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Tough-talking mayor keeps poll lead a week before Philippine elections

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A tough-talking mayor running for the presidency of the Philippines has kept his double-digit lead five days before elections, despite allegations he had undeclared millions of pesos in a bank, the latest opinion poll has showed.

[MANILA] A tough-talking mayor running for the presidency of the Philippines has kept his double-digit lead five days before elections, despite allegations he had undeclared millions of pesos in a bank, the latest opinion poll has showed.

Rodrigo Duterte was the number one choice among 33 per cent of Filipinos in the Pulse Asia survey done on April 26-29, the same numbers from a similar survey among 4,000 respondents a week earlier, the poll released late on Tuesday showed.

Manuel Roxas, President Benigno Aquino's hand-picked successor, moved up a spot into second place for the first time since June 2015 after rising 2 points to 22 per cent support.

Senator Grace Poe, the adopted daughter of movie stars, fell back to third after dropping a point to 21 per cent.

Vice President Jejomar Binay was in fourth place with 17 per cent after losing a point, while support for Senator Miriam Santiago was unchanged at 2 per cent. "The survey did not reflect significant changes," Pulse Asia president Professor Ronald Holmes said.

Political analysts said Mr Duterte had struck a chord with most Filipinos who were frustrated and disappointed with the government's inability to address mass transport and traffic problems in the capital, Manila.

His strong anti-crime platform also resonated among voters across all economic classes and in all geographical regions.

However, Mr Holmes noted a dip in Mr Duterte's support in Manila over allegations he had not declared 211 million pesos (S$6.07 million) in his bank account.

The allegations about the undeclared money were made last week by Senator Antonio Trillanes, a candidate for vice president. Peter Lavina, a spokesman for Mr Duterte, said the allegations were "nothing but a publicity stunt".

The poll follows a tricky week for Mr Duterte, who has also been trying to manage the fallout from controversial remarks he made at a campaign rally about an Australian missionary murdered and raped during a 1989 prison riot.

About 54 million Filipinos, including overseas workers, are eligible to vote in Monday's elections.

REUTERS