Villar narrows gap in new SWS poll
By Christina Mendez
The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines – Nacionalista Party (NP) presidential bet Sen. Manuel “Manny” Villar Jr. expressed optimism that he could overtake his main rival, Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III on election day.
Villar took the cue from the latest results of surveys showing him gaining a four-point increase.
In the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey commissioned by San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora, a known Villar ally, it showed Aquino’s rating remained static at 37 percent, which was basically the same as in the March 19-22 SWS survey.
But Villar closed in at second place with 29 percent, posting an increase of one percentage point from the SWS survey.
Former President Joseph Estrada came in third with 17 percent, two points lower than the previous survey. Administration candidate Gilberto Teodoro was fourth with eight percent, gaining two percentage points.
The Zamora-commissioned SWS survey was conducted March 28-30, after the survey of Pulse Asia conducted on March 21-28.
In the Pulse Asia survey, Villar gained significant increase in ratings.
The NP pointed the increase in both survey ratings posted an average of four percentage points.
Villar was able to close the Pulse Asia gap of 12 points to just eight points trailing Aquino in the latest SWS results.
The SWS and Pulse Asia surveys were conducted less than a week apart last March.
NP senatorial candidate and party spokesman Gilbert Remulla said the SWS results showed Villar immediately recovering less than a week after a similar presidential survey of the Pulse Asia survey showed him trailing the frontrunner with 25 percent.
“That’s a leap of four points (25 percent Pulse Asia to 29 percent SWS), immediately after the field personnel of the other survey firm were just wrapping up their own results,” Remulla explained.
Remulla said the improvement in Villar’s ratings only confirmed the observation of some political analysts that the NP presidential bet is poised to stage a strong comeback to close the gap with Aquino.
Remulla said Villar would normally increase his ratings after the adverse propaganda coming from critics and rivals dies down.
Remulla said Aquino’s ratings would plateau off and his lead would likely recede until May 10, compared from the more than 50 percent lead shortly after announcing his candidacy.
“If you noticed, Noynoy’s ratings have been going down at a rate of six to eight percent a month (from 50 percent last year), so it’s possible that he will lose the same (as the election draws near),” he said.
Villar, for his part, said the surveys would not be the ultimate issue that will determine the victory for the candidate.
He said there are other factors that must be considered.
“Different factors will determine one’s victory in the end. Apart from the surveys, you have to consider the support of local executives and the last minute decision of the voters,” he said.
Political observers noted that the NP presidential candidate essentially did not leave the front-runners’ row after peaking to 35 percent in the SWS Jan. 10 poll and losing seven percentage points in the March 19-22 survey with 28 percent.
Villar though staged a modest but significant comeback in the latest SWS survey from his 28 percent in mid-March amid allegations linking him as the secret candidate of President Arroyo.
Tracking his survey ratings since December, Villar practically did not lose support from his voters and even gained two percentage points from 27 percent in the Dec. 5-10 survey to his latest 29 percent, the NP said.
The NP claimed Aquino may have retained his frontrunner status by rating 37 percent in the latest SWS survey, after coming close to Villar in the Feb. 10 survey, but has been losing base support since December last year.
Aquino was rating 46 percent in the Dec. 5-10 survey but never recovered after losing nine percentage points to 37 percent in the latest March SWS survey.