2016 presidential poll still too close to call - analyst

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - For political analyst Aries Arugay of the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, the presidential election is still anyone's ballgame despite the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showing Vice President Jejomar Binay pulling ahead of his closest rivals.

"It's still too close to call even if Binay is ahead. All three (Grace Poe, Rodrigo Duterte, and Mar Roxas) are in a statistical tie," Arugay said in an email to ABS-CBN.

"While the undecided is only 1%, I think this can still change and voters will shift depending on the campaign, the outcome of Senator Grace Poe's DQ [disqualification] cases, and the actions of the current administration. I also think that attention might be shifted toward Binay with new congressional hearings and even the filing of cases," he said.

Arugay added that erstwhile front runner Senator Grace Poe is facing the fallout from her disqualification cases which are now pending before the Supreme Court (SC).

"Poe is having difficulty regaining her top position (30+%). I think the DQ cases continue to take its toll," he said.

However, he noted Binay is also benefiting from the fallout, as he has now overtaken Poe to be the front runner.

"It seems like the on-the-ground work of Binay is working but also the shift of national attention away from him to issues of disqualification (Poe and Duterte). Binay is benefiting from not being in the spotlight as well as diverging from the current administration," said Arugay.

BINAY'S FOCUS ON POOR

The camp of Binay said the Vice President is humbled by the people's trust in his capability to lead our country.

Lawyer Rico Quicho, vice presidential spokesperson for political affairs, said this will encourage Binay to work harder to uplift people's lives, fight poverty and provide employment.

"He will continue to emphasize that our country needs an experienced and competent leader to work for inclusive growth that would ultimately benefit the poor who comprise majority of our country," he added.

Poe, for her part, said: "I value the insights from public opinion surveys as an impetus to remain steadfast in my work and to continue reaching out to people to let them know about my platform and plans."

"I also urge my supporters to help me spread the word that I remain a candidate for President in the upcoming elections and I am ready to serve the people," the senator said.

Aside from Poe, Duterte is also facing disqualification cases at the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

"Gaya po ng sabi namin, if the situation does not change and the disqualification cases against Mayor Rody [Duterte] remain pending in the Comelec, then we cannot expect the numbers to change for the better. Marami din po mga malalaking politiko who share the same sentiment -- telling us ayaw nilang ma-Grace Poe. Ibig sabihin, ayaw nilang magaya sa mga politikong nagpakita ng suporta kay senadora Grace Poe ng maaga pagkatapos idi-disqualify lang pala ng Comelec," Duterte ally Davao Rep. Karlo Nograles said.

"Natatakot po sila na baka naman magdu-Duterte sila pagkatapos idi-DQ din pala ng Comelec, paano na? Kaya nga po, muli kami ay nananawagan sa Comelec saan na po, yung sinabi niyong bibilisan niyo pag-resolve sa DQ cases ni Mayor Rody? Paki-dismiss na po. Huwag na po tayong matakot sa kandidatura ni Mayor Rody.
Ganumpaman, kami po ay lubos na nagpapasalamat sa matinding suportang ipinapakita ng napakadami po nating mga kababayan para kay Mayor Rody. Ipagpatuloy po natin ang ating tiwala na change is coming!"

Meanwhile, Roxas' spokesman, Akbayan Rep. Ibarra Gutierrez, stressed that the "real survey" is in May.

"Hindi naman masyadong nakakapagtaka 'yung resulta. Pagkaupo pa lang ni Binay as VP, nangangampanya na siyang maging Presidente. Etong nakaraang ilang buwan, gumastos siya ng P700M para sa ads, at hanggang ngayon, hindi pa rin niya sinasabi kung saan ito nanggaling. Sa [Makati City] parking lot ba [nanggaling] 'yan, eskwelahan, Boy Scout, o ospital?" Gutierrez said.

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