Philippine poll shows Marcos Jr's lead widening in presidential race

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Former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr and son of late former dictator Ferdinand Marcos is greeted by his supporters upon his arrival at the Supreme Court in metro Manila, Philippines April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

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MANILA, Feb 13 (Reuters) - The son and namesake of late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos strengthened his lead over his closest rival ahead of the presidential election in May, results of a new poll released on Sunday showed.

Ferdinand Marcos Jr garnered a 44-point lead over Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo in the Jan. 19-24 survey by independent pollster Pulse Asia, an 11-point increase compared with the previous poll in early December.

A total of 2,400 respondents were asked to pick their first choice for president and vice president if the election were held during the survey period, with 60% expressing preference for Marcos, while 16% chose Robredo.

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In the December poll with the same sample size, Marcos was on top with 53% compared to Robredo's 20%.

Boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao and Manila city mayor Francisco Domagoso trailed, each getting 8%, while Senator Panfilo Lacson took 4%.

In the Philippines, the president and vice president are elected separately.

Marcos' running mate, Sara Duterte-Carpio, the daughter of incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte, remained the top choice for vice president, taking a 21-point lead over her closest rival, Senate President Vicente Sotto.

The latest Pulse Asia survey was conducted before the Philippines' Commission on Elections last week dismissed a series of complaints seeking to disqualify Marcos, removing a major hurdle for him in the May 9 contest.

The complaint's petitioners have vowed to challenge the decision and can appeal to the Supreme Court.

The election body also rejected a complaint seeking the cancellation of Marcos' certificate of candidacy.

As frontrunner, Marcos appears poised to complete a remarkable rebranding of the family name 36 years after a "people power" uprising ended his father's autocratic rule.

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Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz; Editing by Edmund Klamann

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