Villar: Survey timing suspect; Legarda: It’s infiltrated, for trending
By Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MALOLOS CITY, Philippines—Manuel Villar has questioned the timing of the latest Pulse Asia survey on presidential preferences showing him and Joseph Estrada tied for second place after Benigno Aquino III.
“Why did they [start the] field survey on April 23?” Villar told reporters after a rally and rock concert dubbed “Rockatropa” late on Thursday, marking the first time the Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer raised questions on the accuracy of a preelection survey.
Villar noted that Pulse Asia began field work on the day it was reported that Estrada and senatorial candidate Juan Ponce Enrile were accusing him of bending bourse rules to allow the sale of shares of the family-owned Vista Land & Lifescapes Inc. in 2007.
(In answer to that accusation, Villar had said no law was violated, and that the government even earned more than P100 million in taxes from the public offering of shares of his real estate firm.)
Villar told reporters that a survey was just one “indication” of candidates’ chances at the polls.
“We have survey results that we accept and survey results we don’t,” he said, adding:
“It’s up to the people who want to make surveys… We are not stopping [survey] companies from doing it, and it’s up to the readers to believe the results.
“We will just continue with our [campaign activities]. In the end, we will be proven correct.”
If Villar was diplomatic in expressing his displeasure at the survey results, his running mate Loren Legarda did not pull her punches.
“They have mastered the art of black propaganda, lies and slander. What kind of leaders are they?” she said.
According to Legarda, Pulse Asia is “infiltrated” by Aquino’s Liberal Party (LP) because the latter’s cousin, Rapa Lopa, is its president.
“That [April 23-25] survey is inaccurate. It’s an impossibility. Let’s not base our victory or defeat on the surveys because it’s clear that the surveys have been infiltrated,” Legarda said.
She said the results were not in sync with the reality on the ground but were made public “so that there will be trending and mind-conditioning.”
Legarda said the NP “should not be affected by surveys because we are strong from the ground.”
She said Fidel Ramos and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo never led in preelection surveys, but ultimately became President.
She added: “I was No. 17 in the [preelection senatorial survey] in 1888, but became No. 1.”
Legarda said Pulse Asia officials had admitted that survey respondents were predetermined—meaning, she said, that they had a regular pool of respondents.
“Only the sampling [size] is changed,” Legarda said.
“If the owner of a survey company is the first cousin of a candidate… If your cousin is an owner—although he resigned or took a leave—it’s easy to know where the respondents are,” she said.
She challenged reporters: “All of you, ask around in your communities if a person has been surveyed. None. [After] three months that I campaigned around the Philippines—and this is my fourth national election—I know what I’m talking about. Not one person told me that he or she had been surveyed.”
Legarda has dropped to third place in the Pulse Asia survey of vice presidential candidates, having been dislodged from the No. 2 post by Estrada’s running mate Jejomar Binay.
Aquino’s running mate Manuel “Mar” Roxas is still leading the pack at 37 percent despite a drop of 6 percentage points.
But Legarda said: “Mar can take all the surveys; I’ll take the people’s votes.”
She said survey results reflected “the opinion of a small group of people at a particular point in time.”
“How can 3,000, mostly urban-based, people speak for 50 million Filipino voters? If you want to know the real pulse of the people, go out in the streets and to the provinces, and get to know the people,” she said.
‘Real gauge of victory’
Legarda said the real gauge of victory was the sentiment of the entire nation, as exemplified by the “very warm” reception she had been getting on the campaign trail.
“The true survey is out there,” she said. “Ask anyone who has been in my campaign sorties. People line the streets during motorcades. They flock to the markets when I visit; thousands converge on municipal gyms and stadiums when my running mate Manny Villar and I speak. How can all these people be wrong?”
Legarda said the people had inspired her to campaign harder.
She said the ratings game was a political tool that politicians commissioned to “brainwash people into believing that their candidate will win.”
Legarda said part of the reason survey firms were purportedly not treating her well was the fact that she had not commissioned any survey or subscribed to one.
“Unlike my rivals, I don’t commission surveys. I campaign on the ground. I try to reach out to as many people as possible on the ground level—in markets, city halls, and plazas. I bring my platform and humanitarian mission to them. And I also engage in dialogue with them through consultation meetings,” she said.
Legarda, whose claimed constituency is the D and E socioeconomic classes, issued a challenge to Roxas and Binay to go through a “grassroots popularity test.”
“I challenge my two opponents: Let’s all stand at a corner of Quiapo [in Manila] and see who will be mobbed by the people, even for 30 seconds,” she said.
Legarda said the campaign period was an opportunity to inform voters of the issues besetting the country, and to present concrete, doable platforms.
She said the warm reception she had been getting “really shows that a platform-based campaign reaches out to people, and that we are succeeding in running a campaign that educates voters.