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Pulse Asia Research, Inc. is pleased to share with you some findings on the May 2019 Senatorial Elections from the December 2018 Ulat ng Bayan national survey. We request you to assist us in informing the public by disseminating this information.

The survey fieldwork was conducted from December 14 – 21, 2018 using face-to-face interviews. In the weeks leading up to the fieldwork for this survey and during the actual conduct of the interviews, the following local and international developments dominated the headlines:

Several key developments preoccupied Filipinos during the weeks immediately leading up to and during the survey period. These include the following:

1. The decision of the 5th Division of the Sandiganbayan finding former First Lady and incumbent Ilocos Norte Representative Imelda Marcos guilty of graft and sentencing her to serve six (6) to 11 years in prison for each of the seven (7) counts of anti-corruption law violations arising from the funneling of about US$ 200 M to Swiss foundations she created while serving as the Metropolitan Manila Governor while her husband, former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, was in office;

2. The acquittal by the Sandiganbayan of former Senator Ramon Revilla, Jr. of plunder in connection with his alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam although it ordered him to return P 124.5 M to the National Treasury; on the other hand, Ms. Janet Lim-Napoles and Mr. Richard Cambe, the ex-lawmaker’s aide, were found guilty and given a prison sentence of up to 40 years each;

3. The approval by the House of Representatives, via a vote of 224-22-3, on third and final reading of the Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 15 that seeks to shift the country to a federal system of government but does not specify the number of federal states;

4. The conviction of the three (3) police officers accused of killing Kian delos Santos in August 2017 by the Caloocan City  Regional Trial Court (RTC) and the order for them to pay the victim’s family P 345,000 in damages; President Rodrigo R. Duterte said he will not pardon these police officers because he will only defend law enforcers who fulfill their duties according to the law;

5. The approval by Congress, through a vote of 235-28-1, of the third extension of the declaration of martial law in Mindanao to 31 December 2019 despite criticisms that the continued implementation of martial rule in the area has resulted in human rights violations;

6. The passage by the Lower House on third and final reading of the General Appropriations Act (GAA) through a 196-8 vote; the total budget for 2019 is P 3.757 T, higher by 13% than the 2018 cash-based equivalent budget of P 3.324 T; lawmakers critical of the national budget claim it contained illegal pork barrel bunds and cuts on social services; however, the Senate failed to approve the national budget in time and hence, the government will be operating under a reenacted budget until February 2019;

7. The questioning of Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Benjamin Diokno by House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya, Jr. concerning the alleged insertions in the 2019 national budget, particularly the P 51 B worth of projects included in the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH); the DBM Secretary pointed out that the so-called insertion is an augmentation of the P 480 B budget of the DPWH already approved by the Duterte administration and that the amount involved is actually P 75 B and not P 51 B; in this connection, while House lawmakers called on President Duterte to fire DBM Secretary Diokno for “merging” his family’s interests with that of the public, their counterparts in the Senate defended the latter by saying he is doing a good job and describing him as “a man of integrity” and Malacañang Palace asserted that he continues to enjoy the President’s trust;

8. Senator Panfilo Lacson’s claim  that in addition to the P 2.4 B fund insertions in the budget allocated to the district of House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the P 1.9 B for the district of House Majority Leader Andaya, several districts in Bohol, Surigao, and other areas in the Visayas and Mindanao whose representatives are close to the House Speaker also received huge allocations in the 2019 budget;

9. The proposal to abolish the Road Board that controls the road user’s tax and is a huge source of kickbacks by lawmakers; Malacañang and the Senate are in favor of doing away with the Road Board due to reports of anomalies and irregularities within the agency while the Lower House, under the leadership of House Speaker Macapagal-Arroyo, passed a motion voiding a bill abolishing the Road Board that had been approved by the body earlier during former House Speaker Alvarez’s term;

10. The historical state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Philippines from 20 to 22 November 2018 during which both presidents agreed to forge a “comprehensive, strategic cooperation” between their countries; several deals were signed during the state visit, including one on cooperation in oil and gas development;

11. The decision by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to name Udenna-China Telecom as the provisional third telecommunications company in the country following the launching of the Duterte administration’s initiative to look for a third company to end the duopoly of PLDT, Inc. and Globe Telecom; Udenna is owned by Mr. Dennis Uy, a known ally of President Duterte while China Telecom is the third largest telecommunications company in China;

12. President Duterte’s approval of the recommendation of his economic managers to proceed with the implementation of the P 2 hike in fuel excise tax beginning 01 January 2019 amidst the drop in world crude prices;

13. Changes in the national administration, particularly the appointment of Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin as the country’s 25th SC Chief Justice, of Senator Gregorio Honasan as the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary, of former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Eduardo Año as the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary, of former Philippine Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Teodoro Locsin, Jr. as the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary, of Davao City Representative Karlo Nograles as Cabinet Secretary, of Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal as AFP Chief of Staff,  and of former AFP Chief of Staff Carlito Galvez, Jr. as the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process;

14. The arrest of former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo, ACT Teacher Party List Representative France Castro, and 16 others in Talaingod, Davao del Norte on 28 November 2018 for alleged human trafficking, kidnapping, and child abuse; they were freed on 01 December 2018 after posting a total bail of P 1.452 M; the former legislator said his group were in the area to bring food and other supplies to a Lumad school;

