MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - Vice President Jejomar Binay remains the top presidential contender in the 2016 elections, but Senator Grace Poe's popularity level is catching up with the vice-president's, the latest survey from the Social Weather Stations (SWS) said.
A March 20-23 survey, results of which were first published by BusinessWorld, shows that Binay's numbers barely changed from the previous presidential preference poll last November 2014.
SWS said Binay got 36%, just a percentage-point drop from the previous SWS survey last November.
SWS noted that while Binay's numbers barely changed, Poe – who has not yet declared her intention to run in 2016 – saw her numbers jump by 10-percentage points to 31%.
Given the survey's margin of error of plus/minus 3%, Binay and Poe were actually statistically tied in the March survey.
The independent pollster said the respondents were not given a list to choose from and were instead asked to give names of up to three persons whom they thought should succeed President Benigno Aquino III.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who had said in February that he had no intention of seeking the presidency, also saw a 10-point jump in his figures to 15%.
Duterte is tied for third place with Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, who lost four points to 15% from 19%.
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada were tied for the fourth spot with 11% each (from 10% and 9%, respectively).
Senator Francis Escudero got 8% (from 9%); Ferdinand Marcos Jr. 7% (from 3%); and Senator Alan Peter Cayetano 4% (from 3).
POE HUMBLED BY RESULTS
In a statement in reaction to the latest SWS survey, Rico Quicho, Binay's spokesman for political affairs, said: "The Vice President is truly grateful for the trust and recognition as shown by the results of the latest SWS presidential survey. This is defined by the competence and compassion of the Vice President as manifested in his programs in Makati especially in health and education and assisting OFWs as Presidential Adviser on OFW concerns and the gains achieved by the Pag-IBIG Fund."
"The Vice President is focused on the task at hand and would continue to provide his kind of leadership and performance whoever will be the other presidential aspirants."
Poe, meanwhile, said she is humbled by the results of the survey, adding that she sees it as a "positive appreciation and validation by a good number of our countrymen of my work."
"It inspires me that our people approve of what I have been doing and I will continue to do what I think is right and for the best interest of our countrymen," Poe said.
SWS said the survey, conducted via face-to-face interviews with 1,200 adults nationwide, had sampling error margins of ±3 points for national percentages, and ±6 points each for Metro Manila, ''Balance of Luzon,'' the Visayas and Mindanao.