‘Daang Matuwid real front runner in 2016’ – Roxas

MANILA, Philippines – He says it’s a sign that voters want the current administration’s “Daang Matuwid (Straight Path)" to continue. But will that supposed clamor be enough to bring presumptive Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II to Malacañang?

Roxas, who is also interior secretary, obtained  a 10% voters' preference rating in Pulse Asia  Research's June 2015 Nationwide Survey on the May 2016 Elections – his second double-digit rating in the pollster's pre-election surveys on next year's elections.

In a statement on Thursday, June 18, Roxas trumpeted the "150% increase" in voters' preference for him as president.

“Personally, na-touch ako at lubos akong nagpapasalamat sa mga kababayan natin sa 150% na pagtaas sa tiwalang binibigay nila sa akin (Personally, I am touched and thank our fellowmen for the 150% increase in their trust in me),” said Roxas.

“This trajectory is in the right direction, tama lang (just) one year before elections,” he added. 

Although he now boasts of a 10% preference rating, with a 3% margin of error, Roxas is still 4th among presidential hopefuls in the latest survey. 

The June 2015 survey results marks the first time for Vice President Jejomar Binay, who heads the opposition, not to top the list of choices. He is now second to neophyte Senator Grace Poe who now leads all presidential hopefuls with a 30% preference rating.

Between Binay and Roxas is the tough-talking mayor of Davao City, Rodrigo Duterte. Tied with Roxas for 4th to 5th place is former president now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, also with a 10% rating. 

Long climb

It’s been a long climb for the presumptive LP standard-bearer, who at one point registered a measly 4% in the surveys. Unlike Poe and Duterte, who enjoyed a sudden surge in their initial inclusion in surveys on the 2016 elections, Roxas had been often stuck with single-digit numbers, ranking 4th to even 6th. 

He obtained 13% voters' preference in the Pulse Asia poll in September 2014 – his first double-digit rating. At the time, Vice President Jejomar Binay was being pummeled by his former allies with corruption allegations at a Senate probe that began in August that year. (READ: VP Binay's lead in presidential poll drops)

Roxas' numbers dropped to 6% in the next Pulse survey in November.

His best showing was in a Social Weather Stations “top-of-mind” poll released in December 2014, where he registered 19%. In that survey, respondents were allowed to list down 3 options when asked who should succeed President Benigno Aquino III. 

The June 2015 Pulse Asia survey, meanwhile, allows respondents to list down only one name when asked, “Whom would you vote for as President of the Philippines if the 2016 elections were held today and they were candidates?”

Roxas has yet to declare his plans for 2016, but LP members and allies have long been pushing for his presidential bid. The interior secretary has dropped heavy hints of his presidential bid, repeatedly saying that he is “ready” to continue the administration’s work.

“The result has further strengthened my resolve to prepare and be ready to continue the reforms that have already been started,” Roxas said, reacting to the Pulse Asia survey. 

The Aquino push 

Though he has been lagging in surveys, LP members are confident that Roxas would climb higher in polls leading up to 2016. They are particularly banking on President Benigno Aquino III’s endorsement to improve Roxas’ numbers. 

Roxas expressed the same mindset in his Thursday statement. 

“Daang Matuwid is the real front runner in the 2016 race. [President Aquino], as the embodiment of this administration, registered very strong trust and performance ratings of +50 and +54 respectively. The voters want Daang Matuwid to continue,” he said. 

He added, “I am confident that 2016 will be more about leadership values of proven honesty, a track record of performance, and good governance rather than popularity and personalities.” 

“Daang Matuwid” is the Aquino administration’s tagline for its anti-corruption and transparency agenda.

“The results are clear,” said Roxas of the Pulse Asia survey results. “Daang Matuwid is the real front runner in the 2016 race.” 

Aquino is not set to announce his – and his party’s – anointed candidate until after his last State of the Nation Address in July. 

Other options? 

While LP leaders and allies have declared their support for Roxas in 2016, some want Poe to be the party’s standard-bearer instead. Aquino himself has been in meetings with Poe to discuss the 2016 elections and the administration’s reform agenda, though it remains unclear if he wants her to be the LP's presidential or vice presidential candidate.

Poe had said in past interviews that she wants to remain an independent candidate and that she is not inclined to become Roxas’ vice president. 

Aquino has expressed openness to push for a candidate other than Roxas, but had told reporters said that the interior secretary is “top of the list.” 

Roxas’ bid for the presidency is a long-time coming. He was prepared to run in 2010 but slid down in late 2009 to make way for Aquino, whose popularity was boosted by the death of his mother, EDSA Revolution icon and former president Cory Aquino. 

Instead, Roxas ran as vice president but lost to Binay. 

Parties and politicians have a little over 4 months before they have to finally make a decision. The filing of candidacies begin late October 2015. – Rappler.com