'Don't be surprised if frontrunner loses'

‘Don’t be surprised if frontrunner loses’
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The race for the presidency is still wide open, Malacañang said yesterday.

Speaking to reporters, Press Undersecretary Rogelio Peyuan said Filipinos must not be surprised if the winner is not among the frontrunners in the surveys.

“Elections give us a lot of surprises,” he said.

Peyuan said figures from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) showed some 50 million registered voters nationwide, out of a population of about 92 to 94 million.

“It would be very safe for each and everyone to think and to always keep in mind that if there are about 50 million voters and 10 or 11 percent of them do not vote, as we experienced in the past, it would be hard for us to have faith in the surveys that have 900 respondents in Luzon, 600 in the Visayas and maybe another 600 in Mindanao. That would be very, very unfair to even presume and assume that that (surveys) is the sentiment of the people,” he said.

Peyuan cited the case of Lakas-Kampi-CMD standard-bearer Gilbert Teodoro Jr., who has not fared well in the surveys.

Nevertheless, he won the endorsement of Pastor Apollo Quiboloy of the Kingdom of Christ the Name Above Every Name, which has five to six million followers nationwide.

Peyuan said supporters have heavy turnouts during the campaign sorties of the other presidential candidates.

Other groups with substantial following may announce their preferred candidates before May 10, he added.

Enrile: Polls would be unpredictable

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said the elections would be unpredictable despite the high survey ratings of Liberal Party presidential candidate Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and his running mate, Sen. Manuel Roxas II.

“It can go either way,” he said. “Well, as of now, Noynoy is leading the surveys. But there are issues raised against one another, and this would affect the minds of our people.”

“In the last hour, they will make up their minds. Until that point is reached, it would be fair and square. You cannot be sure of the outcome of the election,” he said.

“You have an undecided number of about 10 percent at this point that can swing either way,” he added. “If the turnout of the election is 70 percent, then you have around 3.5 million undecided voters.”

Enrile, who is running for re-election under the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino, said the Iglesia ni Cristo’s possible endorsement of Aquino would give the him a wider lead.

However, that will not change the position of their standard bearer, former President Joseph Estrada in relation to Nacionalista Party presidential candidate Sen. Manuel Villar Jr.

Enrile said the INC has a command vote of three to four million, which could help a candidate win an election, he added.

He was not aware as to how many voters Quiboloy could deliver, but that too could change, he added.

Based on experience, there could still be shifting of support in favor of one or the other presidential candidates, he said.

Enrile dismissed speculations of a failure of elections or the need for snap polls.

“I do not know why are they so preoccupied with the so-called failure of election,” he said.

“I have no fear that the election will fail. I don’t think it will.”

Santiago cautions Aquino vs people power

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago cautioned Aquino yesterday against his statement that the Filipino people might resort to people power if the results of the elections will not be acceptable to them.

“That is an extremely dangerous statement, because if that is the case that Mr. Aquino might be tempted to lead a people power demonstration if he does not win, then all other presidentiables who have reasonable chances of winning such as those who place no. 2 or no. 3 maybe up to no. 4 in the surveys might also be tempted to make the same threat so we will have a culture of resistance or disobedience to authorities,” she said.

Santiago said all presidential candidates must respect the results of the elections.

“There should always be caveat that the results of the elections should be accepted as regular because that is the presumption in the rules of court unless proven otherwise,” she said.

Santiago said that when she lost the presidency to retired Gen. Fidel Ramos in 1992, she filed an election protest.

“So in my case in 1992 I deliberately, voluntarily and spontaneously refrained from calling a people power,” she said.

“If you remember I was a very close number two. The president was not elected by a majority vote, and in fact he got only less than 30 percent of the vote and his margin over me was less than one million,” she said.

“But all the same I took the legal route. I filed an election protest with the Presidential Electoral Tribunal. I did not call on the young people who are my avid supporters at that time to spill out into the streets because I felt extremely responsible for their lives and their safety,” she added.

Santiago asked presidential candidates not to raise the specter of massive civil unrest.

“But if they are not lucky to be proclaimed as president notwithstanding their own beliefs on their invincibility in the election process then they should go to court like what I did,” she said. – Paolo Romero, Aurea Calica and Christina Mendez

Karen Ang

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