Why Villar ratings fell: He’s been on defensive

Why Villar ratings fell: He’s been on defensive
By Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The adverse publicity hounding Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Manuel “Manny” Villar has taken a toll on his campaign and it will be difficult for him to catch up with Liberal Party presidential candidate Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, political analysts said Thursday.

“(Villar) should have … shifted his strategy from merely defending himself to going on a counteroffensive,” said professor Bobby Tuazon, policy director of the University of the Philippines-based Center for People Empowerment and Governance.

“Since the beginning of this year, the camp of Manny Villar has been the target of negative stories that have a negative impact on his credibility and integrity,” Tuazon told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Tuazon said that it was difficult for a presidential candidate to remain on the defensive because the positive effects of being perceived as an underdog would not last.

“It would have been more prudent for the handlers of Manny Villar to devise a more flexible approach,” Tuazon said.

Tuazon said the Villar camp could have done a better job of questioning Aquino’s preparedness, leadership and performance.

Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms, said Villar’s problem was two-fold.

One was how to arrest his own slide in the surveys in the remaining days of the campaign and the second was how to catch up to Aquino.

“[Villar] wasn’t able to surge ahead in March and in April. It’s unlikely that he would be able to catch up at this time,” Casiple told the Inquirer.

“This has the makings of a landslide win for Noynoy,” he added.

Machinery crucial

Tuazon, however, said a candidate’s machinery would still be crucial in ensuring that one’s popularity translates into actual votes.

“Manny Villar has been preparing his machinery,” Tuazon said. He said Aquino should do the same.

Many local leaders from the administration party have defected to the NP.

The latest Pulse Asia survey doesn’t determine the outcome of the presidential election, said Pulse Asia president Ronald Holmes.

“It just tells candidates what they should do (in the remaining days of the campaign),” Holmes said.

Insignificant increase

Asked about former President Joseph Estrada catching up with Villar for a tie in second place, Holmes said it was more of Villar losing ground rather than the former president gaining more voters.

“That’s marginal. That’s insignificant,” Holmes said of Estrada’s 2-percentage-point increase in the latest survey. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Villar’s slide, however, was “borderline significant” at 5 percentage points, Holmes said.

One of the developments at the time of the survey was Estrada and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s allegation that Villar influenced the Philippine Stock Exchange board of directors into relaxing its rules and allowing the sale of Villar’s own shares in his Vista Land & Lifescapes Inc., despite a lockup provision.

The Estrada camp alleged that Villar unduly raised billions of pesos from the transaction and that he was using P5 billion to fund his campaign.

Karen Ang

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