Tough-talking Philippine mayor early favourite for president

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Manila (dpa) – A crime-fighting, tough-talking mayor in the southern Philippines topped the latest opinion poll for candidates in the May presidential election, a private polling firm said Monday.

Rodrigo Duterte, mayor of the southern city of Davao, was the first preference for 38 per cent of 1,200 respondents, who chose him over four other candidates, the Social Weather Stations said.

The survey was conducted in the final week of November, when Duterte joined the presidential race as a substitute for another politician.

But it was held before the 70-year-old mayor was reported to have cursed Pope Francis for traffic jams and road closures he caused during the last papal visit to Manila.

Duterte has since apologized for the slur, and stressed that he was merely expressing public exasperation over the situation rather than attacking the pope.

Senator Grace Poe, a freshman senator and adopted daughter of a late popular action movie star, slumped to second place with 21 per cent, the survey showed.

She is tied with Vice President Jejomar Binay, while the current ruling party’s candidate former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas received 15 per cent, followed by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago with 4 per cent.

The survey said 1 per cent of the respondents were undecided.

The Philippines will hold its presidential and national elections on May 9, 2016.

More than 18,000 positions are up for grabs, including president, vice president, senators, congressional representatives, provincial governors, city and town mayors and vice mayors.

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