IBTimes UK

Philippines presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte has surged ahead of his rivals in opinion polls with just days left for the election on May 9.

As per the latest opinion survey, Duterte has taken a clear lead over nearest rival Senator Grace Poe.

The tough-talking, unorthodox candidate, who pitches himself as an outsider, now enjoys 32 percent support among potential voters whereas Poe is at the second place with 25 percent support.

The survey, which took the opinion of 3,000 voters between April 27 to May 1, showed Duterte's lead has increased by two percentage points from 30 percent in the previous survey. However, Poe's support declined two percentage points from 27 percent earlier.

The final Standard Poll has clearly showed that the controversies surrounding Duterte's statements, including those on the Pope and the rape of an Australian missionary, have not dented his support among the people.

Administration standard-bearer Mar Roxas was at the third spot with 22 percent support but experts say he's statistically tied with Poe at the second spot as there is a near 2 percent margin of error.

While the election still remained a tight three-way race, the support for vice-president Jejomar Binay has declined, the survey showed. Binay's support dwindled from 18 percent in the previous survey to 15 percent currently.

Though Duterte continued to command popular support across the country, the southern leader has also come in for stringent criticism from his opponents. There are concerns that Duterte's freewheeling style and lack of respect for the establishment would herald an era of political inconsistency.

Some have even expressed fears that some of Duterte's professed policies, including those on the fate of Congress, mean the country faces risk of a dictatorship.

Former military commanders have made it clear that the military will not hesitate to get involved if a potential Duterte presidency goes ahead with the plans to change the constitution.

However, Duterte has chiseled himself up into a massively popular figure who promises quick fixes to serious issues such as poverty, corruption and crime.

His outspoken promise of crushing criminals with an iron has won him the support of the rich and middle classes, even in the capital region.

IBTimes UK