MANILA - Sixty percent of Filipinos believe Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III would be the best leader to succeed President Arroyo when she steps down in 2010, according to a new survey by Social Weather Stations (SWS), which allowed respondents to give up to 3 names.
The survey, conducted last September 18-21 and disclosed Wednesday, showed Aquino taking the top spot in the people’s three best successors to President Arroyo. He is followed by Sen. Manny Villar who got 37%, and former President Joseph Estrada at 18%.
Sen. Francis Escudero placed fourth in the survey with 15% followed by Sen. Mar Roxas (12%), Vice-President Noli de Castro (8%), Sen Loren Legarda (5%), and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro (4%).
Sen. Panfilo Lacson placed ninth in the survey with 2% followed by Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay (2%).
At 1% each were Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Bayani Fernando and Jesus is Lord founder Eddie Villanueva.
A total of 1,800 adults participated in the nationwide survey, which has an error margin of ±2.3%.
Each respondent was asked the question: “Sa ilalim ng kasalukuyang Konstitusyon, ang termino ni Pang. Arroyo ay hanggang sa taong 2010 lamang at magkakaroon ng halalan para sa pagka-pangulo sa Mayo 2010. Sinu-sino sa palagay ninyo ang mga magagaling na lider na dapat pumalit kay Pang. Arroyo bilang Presidente? Maaari po kayong magbanggit ng hanggang tatlong sagot.”
[Under the present Constitution, the term of Pres. Arroyo is up to 2010 only, and there will be an election for a new President in May 2010. Who do you think are good leaders who should succeed Pres. Arroyo as President? You may give up to three names].
Since the survey respondents could give up to 3 names, adding and totalling the votes for each person could exceed 100%.
Six percent could not give an answer, and 4% had no one to recommend.
No list of names was provided to prompt the respondents.
Candidate to beat
Political analyst Ramon Casiple, meanwhile, said the survey only confirmed that Aquino is the candidate to beat in the 2010 election. He said public support for Aquino rose after the death of his mother, former President Corazon Aquino, on August 1.
He said other candidates must adjust their campaign strategy to cope with Aquino's surging popularity.
Aquino announced his bid for the presidency last September 9, 40 days after his mother's death. Liberal Party President Mar Roxas had earlier agreed to become his running mate.
An SWS survey conducted in Metro Manila, Pangasinan, Region 3 and Region 4A last September 5-6 earlier showed 50 percent of respondents choosing Aquino as their presidential preference for the 2010 elections.
In this survey, a list of names were provided to the respondents including Sen. Manny Villar (13%), former president Joseph Estrada (13%), Sen. Francis Escudero (12%) and Vice-President Noli de Castro (7%).
'Gibo made significant gains'
Administration officials, meanwhile, congratulated Aquino for his strong showing in the latest SWS survey.
Press Secretary Cerge Remonde, however, noted that administration bet Gilbert Teodoro made significant gains since the last survey, from a 0.8 percent rating to 4 percent.
Top officials of the ruling Lakas-Kampi Christian Muslim Democrats coalition earlier endorsed Teodoro's presidential bid, two days before the SWS survey was conducted.
Remonde said he expects Teodoro's popularity to rise even further after the defense chief headed relief operations in the aftermath of tropical storms Ondoy (Ketsana) and Pepeng (Parma).
He said Teodoro's actions during the relief operations underscored the candidate's decency since he did not capitalize on the calamity.
"No one can say that he took advantage of his position. He just did his job," he said.
For his part, the defense chief said that he would rather not think about surveys right now since it is more important to address the relief and rehabilitation of areas devastated by Ondoy and Pepeng.
Executive Secretary and Lakas-Kampi CMD president Eduardo Ermita downplayed the survey results, saying that it was too early to tell who has the advantage in next year's polls.
He also described as "politicking" former president Joseph Estrada's confirmation that he would run in the elections and the announcement of his party's tentative senatorial lineup. David Dizon, abs-cbnNEWS.com