February 2021 Nationwide Survey on the May 2022 Elections

Pulse Asia Research, Inc. is pleased to share with you some findings on the May 2022 Elections from the February 2021 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 February 22 – March 3, 2021 using face-to-face interviews.

The following are only some of the key national and international developments that occurred in the weeks prior to and during the conduct of the fieldwork for the present survey.

1.   By the time the last survey interviews were being done, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines hit nearly 590,000, with several cases involving variants from the United Kingdom (UK) and South Africa being recorded by the Department of Health (DOH). Amidst the increasing number of daily cases, the Duterte administration rolled out its vaccination program that gives priority to health workers following the arrival of 600,000 doses of the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines on 28 February 2021. The Chinese-developed vaccine was given an emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on 22 February 2021. The Philippines is expected to receive 44 million doses this year through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility, with 9.2 million doses being delivered in the first half of 2021. The country’s vaccination rollout began amidst reports of smuggled vaccines being given to select government officials and military personnel as early as last year.

Special Envoy for Public Diplomacy to China Ramon Tulfo revealed in his Manila Times column dated 20 February 2021 that he was injected with a smuggled Sinopharm vaccine back in October 2020. The latter also claimed that some members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) were given the same vaccine. And while the FDA issued a “compassionate use” permit for 10,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine for the PSG, this permit covers only the future use of vaccines and not the reported vaccination of some PSG personnel using smuggled vaccines back in September and October 2020;

2.   On 26 February 2021, President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed into law the bill giving indemnity to vaccine makers should their vaccines cause serious adverse side effects to recipients. The law calls for the creation of an indemnity fund totaling P 500 M that would cover compensation for such events. Due to the absence of an indemnification program, the delivery of 117,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines that were originally scheduled in mid-February 2021 did not push through. In another move aimed at securing more vaccine doses for the country, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said it is considering exempting Germany and the United Kingdom (UK) from the 5,000-person limit on the number of healthcare personnel allowed to work abroad annually. This will be done in exchange for 600,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines. The proposal was criticized by several senators who described it as a desperate move on the part of the administration. Meanwhile, the British Ambassador to the Philippines clarified that while the UK has no plans to enter into such an agreement with the country, it has agreed to share its excess vaccine doses to countries in need;

3.   The President rejected the proposals of the Department of Education (DepEd) for the resumption of face-to-face classes and of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to shift the quarantine status of Metro Manila from General Community Quarantine (GCQ) to modified GCQ. The President explained that without vaccines, it would not be safe to shift to a modified GCQ status that would, among other things, allow the conduct of face-to-face classes as well as the opening up of other segments of the economy. Still, President Duterte said he is optimistic that regular classes could resume in low-risk areas by August 2021;

4.   A resolution issued by the IATF on 26 February 2021 approved the uniform travel protocols for land, air, and sea travel crafted by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). Under the new guidelines, quarantine, travel authority, health certificate, and testing are no longer required. However, should a local government unit (LGU) require testing, this would be limited only to a Reverse transcription-polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test. The Department of Tourism (DOT) is hopeful that the easing of travel restrictions throughout the country will boost local tourism that has been adversely affected by the pandemic. For her part, Vice-President Maria Leonor G. Robredo said while she supports the standardization of travel requirements nationwide, she expressed concern that the removal of a mandatory RT-PCR test prior to traveling might result in a spike in COVID-19 cases across the country;

5.   During a press briefing on 16 February 2021, Supreme Court (SC) Spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka announced that the SC, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), has unanimously dismissed the electoral protest filed by former Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. on 29 June 2016 after he lost the May 2016 vice-presidential race to Vice-President Robredo. At the same time that the PET dismissed the electoral protest of former Senator Marcos for lack of merit, it also dismissed the counterprotest filed by the camp of Vice-President Robredo. While the latter welcomed the decision as she said the dismissal of the electoral protest would now allow her to focus on the important task of helping the Filipino people, a lawyer of ex-Senator Marcos raised the possibility of filing a motion for reconsideration before the PET;