15. The announcement made by NEDA Director General Ernesto Pernia that due to high prices which led consumers to cut down on purchases of food and other essential items, the overall national economic growth during the 3rd quarter of 2018 was at 6.1%, a 3-year low; this period saw a reduction in household consumption, specifically on food that went down from 6.2% in the 2nd quarter to 2.8% in the 3rd quarter;

16. The controversial remarks made by President Duterte that Filipino Catholics should put his photo on their altars and worship him – Santo Rodrigo – instead of the Church’s saints that are drunkards, that 90% of priests are homosexuals, that all fixers in the Bureau of Customs (BOC) should be killed, that he will deploy “assassination teams” or “death squads” to kill alleged hitmen and sympathizers of the New People’s Army (ARMY), and that he takes marijuana to stay awake during strenuous activities such as the string of meetings and dialogues he needs to attend during events like the recently-concluded Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summits in Singapore and Papua New Guinea, respectively;

17. Other developments during this time include the commemoration of the 155th birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio in Caloocan City; the President’s move to revive the Reserved Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program to include not only college students but senior high school students as well; the Senate investigation into the influx of undocumented foreign workers, particularly Chinese, and the raids conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) which led to the arrest of several Chinese online gambling workers; the turnover of the Balangiga Bells from the United States (US)  to the Philippines on 12 December 2018; the issuance of a warrant of arrest against Senator Antonio Trillanes IV in connection with the libel cases filed against him by former Davao City Vice-Mayor Paolo Duterte and Atty. Manases Carpio arising from the lawmaker’s allegation that the latter were involved in the P 6.4 M shabu shipment that slipped past the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in May 2017; the decline in inflation from 6.7% in October 2018 to 6.0% in November 2018 due to decreasing average consumer prices; the P 25 increase in the minimum wage in Metro Manila effective 22 November 2018; the increase in electricity charges of Manila Electric Company (Meralco) in November and December 2018 primarily due to higher power prices for contracted supply and from independent power producers; the inclusion of Rappler Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Maria Ressa as part of “The Guardians”, a group of journalists who have been targeted because of their work, that TIME magazine recognized as its “Person of the Year”; the victory of Ms. Catriona Gray at the Ms. Universe pageant held in Thailand; the start of the Simbang Gabi marked by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle’s call for those in power not to use their position to bully others; the bullying videos involving a junior high school student from the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) that went viral and which led to calls for an investigation into the matter; and in the international arena, the return of the Democrats to the House of Representatives following the 06 November 2018 midterm elections in the United States (US) and the no-confidence vote that British Prime Minister (PM) Theresa May survived via a 200-117 party-only vote amidst increasing criticism of her Brexit deal.

As in our previous Ulat ng Bayan surveys, this nationwide survey is based on a sample of 1,800 representative adults 18 years old and above. It has a +2.3% error margin at the 95% confidence level. Subnational estimates for the geographic areas covered in the survey have the following error margins at 95% confidence level:  +6.5% for Metro Manila

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Senator Grace Poe retains her lead in the May 2019 senatorial elections; 43% of Filipino registered voters already have 12 preferred senatorial bets for the midterm elections

Out of the 70 senatorial candidates included in this pre-election survey probe, 15 have a statistical chance of winning. Virtually all of these probable winners are either incumbent or former members of Congress. Holding on to the top spot is Senator Grace Poe whose reelection to the Senate is supported by 75.6% of Filipino registered voters. In solo 2nd place is Senator Cynthia Villar with an overall voter preference of 66.6%. Sharing 3rd to 4th places are Senator Edgardo Sonny Angara (58.5%) and Taguig City Representative Pia Cayetano (55.4%). Meanwhile, former Senator Lito Lapid (49.8%), Senator Nancy Binay (46.7%), and Senator Aquilino Koko Pimentel (45.5%) find themselves in 5th to 7th places. (Please refer to Table 1.)

Completing the list of probable winners in the May 2019 senatorial elections are: (1) former Senator Serge Osmeña (38.8%, 8th to 13th places); (2) former Senator Ramon Bong Revilla, Jr. (37.6%, 8th to 14th places); (3) Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos (36.7%, 8th to 15th places); (4) former Senator Jinggoy Estrada (36.3%, 8th to 15th places); (5) former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Chief Bato dela Rosa (35.7%); (6) former Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Mar Roxas (35.0%, 8th to 15th places); (7) Senator JV Ejercito Estrada (33.6%, 9th to 16th places); and (8) Senator Benigno Bam Aquino (32.6%, 10th to 16th places). On the other hand, 2.2% of registered voters refuse to identify the senatorial bets they will vote for in May 2019, 1.6% are not inclined to support any of these candidates, and 1.1% are still unsure about whom to elect as senator.



A big plurality of registered voters (43%) already have a complete slate for the May 2019 senatorial elections (i.e., they are currently supporting 12 candidates). Across geographic areas and socio-economic classes, it is only in Mindanao where more than half of registered voters (52%) have already identified the 12 senatorial bets they will vote for in the midterm elections. In addition, Filipinos are presently naming a mean of 9 and a median of 10 senatorial candidates (i.e., out of a maximum of 12) whom they will elect in in May 2019. Mean figures range from 8 to 10 while median figures vary from 8 to 12 across the different geographic areas and socio-economic classes. (Please refer to Table 2.)