'Protest vote' to elect opposition candidates, says LP

‘Protest vote’ to elect opposition candidates, says LP
By Aurea Calica
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The Liberal Party (LP) is confident that a “protest vote” would elect candidates who are the anti-thesis of the administration on May 10.

The LP said a survey commissioned by the Manila Broadcasting Co. and its flagship station dzRH showed LP presidential candidate Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III remained the top choice among voters with 37.1 percent, followed by Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Manuel Villar Jr. with 29.8 percent.

Former President Joseph Estrada of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino was third with 13.9 percent, Lakas-Kampi-CMD bet Gilberto Teodoro Jr. ranked fourth with 6.9 percent, and Sen. Richard Gordon of Bagumbayan was fifth overall at 3.1 percent, tailed closely by Bro. Eddie Villanueva in sixth place with 2.6 percent.

In the vice presidential race, Sen. Manuel Roxas II garnered 44.3 percent, while Sen. Loren Legarda was second at 24 percent.

Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay was third with 12.1 percent followed by actor and TV host Edu Manzano with 5.9 percent and former Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Bayani Fernando with 2.2 percent.

The MBC and dzRH said 7,461 respondents were interviewed face-to-face for the survey.

Speaking to reporters, LP spokesman Sen. Francis Pangilinan said just like in 2007, when detained military officer Antonio Trillanes IV won in the senatorial race, the people would again show their wrath against the administration’s candidates and their perceived allies.

“The message of change will be the reason why we see an Aquino-Roxas victory,” he said.

“We believe that as we come closer to May 10, the more the people’s sentiment, the people’s cry for a clean government and for the candidates they can trust will come out.”

Pangilinan said Senator Trillanes won “out of nowhere, out of the blue” and defeated even those who spent heavily on advertising.

Eight of the 12 top campaign spenders in the 2007 senatorial elections did not win, he added.

Pangilinan said the people were the ones who pushed for the victory of Trillanes.

“If the (anti-administration sentiment) was already that strong on the Senate level, the more intense it would this 2010, the protest of the people would be more evident. They are already sick and tired of the rotten and oppressive politicians,” he said.

Pangilinan said they could not see a downtrend in the people’s support for Aquino.

“We are still ahead, the rivals appear to be catching up but elections are still far and wherever we go, people go out without (our) paying them,” he said.

The tens of thousands of people who came to their rallies in Zamboanga City, Dumaguete, Cebu and other areas wanted to see Aquino, Pangilinan said.

LP senatorial candidate Alex Lacson and Pangilinan reiterated the warning of Archbishop of Manila Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales and Catholic bishops in Metro Manila against excessive campaign spending by presidential candidates.

Lacson said the people should be wary of politicians spending too much on their campaign because they would surely seek a return on investment once elected.

Pangilinan said, “We share their sentiments on the two major issues of corruption and poverty, which are intimately linked.”

Pangilinan said this was the exact battlecry of Aquino and Roxas – nobody would be poor if there are no corrupt officials.

“Two major and perennial issues haunting the country are poverty and government graft and corruption, with such destructive mutuality, that as corruption increases, poverty worsens,” the bishops said in the letter which was read in all Metro Manila churches last Sunday.

LP campaign manager and Florencio Abad said yesterday they have money to ensure that Aquino and Roxas and their other candidates would be victorious on May 10.

“The Liberal Party has the money to win but not to buy the elections,” he said.

Abad said the LP has enough funds that would see the party through until the homestretch of the elections.

The LP has over 200,000 volunteers nationwide to ensure that the ballots in the automated polls are properly counted, he added.

Lakas: Nothing to do with tracking polls

The camp of Lakas-Kampi-CMD presidential candidate Teodoro said yesterday it was not involved in the commissioning or release of the tracking polls on this year’s presidential race done by the Campaigns and Image Group-Philippines (CIG-Philippines).

Lawyer Mike Toledo, Teodoro’s spokesman and head of the G1B0 2010 Media Bureau, said the statements he had issued regarding the surveys of Campaigns and Image were merely in reaction to the poll results, which he had read in several news reports.

The Campaigns and Image survey ending March 7 showed Teodoro already in second place with a 24 percent rating, a significant improvement from his previous 18 percent in the February survey of the same research group.

“We read about Gibo’s improving ratings in the surveys of Campaigns and Image in various news reports,” he said.

“We got the information about them just like anybody else, which was through the media.

“Naturally, we would react to such reports given his favorable standing in the surveys.”

Toledo said he was surprised that the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting had denied involvement in the surveys after the research firm had already come out with its third survey.

“If I remember it correctly, Campaigns and Image mentioned the PPCRV in the first survey it had released which was more than a month ago,” he said.

“We’re just puzzled as to why the PPCRV is reacting only now.”

On the other hand, CIG-Philippines, in a press statement released yesterday afternoon, apologized to PPCRV for dragging it into the poll survey resource controversy.

“For the record, my team and the issue interception work we perform for clients did not involve the PPCRV whatsoever. The main trouble was that some of our friends and acquaintances, who happened to be volunteers of the PPCRV, have assisted us in their personal capacity in administering the questionnaires during the January 2010 poll,” Abby Canturias, CIG-Philippines managing director, said.

For the record, Canturias also stressed that their surveys were meant only and solely for the consumption of foreign clients that commissioned the firm to do interception studies in the run-up to inevitable changes in government policy regimen when the new president is sworn in by June 2010.

“Those analyses were written for the vantage point of multinationals outside looking in,” Canturias said.

Canturias said their group is composed of former newspaper editors, radio commentators, and opinion writers.

“We made a living from providing our clients the objective and comprehensive insights they needed on domestic rules and regulations and politico-economic issues that affected their business operations in the Philippines.

“We are no strangers to gathering information through different methods to get into the bottom of issues in the Philippine’s political economy.

“To the PPCRV: Please accept our sincere apologies. We are aware that you have steadfastly guarded your credibility for many years and you have transcended from one administration to another with integrity and honor as a citizen arm overseeing the conduct of past balloting in the Philippines.

“We consider your neutrality as the hallmark of social responsibility and fairness. This controversy is indeed regrettable, for the trouble it has caused, on your part as well as ours, and we beg for your understanding.”

PPCRV maintains non-partisan stand

The PPCRV said yesterday it has not commissioned a presidential survey for the 2010 elections.

“We are investigating the source of these reports,” the PPCRV said.

“PPCRV does not focus on conducting surveys… We will never take part in surveys.

Tita de Villa, PPCRV chair, said they are a non-partisan movement committed to clean, honest, accurate, meaningful and peaceful elections.

“Our focus is to help inform the voters about the process of choosing their candidates to enable them to make wise decisions on election day,” she said.

PPCRV is also preparing its volunteer poll watchers for their election day duties in the country’s first-ever automated elections. – With  Jaime Laude, Evelyn Macairan, Edith Regalado