Poe camp on Duterte's rise in surveys: No need to hit panic button

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The spokesman of independent presidential candidate Grace Poe said there's no reason to be alarmed over the soaring numbers in recent surveys of her new closest rival, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

"Hindi naman tayo magpapanic dahil lang sa ganitong survey. Kundi araw-araw ang batayan natin yung mga supporter natin na nagbibigay sa atin ng mga observations and recommendations," Valenzuela Mayor and Poe spokesman Rex Gatchalian says.

[Translation: There's no reason for us to panic just because of these survey (results). Our daily gauge is based on the observations and recommendations our supporters give us.]

Poe and Duterte are statistically tied in the Pulse Asia pre-election survey, commissioned by ABS-CBN, and conducted from March 8 to 13.

Also read: Pulse Asia: Poe, Duterte statistically tied as top choice for president

Poe and Duterte gained 26 and 25 percent, respectively, in the nationwide poll which has a error margin of ± 1.5 percent.

Duterte has consistently increased his numbers in Pulse Asia's past three pre-election surveys.

Previously, he gained 22 percent (February 16-27) and 24 percent (March 1-6).

There has been no significant change in Poe's figures: 26 percent (February 16-27) and 28 percent (March 1-6).

"Hindi ko naman sinasabing panic button, but everyday is a time for us to recalibrate our moves based on what we hear from the ground," Gatchalian adds.

The Poe campaign spent much of its time turning around negative publicity and confusion over her status as a candidate, after a slew of disqualification cases were filed against her.

"'Yung strategy namin was to explain na kandidato pa rin sya, at the same time, yung plataporma nya," Gatchalian explains, "'Yung giving more emphasis ano ba yung 'Gobyernong may Puso' [compassionate governance]."

[Translation: Our strategy was to explain she remains to be a candidate, at the same time, her platforms... giving more emphasis on what is compassionate governance.]

Asked whether Duterte's standings could prompt changes in Poe's campaign, Gatchalian said they will continue to talk to "different sectors" on the "inputs they can contribute" to the team.

Except for the sorties in Parañaque and Pasay last Monday (March 20), Poe is taking the rest of the Holy Week off from the campaign trail.

Unlike most of her rivals who continued campaigning until Wednesday, Poe held "administrative meetings" on Tuesday.

"Hindi lang puro kampanya. May backend (yung campaign team), updating lang," Gatchalian points out for the need to do the meetings.

Poe earlier said in Cebu that she will look forward to doing the traditional Visita Iglesia as part of her Holy Week plans.

Gatchalian added that the Easter holidays will also give Poe the chance to spend time with her family, following weeks on the road for the grueling campaign.