Erap, not C-5, caused Villar’s survey drop

Erap, not C-5, caused Villar’s survey drop
By Carmela Fonbuena, Purple Romero, and Ma. Althea Teves

MANILA, Philippines – It was the rise of former President Joseph Estrada in Mindanao—not the corruption allegations in the C-5 road project—that cost Nacionalista Party’s Manuel Villar Jr. 4 to 8 points in the latest Pulse Asia survey.

Newsbreak’s analysis of the survey numbers showed that the C-5 controversy cannot have caused Villar’s dive because his numbers dropped only in Mindanao and were steady everywhere else.

Whatever little negative effect the road project controversy had was cushioned by Villar’s very effective political advertisements. The analysts and specialists that we interviewed supported our analysis.

The new survey shows that voters’ preference for Villar dropped from 35 points in January to 29 points in February. Liberal Party’s Benigno Aquino III regained the top spot by keeping his number at 36 points, a decrease of 1 point from January.

On the other hand, Estrada’s numbers increased to 18 in February, from 12 in January.

With an estimated 50 million voters this year, 1 statistical point is equivalent to 500,000 voters. It means Villar lost from 2 million to 4 million voters.








37 36 38 40 37 33 41 39 33 38


35 29 24 24 36 31 38 38 36 19


12 18 14 17 9 16 6 8 22 31

Mindanao surprise

The breakdown of survey results shows that, statistically, Villar’s numbers were steady in the National Capital Region (24 points) and the Visayas (38 points). His 5-point drop in Luzon is statistically insignificant, given the survey’s 4% margin of error in the island.

“The effect of C-5 [on NCR] may have already been reflected in our January result, since they (NCR voters) are first to get wind of any developments,” Pulse Asia executive director Ana Tabunda told Newsbreak when asked if it’s possible that the C-5 controversy had no impact on Villar’s numbers.

The C-5 controversy should have had the strongest impact on the NCR voters, who are the biggest media consumers.

Tabunda said further study of the numbers in Luzon and Visayas will be needed to explain Villar’s steady numbers.

Villar suffered the big plunge in Mindanao, where he dropped 17 points—from 36 points in January to 19 points in February. Mindanao represent a fourth of the country’s voters.)

On the other hand, Estrada gained 9 points in Mindanao, from 22 points in January to 31 points in February. (Aquino also increased by 5 points, but it’s evened out because of the 5% error margin in the island.)

“Erap regained his Mindanao votes, cutting the Mindanao support for Villar,” said Tabunda. She said Estrada was able to do this “through ads and barnstorming.”

‘Erap country’

Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who is vice president for Mindanao of Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), said that the survey is a result of the Supreme Court’s decision in January 2010 to junk the disqualification case against the former president. Rodriguez said the January survey didn’t capture this because Estrada’s political advertisements informing voters of the legal victory only came out in February.

“That is what happens when people know that Erap is going to run. They’ve come back to him. Now, he has clearly shown that he will push through with his candidacy. Walang atrasan,” Rodriguez told Newsbreak.

“Mindanao is traditionally an Erap country. In the 2001, Mindanao did not support the EDSA people power [that ousted Estrada],” Rodriguez added.

In 1998, when Estrada first run for president, he won in all regions in Mindanao.

According to PMP spokesperson Ralph Calinisan, the increase in Estrada’s ratings “comes as a no surprise,” as Estrada had fared well before in the region.

Estrada’s campaign manager, Ernesto Maceda, credits Estrada’s rise to heightened on-the-ground campaigning. Since the campaign started, Estrada had been to Mindanao only once, in Davao City.

Peace and order ads

Tabunda said that it is Estrada’s political ads on Mindanao also helped. “Watch his ads, when it comes out [on television]. He targeted an audience,” she said.

Estrada has come up with a slew of ads since the campaign period began. These ads focused on the following: stabilizing the peace and order situation in Mindanao, strengthening the agricultural sector, and cleansing the government of corruption.

Media strategists working for various candidates attributed Villar’s steady numbers in NCR, Luzon, and the Visayas to Villar’s ads.

While there were a lot of negative news against Villar because of the Senate’s debates over the C-5 controversy, they said his camp was able to match them with ads that tried to belie the allegations of corruption.

According to the January 2010 Social Weather Stations survey commissioned by the Manila Standard, news and advertisements are the biggest factors influencing Filipino voters’ preferences—49% and 45% respectively.

Two ads that kept running during the period was the testimonial of comedy king Dolphy that Villar has not put one over on anybody, and Villar’s 30-seconder where he says he’s not seeking the presidency to get richer.

“Marami pa ring naninira sa kanya. Sa pagkakakilala ko kay Manuel Villar, siya’y taong may integridad, may malasakit sa kapwa, totoong tao,” Dolphy said in the ad.

After the actor’s ad, Villar came out, pointing out that wanting to be president is part of his lifetime “panata” or vow to help those who have nothing in life. “Kung talagang gusto ko yumaman, babalik na lang ako sa pagka-negosyante.” (Newsbreak)

Karen Ang

A plebeian who is trying to make small changes in this world.

  • me and my family even my thousand of friends we wll vote joseph estrada pa rin…..