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Poe retains lead in new surveys; FilAms, global Pinoys defend her loyalty, patriotism

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By MELANDREW T. VELASCO

Special to Philippines Today

 

(Photo from Philippine Star)

 

MANILA (PhilAmPress/MTVi) ― After getting the greenlight from the Supreme Court for her candidacy, there is no turning back for independent presidential candidate Senator Grace Poe as she retained the top spot in new Pulse Asia and Social Weather Station (SWS) surveys conducted on March 1 to 6 with 28 percent.

 

Based on the survey, Poe’s numbers improved by two percent compared to the Feb. 16 to 27 survey.

 

Mayor Rodrigo Duterte dislodged Vice President Jejomar Binay for second place, earning 24 percent as against Binay’s 21 percent.


This developed as global Filipinos and Filipino Americans from various states came forward to defend the loyalty and patrionism of Senator Poe.

 

“Don’t underestimate our loyalty and love for our motherland. Are we not good enough to be trusted despite our continued sacrifice all these years to work and remit much needed dollars for the benefit of our countrymen and our beloved Philippines?” they said.


The groups defended Sen. Poe as they dismay over the continued attack of Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and other critics against the landmark majority ruling of the Supreme Court on Sen. Poe declaring her as a natural born Filipino and for having met the 10-year residency requirement to run for president.


"We laud the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno and the eight other magistrates for affirming the inherent rights of foundlings as natural born citizens and the basic rights of overseas Filipino workers and Fil-Ams as represented by Senator Grace Poe. Her victory at the Supreme Court is not only her victory but the greater winners are the Filipino people themselves to include all Fil-Ams and overseas Filipinos,” said Fil-Am lawyer Noriel Laurente, one of the key leaders of Team Grace Poe Chiz Movement (TGPCM) based in Los Angeles. 


“We look forward to seeing Grace Poe as the first FilAm to win the presidency as an affirmation of our status and role as part and parcel on the growth and rebuilding of our beloved Philippines as she will lead us to a new era of unity, peace, progress and sustainability to meet the challenges of the millennial times,” added Noriel.

 

Former Interior Secretary Manuel Mar Roxas II also improved and now statistically tied with Binay, garnering 20 percent while Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago got 3 percent, the survey showed.

 

Television giant ABS-CBN commissioned the survey conducted using face-to-face interviews with 2,600 voters.

 

Last Monday, the Social Weather Station (SWS) and Business World also released its latest survey where Poe grabbed the lead from Binay after gaining three percentage points, although with the margin of error they were statistically tied.

 

Poe got 27 percent while Binay absorbed five percent drop from 29 to 24 percent while Roxas improved from 18 to 22 percent and Duterte skidded to fourth spot with 21 percent.

 

Both Pulse Asia and SWS surveys were held before the Supreme Court ruled that Poe is qualified to run for president.


Mel Castelo, former president of Pangasinan Brotherhood and a Charter Organizer of the Advocates for a Better Philippines, lamented the double standard being shown by Carpio and supporters of other presidential candidates on the status and treatment of Grace Poe, the FilAms and OFWs:


“We are not second class citizens, much more as lesser Filipinos than the rest of our countrymen when we decide to settle overseas and work to have better life for our family. The same thing goes to Senator Grace Poe. Just like the majority of FilAms, taking the oath of allegiance in another country is required as a responsible and grateful citizen in recognition of the adopted country’s legal requirements as well as appreciation for its responsibility to protect the immigrant’s rights.”


On Grace Poe staying in the U.S., Castelo has this to say: “Just like all the rest of Fil Ams, she cooked for her family, drove her children to school and herself to work, washed clothes, cleaned the house, supported her husband in raising their children, braved winter and snow in the East Coast, sacrificed her comfort and convenience away from her parents celebrity FPJ and Susan in order to play best in her role as mother and wife. She was never a "Dona" or a "Senorita" while she stayed here.”


He also praised Grace Poe for being a responsible and good citizen with American standard work ethic which she would carry on when she becomes Philippine president: “Just like the rest of FilAms, she played by the rules and embraced the American standard and ethics of hard work, fairness, culture of excellence and equality. Living in America does not give you special treatment and privileges and Grace Poe just like many of us, lined up in groceries and malls to pay for the goodies she bought, paid her taxes dutifully, and, most importantly, just like all FilAms, she always took pride of her roots as a Filipino and showing her stuff in the various jobs she experienced while staying here.” 


According to Castelo, “to say that we have abandoned and turned our backs from our beloved motherland Pilipinas by becoming U.S. citizens not only insult our sense of patriotism but our sense of well-being as Filipinos. Majority of us became U.S. citizens so that we too can have the full benefits accorded to all who toil and are born here. By doing so, we are longer treated as second class citizens but primus interpares with anyone living in the land of milk and honey.”


