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Duterte, Ong, Tulfo top choices for senator in 2025 midterm polls

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Former President Rodrigo Duterte again topped a list of preferred candidates for senator in the 2025 midterm elections, according to the Pahayag 2023 second-quarter survey conducted by Publicus Asia from June 7 to 12.

Based on the “voting predisposition” of 1,500 respondents, the survey saw Duterte ranked first with 51%, followed by health expert Dr. Willie Ong and ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Erwin Tulfo, who both got 44%.

Ong was a losing vice presidential bet in the 2022 elections as the running mate of erstwhile Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso.

Former President Rodrigo Duterte

The survey results also showed that the top national issue this quarter is the need to use renewable energy, surpassing the perennial concerns on the affordability of basic commodities, wages, livelihood, sourcing more funds from the wealthy, and feeding the poorest of the poor.

Incumbent Senators Christopher Go and Imee Marcos were in third in the survey with 39%, followed by Domagoso and former Senate President Vicente Sotto III in 4th place with 36%.

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Another incumbent Senator, Ronald dela Rosa, and former senator Panfilo Lacson were tied with 35% in 5th place.

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro followed them with 31% while former Vice President Maria Leonora “Leni” Robredo got 28%.

Former presidential spokesman Harry Roque and former senator Francis Pangilinan were tied in 8th place with 25%, followed by incumbent Senator Pia Cayetano with 24%.

Former senator Manny Pacquiao and Ormoc Mayor Lucy Torres-Gomez were in the 10th spot with 22%, followed by incumbent Senator Francis Tolentino and human rights lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno, both with 21%.

Completing the Top 12 of the most preferred senators in 2025 was former senator Richard Gordon with 19%.

Publicus stated that of the 43 names in the list, “with the exception of newcomer Erwin Tulfo (coming in strongly at 2nd to 3rd spot), the top 12 contenders are old-timers in the senatorial list, while Rodrigo

Duterte is a clear and consistent frontrunner.”

The survey also showed that Duterte also topped the list of possible senatorial candidates in the Publicus first-quarter survey, followed also by Ong.

The former president also got the highest awareness and trust ratings in both first and second-quarter surveys.

The independent and non-commissioned survey had a -3 percent margin of error. About 8 in 10 of the respondents were “ages 18-49, working, Roman Catholic, and has a college education.”

The respondents were composed of residents in the National Capital Region (206), North Central Luzon (336), South Luzon (347), Visayas (291), and Mindanao (320).

The second most-approved issue was about managing the shortage of healthcare professionals through the imposition of mandatory service (skewed in NCR) and expediting nursing students to become work-ready.

The clamor to cancel the oil excise tax and instead impose a tax on Foreign Digital Services remained relatively high, Publicus said.

Modernizing the country’s naval assets, updating constitutional economic provisions, and addressing the shortage in driver’s license cards rounded up the list.

Building nuclear power plants, adjusting school curriculum for K-12, reinstating mandatory ROTC in college, passing of Gender Equality Bill, the contribution of MUPs in their retirement pension, and PBBM granting additional EDCA sites for USAF’s use in relation to potential Taiwan Strait conflict also receive approval from more than half of Filipino voters.

The least acceptable issues were the privatization of the Manila airport, the proposed maximum of 10 non-working holidays per year, changing the form of government to parliament or federal, the Maharlika Fund, mandating the wearing of face masks again plus getting two booster shots against COVID-19, an optional two more pre-college school years, and the importation of agricultural products.

“Regardless of national issues, the most pressing for President Ferdinand Marcos to focus on remains unchanged. The country’s economy is still deemed the most important for the country’s top official to

address. But the degree is only slightly above corruption, price/inflation, poverty, and jobs, as certain areas and segments tend to vary in their ranking of priorities,” the survey result stated.

For most Filipino households, their means of livelihood or lack of it is the most crucial source of worry, Publicus noted.

“Difficulty in finding work is particularly a cause for concern among the low-income households and the newly-graduate or about to graduate,” it added.

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