6.   In a resolution approved on 10 February 2021, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) declared that the period for the filing of certificates of candidacy for the 09 May 2022 elections would be from 01 to 08 October 2021. Those running for president, vice-president, senator, and party-list representative are allowed to campaign from 08 February to 07 May 2022 while the campaign period for those seeking a congressional seat at the House of Representative as well as those running for regional, provincial, city, and municipal positions will be from 25 March to 07 May 2022. With the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, COMELEC Spokesperson James Jimenez said there will certainly be changes in the way electoral campaigns will be conducted in the country. The COMELEC will be coordinating with the IATF as regards this matter. Meanwhile, the COMELEC said new voters will now be able to register five (5) days a week, Tuesday to Saturday, beginning 15 February 2021 up to 30 September 2021;

7.   The Bicameral Conference Committee of the Senate and the House of Representatives approved the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act on 03 February 2021. This piece of legislation seeks not only to cut corporate taxes from 30% to 25% for large corporations and 20% for smaller entities but also to modernize the country’s corporate incentives system. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) expects the CREATE Act, once signed by the President, to generate investments of at least P 200 B that will, in turn, create around two (2) million jobs;

8.   Malacañang announced on 15 February 2021 that the United States (US) should pay the Philippines in order for the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the two (2) countries to continue. According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, the Philippines should receive around US$ 16 B, the amount received by Pakistan in the form of counterterrorism assistance from the US from 2001 to 2017. During the same period, the Philippines obtained only US$ 3.9B from the US. It may be recalled that President Duterte ended the VFA on 11 February 2020, with the termination taking effect after 180 days. However, on 02 June 2020, the termination was suspended upon the President’s order due to “political and other developments” in the country and in the Southeast Asian region. The deferment of the termination was extended in November 2020. The President said he would like to hear from the general public regarding the abrogation of the VFA before he makes his final decision on the matter but once he has hard evidence that the US has been storing nuclear weapons in the country, he will not hesitate to terminate the VFA immediately.

9.   The Defense Committee of the Senate released a report dated 22 February 2021 regarding its investigation into the controversial statements made by Southern Luzon Command Chief and National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) Spokesperson Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Jr. tagging journalists, students, politicians, celebrities, activists, and critics of President Duterte as sympathizers or even members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and other leftist organizations. The committee found the remarks of Lt. Gen. Parlade as damaging to the organizational integrity the NTF-ELCAC and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). The AFP said it will conduct an investigation into the matter after Lt. Gen. Parlade’s recent red-tagging of a newspaper reporter but pointed out that it is incumbent upon the latter to disprove the military official’s claim that the reporter is a communist propagandist.

10. The Manila Electric Company (Meralco) announced a cut in its power rates for February 2021 due primarily to a drop in its generation charges arising from lower fixed charges from its power supply agreements. Additionally, the latter is set to issue a refund of P 13.89 B to its customers in the next two (2) years and this will be reflected in lower power rates from March 2021 onwards. On the other hand, oil prices went up during this period, with year-to-date adjustments as of 02 March 2021 showing an increase of P 6.20/liter for gasoline, P 5.70/liter for diesel, and P 5.05/liter for kerosene, according to the Department of Energy (DOE). Consumers in Metro Manila have had to deal with higher prices of pork and chicken as well. As a result, President Duterte issued Executive Order (EO) No. 124 that puts in place a 60-day price ceiling on pork and chicken beginning 08 February 2021. With the price of pork surging beyond P 400/kilo in January 2021, the EO mandates the selling of pork products at P 270 to P 300/kilo and of chicken products at P 160/kilo. At the same time, the President ordered the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to work together with law enforcement agencies to run after smugglers, profiteers, and hoarders who are driving up the prices of basic food commodities.

11. In international news, former US President Donald J. Trump was acquitted during his second impeachment trial on the charge of incitement of insurrection arising from the riot at the Capitol that occurred on 06 January 2021. With only 57 senators pronouncing former President Trump as guilty, the Senate fell short by 10 votes of the two-thirds majority required to convict him. Meanwhile, in Myanmar, a coup d’état was launched by the country’s military on 01 February 2021 as it ousted and detained members of the ruling party who were elected by the people in November 2020. Subsequently, the military declared a year-long state of emergency, with power being bested in the Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services.

