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It came as a surprise when administration bet Manuel “Mar” Roxas II called for unity with independent candidate Sen. Grace Poe in a flash press conference on Friday (May 6).
The reason was to stop the seemingly inevitable ascension of presidential survey frontrunner Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to the country's top post.
Poe, however, snubbed the Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer's request by saying there was nothing for them to talk about at this time, and there was no reason for her to throw in the towel.
For some political analysts, though, it should be the other way around: Roxas should give way to Poe who has a better shot at beating the incumbent Davao City Mayor.
“Yes, Mar should withdraw in favor of Poe, because Mar is way behind,” said University of the Philippines (UP) political science professor Roland Simbulan.
“If you look at the numbers, if you will break it down into regions, into island groupings, Sen. Grace Poe continues to be the only possible candidate who can beat Duterte,” political analyst Dindo Manhit told in an interview with CNN Philippines on Friday.
Manhit, also the managing director of policy research group STRATBASE, added Poe continues to be strong in Luzon — which composes 56 percent of the total voting population.
The latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey conducted last May 1 to 3 showed Roxas closely trailing Poe by two percentage points with 20 and 22 percent respectively.
Even positioned at second place, however, Poe's rating was still far from Duterte's commanding 33 percent.
Another survey by Pulse Asia made last April 26 to 29, meanwhile, showed a statistical tie between Roxas and Poe with 22 and 21 percent respectively.
Duterte, who promised radical changes under his leadership, was also leading in the said survey with 33 percent.
Poe is ‘second best choice'
The said survey also showed that if Roxas were to back out, 41 percent of his voters would pick Poe and 16 percent would go to Duterte.
If Poe withdraws, however, only 26 percent would go to Roxas and a close 23 percent would choose Duterte.
“Poe tops as second choice for all voters who have other original choices,” said Ramon Casiple, also a political science professor at UP Diliman.
Casiple, also the executive director of Institute For Political and Electoral Reform, said a Roxas withdrawal from the race will bolster Poe's chances of beating Duterte.
“There's a good chance,” Casiple added.
For Prof. Temario Rivera, former UP Diliman political science department chairperson, Poe made a good move by not backing out from the race.
“Poe's response was correct. It would be political suicide for her if she withdraws,” Rivera explained.
Rivera said the senator stands on stronger political ground if she argues that it should be Roxas who should withdraw.
No assurance of beating Duterte
For University of Santo Tomas Political Science Department Chair Dennis Coronacion, however, there is no assurance that Duterte could be beaten if Roxas' supporters would vote for Poe.
Coronacion explained that Duterte could still snatch voter support from other candidates such as Vice President Jejomar Binay and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
“It's not as easy as you think. If I'm not mistaken, those who chose Binay also chose Duterte as their second choice,” said Coronacion.
Moreover, Coronacion added Roxas' call for unity with Poe is only his last-ditch effort to win the race.
“That's a desperate attempt on the part of Mar Roxas to win,” added Coronacion.
President Benigno Aquino III told CNN Philippines on Friday that he is seeking an alliance between the four other presidential candidates to unite against Duterte.
Aquino said it would make sense that the four candidates account for the remaining 70 percent to defeat the Davao City mayor.
Source Credit: CNN Philippines