes Nancy S. Binay (UNA) who scored 43%, although the SWS said Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” M. Angara (Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino-LP), with 39% and ranked 13th, could still take the seat. Ms. Binay -- the daughter of Vice-President Jejomar C. Binay -- was 9th-10th in the last survey, while the ranking of Mr. Angara -- son of outgoing Sen. Edgardo J. Angara -- was unchanged.

Former senator Richard “Dick” J. Gordon (UNA), 12th last December, fell to 14th place with 36%.

Gaining, but in 15th, still a way off from joining the “Magic 12,” was Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV (34%), cousin of President Benigno S. C. Aquino III. Immediately behind were fellow LP candidates and former senators Ramon “Jun” Magsaysay Jr. (33%) and Maria Ana Consuelo “Jamby” A. Madrigal (28%), who saw dips in the rankings.

Sought for comment, University of the Philippines political analyst Ramon C. Casiple said the results showed “name recall” remained the basis for the respondents’ choices.

Things could change, however, once campaigning for the Senate slots starts on Feb. 19, he said. “Platform will matter,” Mr. Casiple noted.

Ms. Legarda, meanwhile, attributed her ranking to “hard work.”

“No gimmicks, no paid TV ads, just plain hard work. I am glad that issues I advocated decades ago like environment and climate change have even become more relevant now,” she claimed.

Mr. Ejercito, son of former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, said he hoped the “consistent show of support ... can be sustained.”

Mr. Honasan, meanwhile, said: “[the results are] heartwarming, but I want to just concentrate first on my work as a senator.”

Mr. Angara, on the knife’s edge in two successive surveys after initially ranking 5th-7th in August last year, said: “it is a tight and highly competitive race with the incumbent senators having the edge in terms of publicity, which explains why they are all ensconced within the top slots. Newbies like myself have to work harder to move up...”

The January 2013 SWS-BW pre-election survey was conducted using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 registered voters who were asked to pick up to 12 names from a list of 33 official senatorial candidates. The error margins are ±3% for national and ±6 for area percentages.

Half of the Senate’s 24 seats are up for grabs in the May 13 elections, where Filipinos will also choose a new House of Representatives and local officials from the municipal level up. The election period officially began on Jan. 13. -- with a report from Noemi M. Gonzales

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated the name of one senatorial candidate. It should be Grace Poe-Llamanzares (not Grace Llamanzares-Poe).