This nationwide survey is based on a sample of 2,400 representative adults 18 years old and above. It has a ± 2% error margin at the 95% confidence level.  Subnational estimates for each of the geographic areas covered in the survey (i.e., Metro Manila, the rest of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao) have a ± 4% error margin, also at 95% confidence level. Those interested in further technical details may refer to our website (www.pulseasia.ph)

Pulse Asia Research’s pool of academic fellows takes full responsibility for the design and conduct of the survey, as well as for analyses it makes based on the survey data. In keeping with our academic nature, no religious, political, economic, or partisan group influenced any of these processes.  Pulse Asia Research undertakes Ulat ng Bayan surveys on its own without any party singularly commissioning the research effort. For any clarification or questions, kindly contact Ana Maria Tabunda, Research Director of Pulse Asia Research at 09189436816 or Ronald D. Holmes, Pulse Asia Research President via Viber or Telegram at +639189335497 or at ronald.holmes@gmail.com (via email).

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte (27%) leads a field of 13 probable presidential candidates in the February 2021 Ulat ng Bayan nationwide survey

If the May 2022 elections were held during the survey period (i.e., 22 February to 03 March 2021), Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte would be declared as the winner in the presidential race with a national voter preference of 27%. Second place is shared by four (4) personalities who enjoy virtually the same levels of electoral support – former Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. (13%), Senator Grace Poe (12%), Manila Mayor Francisco Domagoso (12%), and Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao (11%). (Please refer to Table 1.)

The other individuals included in this electoral probe obtain voter preferences of at most 7%. They are Vice-President Maria Leonor G. Robredo (7%), Senator Christopher Go (5%), former Vice-President Jejomar Binay (3%), Senator Panfilo Lacson (2%), Taguig City-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano (2%), Senator Richard Gordon (1%), former Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro (0.3%), and former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio (0.2%). The rest of Filipino adults refuse to identify their preferred presidential candidate for the coming national polls (2%), are ambivalent on the matter (1%), or do not support any probable candidate for president (1%).

Across geographic areas, it is only in Mindanao where a clear choice for president emerges as 60% of its adult residents express support for Davao City Mayor Duterte. In Metro Manila, the leading candidates are Manila Mayor Domagoso (24%) and ex-Senator Marcos (18%). Those in the rest of Luzon are most inclined to vote for former Senator Marcos (19%), Davao City Mayor Duterte (17%), Senator Poe (15%), or Manila Mayor Domagoso (13%). Among Visayans, Davao City Mayor Duterte (21%), Senator Pacquiao (15%), and Senator Poe (14%) receive the most support.

Small pluralities in Classes D and E (26% and 29%, respectively) favor Davao City Mayor Duterte over the other probable presidential bets. However, in Class ABC, three (3) individuals record essentially the same voter preferences – Davao City Mayor Duterte (28%), former Senator Marcos (20%), and Senator Poe (16%).

The May 2022 vice-presidential race is a close one involving Manila Mayor Francisco Domagoso (16%), Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao (15%), and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte (15%)

Out of 12 possible candidates for vice-president in the May 2022 elections, Manila Mayor Domagoso (16%), Senator Pacquiao (15%), and Davao City Mayor Duterte (15%) are statistically tied for the top spot as of February 2021. Behind them in second place are Senate President Vicente Sotto III (11%), ex-Senator Marcos (11%), Senator Go (9%), Taguig City-Pateros Representative Cayetano (7%), and Sorsogon Governor Francis Escudero (7%). The lowest levels of support are posted by Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar (3%), Senator Juan Edgardo Angara (3%), Atty. Jose Manuel Diokno (1%), and former Defense Secretary Teodoro (0.5%). (Please refer to Table 2.)

In addition, the rest of the country’s adult population refuse to name their choice for vice-president (2%), still do not know whom they would elect as the next vice-president (1%), or are not inclined to support any individual in the next vice-presidential election (1%).

