Tough-Talking Mayor Keeps Poll Lead a Week Before Philippine Elections

By Reuters 4 May 2016

MANILA — A tough-talking mayor running for the presidency of the Philippines has kept his double-digit lead five days before elections, despite allegations he had undeclared millions of pesos in a bank, the latest opinion poll has showed.

Rodrigo Duterte was the number one choice among 33 percent of Filipinos in the Pulse Asia survey done on April 26-29, the same numbers from a similar survey among 4,000 respondents a week earlier, the poll released late on Tuesday showed.

Manuel Roxas, President Benigno Aquino’s hand-picked successor, moved up a spot into second place for the first time since June 2015 after rising 2 points to 22 percent support.

Senator Grace Poe, the adopted daughter of movie stars, fell back to third after dropping a point to 21 percent.

Vice President Jejomar Binay was in fourth place with 17 percent after losing a point, while support for Senator Miriam Santiago was unchanged at 2 percent.

“The survey did not reflect significant changes,” Pulse Asia president Professor Ronald Holmes said.

Political analysts said Duterte had struck a chord with most Filipinos who were frustrated and disappointed with the government’s inability to address mass transport and traffic problems in the capital, Manila.

His strong anti-crime platform also resonated among voters across all economic classes and in all geographical regions.

However, Holmes noted a dip in Duterte’s support in Manila over allegations he had not declared 211 million pesos (US$4.5 million) in his bank account.

The allegations about the undeclared money were made last week by Senator Antonio Trillanes, a candidate for vice president. Peter Lavina, a spokesman for Duterte, said the allegations were “nothing but a publicity stunt.”

The poll follows a tricky week for Duterte, who has also been trying to manage the fallout from controversial remarks he made at a campaign rally about an Australian missionary murdered and raped during a 1989 prison riot.

About 54 million Filipinos, including overseas workers, are eligible to vote in Monday’s elections.