2024 may be the world’s biggest-ever election year, but in the Philippines, voters are already looking ahead to 2028.
While current President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., elected in mid-2022, hasn’t even reached his second year in office yet, the country’s constitution currently permits only a single presidential term of six years, opening up early speculation about whom his successor may be.
And based on a new poll, provided to TIME on Thursday, by local public opinion firm WR Numero Research, Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte-Carpio, the daughter of former President Rodrigo Duterte, appears to command a significant lead.
Almost 36% of respondents to a survey of Filipino adults in December said they would vote for Duterte-Carpio if elections were held now. This follows a privately commissioned poll conducted by statistics firm Social Weather Stations last July that also showed her as the most-preferred candidate.
Trailing behind Duterte-Carpio in both polls is Senator Raffy Tulfo, a tough-talking former broadcaster and social media darling who has carved out a niche for himself with his public service programs, followed by former Vice President and leading opposition figure Leni Robredo. Tulfo was chosen by 23% of the respondents and Robredo by 9% in the latest survey.
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Duterte-Carpio, now 45, had already been leading presidential surveys in 2022 but surprised observers when instead she chose to be Marcos Jr.’s running mate—creating an election powerhouse that practically shot down any chance by the opposition to win.
In the Philippines, the President and Vice President are elected separately. Duterte-Carpio won the vice presidency in 2022 with 32.21 million votes or 61.5% of the votes cast—more than Marcos Jr., who won the presidency with 31.62 million votes or 58.7% of the total votes cast at the same time. Of the country’s four highest-ranking officials, including Senate President and House Speaker—Duterte-Carpio also currently has the highest approval ratings.
Both Marcos Jr. and Duterte-Carpio have struggled to address the mass killings that happened under the leaderships of their fathers. Rodrigo Duterte was the architect of a nationwide drug war that killed tens of thousands, while the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. oversaw a period of corruption and human rights abuses from 1965 to 1986. Yet the two former leaders’ children enjoy massive domestic popularity, in part due to pervasive disinformation campaigns as well as the undying influence of political dynasties in the Southeast Asian country.
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