Duterte admin-aligned Senate bets keep lead in latest Pulse Asia survey

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 15) — Senatorial candidates for the midterm polls endorsed by President Rodrigo Duterte and others who are aligned with his administration dominated the latest senatorial preference survey of Pulse Asia, leaving opposition bets trailing behind.

Former Special Assistant to the President Christopher "Bong" Go jumped to the eighth spot in the latest survey conducted January 26-31, up from the 16th spot in the December 2018 poll. Senator Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV climbed two spots to the 13th spot.

The only opposition bet in the so-called Magic 12 in the latest survey is former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, who went up by three places to the 10th spot. But while there are only 12 senatorial seats up for grabs, Pulse Asia said the top 15 candidates have a statistical chance of winning if the elections were held during the survey period.

Aside from Go, these senatorial candidates officially endorsed by President Rodrigo Duterte also figured in the Magic 12 position:

Cynthia Villar (60.5 percent)

Pia Cayetano (53.3 percent)

Sonny Angara (48.8 percent)

Koko Pimentel (45.5 percent)

Imee Marcos (41.2 percent)

However, Duterte's endorsement still proved lacking for former Philippine National Police chief Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa, former presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino and Maguindanao 2nd District Rep. Zajid Mangudadatu, who placed 15th, 18th and 20th, respectively, based on percentages of survey respondents' preference. The survey has a plus or minus 2.3 percent error margin at 95 percent confidence level..

Despite being dropped by Duterte from his senatorial lineup, former Senator and plunder accused Jinggoy Estrada placed ninth, way ahead of his incumbent stepbrother, Senator JV Ejercito who landed 16th.

Former Senator Bong Revilla, who was recently acquitted of plunder, dropped three notches to the 12th spot.

Go, Villar, Cayetano, Angara, Pimentel, Marcos, Dela Rosa, Tolentino, Mangudadatu, Estrada, Ejercito and Revilla are all part of the senatorial slate endorsed by Hugpong ng Pagbabago, an administration-aligned regional party founded by the President's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.

Meanwhile, veteran lawmakers are not faring well in the surveys, with former Senator Serge Osmeña dropping out of the "Magic 12" to the 14th spot and former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile still failing to pierce through the top 12.

An exception to this is action star and former Senator Lito Lapid, who rose one spot to the fourth place in the ratings.

Even without endorsements from Duterte, Senators Grace Poe and Nancy Binay maintained their standing in the survey, placing first and fifth, respectively.

Pulse Asia said they surveyed 1,800 likely voters aged 18 and above nationwide from January 26 to 31. Respondents were asked to pick up to 12 personalities they would vote for as senator from a list of names the pollster supplied. They could also mention names not in the list.