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Philippine elections

Rodrigo Duterte tops poll to be next Philippine vice president

Sara Duterte increases lead as preferred successor to her father in 2022

President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a ceremony to mark the 123rd anniversary of Philippine independence at the provincial capital of Bulacan province on June 12.   © AP

MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte has emerged from a poll on Tuesday as the top choice to be Philippine vice president when elections come around in May 2022, and his daughter, Sara, remains the most popular pick to be his successor as president.

Duterte came through with 18% of the poll, providing a lead that might encourage the feisty 76-year-old to push ahead with his controversial bid.

Duterte is limited to a single six-year term as president under a provision in the 1987 constitution that was put in place after the fall of President Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled the Southeast Asian nation for 20 years, latterly as a dictator.

Duterte's political backers have urged the popular president to run for the vice presidency and given him a free hand in the selection of his presidential running mate. A successful campaign would allow Duterte to continue wielding power, nominally from the country's second-highest office.

Duterte initially seemed hesitant, but in recent weeks he has expressed openness to the idea. Speaking in a televised address on Monday night, Duterte said running for vice president was "just to scare" political opponents.

Then he added: "But I say, let us see... if it is good for the country, I will do it."

"If it does not contribute anything to our republic, then no thanks, we'll just waste time and you just contribute to the conundrum of the moment," he said.

The survey, conducted by local independent pollster Pulse Asia from June 7 to 16, was based on face-to-face interviews with 2,400 adults across the country. It is the first major survey to plumb public opinion on the possibility of Duterte staying on.

In the survey for president, Duterte's eldest daughter, Sara, increased her lead by one point from a survey four months ago to 28%. Sara occupies the president's old perch as mayor of Davao City in the southern island of Mindanao.

The two have yet to decide whether to run, but many are already pointing to similarities to their gambit in Davao City in 2010. Duterte also ran for vice mayor in Davao to circumvent a rule on term limits, with Sara winning the city's mayorship.

Meanwhile, trailing Duterte in the vice presidential stakes was Manila Mayor Isko Moreno with 14%. Moreno also placed second in the presidential poll with the same score.

Third in the survey for president was former Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of the late dictator with 13%. He was followed by two other senators, Grace Poe and Manny Pacquiao, with 10% and 8%, respectively.

The president and the vice president are elected separately in Philippine elections. The winners simply have the most number of votes. Filing of candidacies for the 2022 elections is set for October.

Ella Hermonio contributed to this report.

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