The latest U.S. National Census Survey now ranked FilAms as the second ethnic group with highest income and bright future. At the core of living in America is still the economic pipeline that is brought back to the Philippine shores by FilAms through their remittances wherein about 50 percent of the annual $20-billion remittances from overseas Filipinos come from US.


“That's why we rejoiced when the Dual Citizenship Law was made a reality. It afforded us the chance to be called Filipinos again and regain our inherent right as natural born citizens,” Castelo said.


In an article titled “Are We Not Good Enough?” written by Dr. Abraham Rasul, he emphasized that majority of FilAms who assumed US citizenship and decided to stay permanently to pursue their dream and provide a better future for their children didn’t mean that they have assumed a different identity, forget altogether their heritage and pride of being Filipinos. 


“The question posed by many regarding Grace Poe’s loyalty to our native country when she became a US citizen is the same question that each and every Filipino American needs to answer. Did we really turn our backs on our native country?  The answer will be a resounding NO.


“They will even answer you with the same Filipino accent they had when they migrated to the US.
Global Filipinos continue to share the same dreams and ideals as the Filipino residing locally,” said Rasul.


According to Rasul, these Global Filipinos to include those working and residing in other countries, support the Philippine economy, promote technology exchange, advance local education, assist in conflict resolution, and promote good governance. 


“We are no different from everyone else. The things that only differentiate us are our zip codes and area codes. In fact we still maintain our accents no matter how hard we try to change them. We continue to manifest the Filipino State of Mind,” he asserted.


On the question whether local Pinoys are any better than FilAms and OFWs on the practice of good citizenship, Rasul cited Jose Rizal: “As long as a Filipino lives and demonstrates responsible and proactive citizenship embodied by our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, it does not really matter where the Filipino lives. He or she needs to be given the opportunity to serve the native country as long as pertinent laws are followed.”


To further his argument why FilAms remain Filipinos at heart and in mind, body and spirit, here are some of Rasul’s points to ponder:


a) FilAms, as well as Filipinos with dual citizenship in other countries, are asked to actively participate in all aspects of Philippine society and yet their loyalty is still in question? We can follow but not lead? 
b) They are asked to join sports teams representing the Philippines in foreign competition, regionally at the ASEAN level, or at the Olympics;
c) Distinguished educators, various professionals come back to help educate, train the youth. Majority of them do it at their own expense; and,  
d)  Self-funded medical missions come every year to help relieve the backlog of untreated medical comorbidities in poor communities and train local doctors.

 

The SWS March 2016 survey also showed Poe's running mate Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero leading the vice presidential race with 28%, followed by Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. (26%), who in recent surveys had steadily inched closer to Escudero. This means the two are statistically tied.

 

 Roxas' running mate Leni Robredo secured 24% indicating she is climbing in the polls.

 

In the February 2016 survey, Marcos had tied with Escudero for first place with each getting 26%; Robredo was just with 19%.

 

Duterte's running mate Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano got 11% in March, a 5-point decline from his February numbers; followed by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV at 6%, Sen. Gregorio Gringo Honasan at 5%, and undecided/others 1%. Trillanes' number just went up by one percentage point while Honasan's was unchanged.

 

Poe thanked the people but said the survey was not assurance to victory, vowing to work harder in the remaining 58 days of election campaign.

 

In the senatorial race, three incumbents and two comebacking senators are in the Top 5 of the race based on the BusinessWorld-SWS survey.

 

Topping the list is Sen. Vicente Sotto III (NPC) with 53%, followed by comebacking senator Panfilo Ping Lacson (IND) with 46%; Senate President Franklin Drilon (LP) with 44%; and Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto (LP) and former Senator Francis Pangilinan (LP), each with 43%.

 

The 12 leaders in the Senatorial race include five candidates from the Liberal Party (LP), four independents (IND), and one each from Akbayan (AKBYN), Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) and United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), Businessworld reported.

 

The next five names in the Circle of 12 for senators are Juan Miguel Migz Zubiri (IND) with 41%, Manny Pacquiao (UNA) 38%, Sergio Osmeña III (IND) 34%, and Richard Dick Gordon (IND) and Leila De Lima (LP), each with 32%.

 

The last two seats are being contested by Risa Hontiveros (AKBAYAN) with 30% and Teofista TG Guingona (LP) 26%. At No. 13 is Joel Tesdaman Villanueva (LP) 24%, and at No. 14, Francis Tolentino (IND) 23%. Win Gatchalian (NPC), with 21%, is on 15th slot and just outside the bounds of statistical error.

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