Public opinion is mixed across geographic areas and socio-economic classes. Metro Manilans are most supportive of the probable vice-presidential bids of Manila Mayor Domagoso (24%) and former Senator Marcos (16%). In the rest of Luzon, seven (7) personalities share the top spot as they register basically the same voter preferences – Manila Mayor Domagoso (16%), ex-Senator Marcos (13%), Senator Pacquiao (12%), Davao City Mayor Duterte (12%), Senate President Sotto (12%), Sorsogon Governor Escudero (9%), and Taguig City-Pateros Representative Cayetano (8%). In the Visayas, the leading personalities are Manila Mayor Domagoso (19%), Davao City Mayor Duterte (16%), Senator Pacquiao (15%), and Senate President Sotto (13%). Among Mindanawons, Senator Pacquiao (25%) and Davao City Mayor Duterte (23%) have the highest voter preferences.

Those in Class ABC are most inclined to elect any of the following as the next Philippine vice-president – Davao City Mayor Duterte (21%), Manila Mayor Domagoso (15%), former Senator Marcos (14%), Senator Pacquiao (12%), Senate President Sotto (10%), and Sorsogon Governor Escudero (8%). In Class D, practically the same voter preferences are registered by Manila Mayor Domagoso (16%), Senator Pacquiao (16%), Davao City Mayor Duterte (14%), and ex-Senator Marcos (11%). And in Class E, the highest figures are obtained by Senator Pacquiao (17%), Davao City Mayor Duterte (15%), Senate President Sotto (15%), Manila Mayor Domagoso (14%), Taguig City-Pateros Representative Cayetano (10%), Senator Go (8%), and Sorsogon Governor Escudero (8%).

A sizeable majority of Filipino adults (62%) already have a complete slate for the May 2022 senatorial election; Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao enjoys the top spot (58.9%)

With more than a year to go before the May 2022 elections, 62% of Filipino adults are already identifying 12 preferred candidates for senator (out of a maximum of 12). Majority figures are recorded in nearly all geographic areas and every socio-economic class (68% to 86% and 54% to 76%, respectively), with the rest of Luzon being the exception (45%). Additionally, Filipino adults are naming a mean of 10 and a median of 12 of their choices for senator. Across areas and classes, mean figures range from 9 to 12 while median figures vary from 10 to 12. (Please refer to Table 3.)

Of the 57 individuals whose senatorial chances are probed in this survey, 15 would have a statistical chance of winning if the May 2022 elections coincided with the conduct of survey interviews. Most of the probable winners are either current or former members of Congress. Leading the field of possible senatorial candidates is Senator Pacquiao who has the support of 58.9% of Filipino adults. This translates to a statistical ranking of solo 1st place. The latter is followed by Manila Mayor Domagoso, whose voter preference of 53.0% puts him in solo 2nd place. Sharing 3rd to 7th places are Mr. Raffy Tulfo (48.1%), Davao City Mayor Duterte (47.5%), Sorsogon Governor Escudero (46.6%), and Antique Representative Loren Legarda (46.2%). Meanwhile, Taguig City-Pateros Representative Cayetano finds himself in 3rd to 8th places, with a voter preference of 44.4%. (Please refer to Table 4.)

The bottom half of the list of probable winners includes former Senator Marcos (40.7%, 7th to 10th places), Senator Lacson (38.1%, 8th to 11th places), Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri (38.1%, 8th to 11th places), Mr. Willie Revillame (34.3%, 9th to 11th places), former Senator Jinggoy Estrada (30.1%, 12th to 15th places), Senator Sherwin Gatchalian (28.1%, 12th to 16th places), former Vice-President Binay (27.1%, 12th to 17th places), and Senator Francis Pangilinan (26.9%, 12th to 17th places). On the other hand, 1.9% of Filipino adults refuse to name their senatorial choices for the May 2022 elections, 1.2% do not have any preferred candidates for senator as of February 2021, and 0.9% express indecision on the matter of whom to elect to the Senate in the coming national elections.