MANILA - Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago is confident that support from the youth who "look beyond traditional politics and early campaigning," will propel her to victory in next year's elections.
Santiago's office on Sunday welcomed her landslide win at the mock presidential elections held at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) last November 26.
The mock polls in UPLB saw Santiago as top choice for president of 1,507 students, or 65.75 percent of 2,292 respondents.
Far behind her was Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte with 18.32 percent of votes.
The three other prominent presidential candidates had voter shares of less than five percent: Liberal Party bet Mar Roxas, 4.97 percent; Sen. Grace Poe, 4.36 percent; and Vice President Jejomar Binay, 2.01 percent.
In a press statement, Santiago said the result of the mock survey is proof that the youth, who comprise some 37 percent of voters in the 2016 elections, look beyond traditional politics and early campaigning.
The senator also acknowledged the impact of youth vote in the presidential race.
"The candidate with the greatest youth support has greater chances of winning, not only because of the sheer size of the youth vote, but also because of their persuasive power. People listen to the young, because it is their future at stake," she said.
Some 54 million Filipinos are expected to vote next year, 20 million of them aged 18 to 35. That means that even only 75 percent of youth votes can give a candidate 15 million -- close to the number that made Benigno Aquino III president in 2010.
Santiago said that her victory in the mock elections, despite the fact that she has yet to release campaign advertisements, validates the results of a Facebook-based survey where she also emerged as winner, with 48.36 percent of respondents favoring her.
"In the 1992 elections, the youth not only voted for me, they campaigned for me on a volunteer basis. This new generation seems ready to do the same through social media," added the senator who has millions of followers on Facebook and Twitter.
In the UPLB survey, only students who are qualified to vote in the 2016 elections were allowed to participate through booths in the campus. The respondents were also asked to write their student numbers to prevent double voting.
UPLB political science instructor Miguel Enrico Ayson said the mock polls followed the voting process in actual elections, with students given sample ballots and were asked to shade the circle before the names of their preferred candidate.
The lawmaker's office earlier said the result of a survey on Facebook page Pinoy History showed that 48.36 percent of respondents want the feisty senator as president in 2016.
She was followed by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, 42.35 percent; former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, 3.86 percent; Sen. Grace Poe, 2.15 percent; and Vice President Jejomar Binay, 1.28 percent.
(READ: Palace downplays Miriam's performance in FB poll)
Santiago also topped an earlier UPLB mock elections conducted by a class of social psychology students. She garnered with 57.44 percent of the total 1,170 votes cast last May.
She was followed in that survey by Duterte with 7.01 percent; Poe, 5.56 percent; Sen. Chiz Escudero and former Sen. Dick Gordon, 4.44 percent each; Binay, 3.5 percent; and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, 2.31 percent.
Santiago's office added that she also led a survey on the official Facebook fan page of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, getting 64 percent of the total 135,622 votes cast from October 16 to October 25.