The final polls before the Philippines 2016 presidential election show Rodrigo Duterte ahead of the competition, now more than 10 points ahead of Sen. Grace Poe and holding his lead as voting nears.
Just a few weeks ago, Duterte and Poe were neck and neck in polling for this week’s presidential election, but within the last two weeks the Davao City mayor has pulled ahead.
In the final BusinessWorld – Social Weather Stations (SWS) Pre-Election Survey released this week, Duterte had the support of 33 percent of the 4,500 voters surveyed. Poe came in second with 22 percent while Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II came in third with 20 percent. Vice President Jejomar Binay followed with 13 percent while Miriam Defensor-Santiago was fifth with 2 percent.
While Rodrigo Duterte has been in the lead for at least three weeks, the final Philippines presidential poll showed that his lead may be slipping slightly. A Pulse Asia poll released in late April (via the Wall Street Journal) showed that Duterte held a 12-point lead over Poe at the time, 35 percent to 23 percent.
But Rodrigo Duterte has maintained the lead even amid a series of scandals. His most recent one came after a report uncovered P2.4 billion in transactions in his alleged 17 accounts in three banks. As Inquirer noted, Duterte responded with “flippant answers” that he couldn’t remember how much was in the accounts.
“‘I could not say exactly because of the zeroes,’ he said.
“Asked why he did not declare the bank accounts in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN), Duterte replied: ‘I already spent it.’
“He did not say where the money came from, but earlier, he said friends gave him money as birthday gift.”
Duterte remained defiant against his critics, saying he would “shut down Congress” if he were impeached over the scandal.
Prior to that, Duterte got in trouble after an interview surfaced in which he joked about the 1989 rape and murder of an Australian missionary in Davao City, where he was mayor at the time.
“I was angry she was raped, yes that was one thing. But she was so beautiful, I think the mayor should have been first. What a waste,” he said (via CNN).
Again Duterte refused to apologize, and even disavowed an apology issued on his behalf by his party.
Duterte has embraced his tough reputation, promising to wage a “bloody war” against criminals. Duterte has been connected to a so-called hit squad that conducted extra-judicial killings in Davao City, which has brought the attention of human rights groups. Duterte told the Makati Business Club that he would allow police to crack down on street gangs by shielding them from these human rights watchdogs, Reuters reported.
“I will use the military and the police to go out and arrest them [criminals], hunt for them and if they offer a violent resistance…I will simply say, kill them all so we can finish this problem,” he was quoted by Reuters.
The Philippines presidential election could have an impact across the region. The country has been growing its economy, growing GDP by 5.8 percent last year and beating out many of its Asian neighbors. The Asian Development Bank is predicting 6 percent growth this year, CNBC noted.
“In many respect, this is the most important political date for the Philippines in years. The president has only one six-year term and President Benigno Aquino’s term is up this year. Markets are nervous about his replacement due to the immense potential that the Philippines holds,” Natixis senior economist Trinh D. Nguyen said in a note.
With the final 2016 Philippines presidential polls in the books, there are now just two days left until the nation turns out to vote on Monday.
[Photo by KJ Rosale/Associated Press]