Ernesto Maceda

Trapo Alert! Detecting political pandering, part 4

Panderometer

Featuring Gringo Honasan, Ernesto Maceda and Migz Zubiri.

This is the fourth part in a series on the candidates for the senate in 2013. Just a recap: I am attempting through this series to have a serious discussion of the aspirants and their political platforms (or lack thereof). These are put through what I call the pander-o-meter to determine whether the policy detail they have released so far places them in either the reformist or populist columns. The following table details the range of possible scores a candidate can get and the equivalent meaning of each reading:

Introducing: the ‘Pander-o-meter’ or Trapo Scale

A reading of… …is equivalent to…

1-2

Low levels of pandering detected, generally reformist in nature

3

A mixed bag of proposals aimed at both pandering and reforming

4

Trapo alert! Approaching dangerous levels of pandering

5

Could be likened to a vote buying trapo

In part 1, I covered Juan Edgardo Angara, JrBenigno Aquino IV and Alan Peter Cayetano. In part 2, I covered Francis Escudero, Risa Hontiveros and Loren Legarda. In part 3, I covered Aquilino Pimentel IIIJoseph Victor Ejercito and Juan Ponce Enrile, Jr.

In this instalment, I will be covering Gregorio Honasan II, Ernesto Maceda and Juan Miguel Zubiri.

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Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan (Ind-UNA): has been principally involved in crafting a number of landmark pieces of legislation on the environment (Clean Air, Clean Water and Solid Waste Management Acts), national security and public safety (National Security policy and Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Act) and social reform (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms Law).

His manifesto says that he is currently shepherding the passage of a number of bills through the Senate. These are listed as:

  1. Freedom of Information (what he calls POGI or the People’s Ownership of Government Information) act
  2. National Mapping and Resource Authority Law and Land Use Act
  3. Mini-Marshal Plan for Mindanao.

My critique:

It is clear from the senator’s platform and track record that he takes a strategic view with regards to public policy issues. The pieces of legislation that he tends to get involved with are often framework documents in areas that are often neglected and require the state to set the scene. They don’t make for catchy political jingles or slogans but they are essential nonetheless.

The Clean Air Act has been criticised due to implementation failures owing to corruption, but at its core are the fundamental principles of using a market-based mechanism for pollution abatement and of making polluters pay for their emissions. These create incentives for motorists and businesses to change their behaviour in the long-run.

Similarly with a National Land Use Act, the development of a 30-year plan would come into play which would guide the setting of city and municipal zoning ordinances and ensure the proper use and development of natural resources based on a mapping of regions done at the national level. One of the important benefits of this would be to prevent settlements in ecologically sensitive or disaster prone places. Again, behaviour would be changed because a national framework would be in place.

Overall comments:

Senator Honasan demonstrates through his legislative work a kind of far-sighted, long-range vision and planning that is needed in solving many vexed public policy problems. The kind of structural reforms he pursues are the sort that don’t make the headlines or score him brownie points with the public, but they will be noted historically as landmark pieces of legislation for their long-lasting impact.

Pander-o-meter: 1.5 out of 5

(Update: I have had to revise Gringo’s score from 1 to 1.5 due to his stand on the reproductive health bill.)

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Ernesto Maceda (NPC-UNA): the former senate president has a thirteen point agenda which are organised under five major themes:

  1. Senior citizens: the creation of a conditional cash transfer type allowance for seniors and the increase of senior citizen’s discounts from 20% to 30%.
  2. Job creation: creating 3 million new jobs over the next 4 years through infrastructure works, agricultural programs and by offering credit to 1 million small businesses.
  3. Education: tripling the budget for state universities and colleges (SUC), increasing scholarships offered to poor students at SUCs from 10% to 50% and reviving the study now, pay later scheme.
  4. Local government unit (LGU) fund allocation: increasing the internal revenue allotments of LGUs to 50% from the current 40%.
  5. Clean and safe drinking water: providing safe and potable drinking water to every household.

My critique:

Including seniors in the Pantawid Pamilya or 4P’s program would essentially turn it into a pension scheme (see also my comments under JV Ejercito who has made a similar proposal). Perhaps what the senator intends to do is provide a wider safety net to seniors than what currently exists. To do that he would have to address their healthcare costs which rise as they get older.

There are about 1.51 million Filipinos aged 65 and older according to the Department of Labor and Employment, out of which about 1.49 million are employed and 22,000 are unemployed. This sounds strange as you would expect most seniors to be retired (perhaps most of them are engaged in part-time work). Assuming they are provided with a Php 500 per month allowance or Php 6,000 a year, that would cost the taxpayers an additional Php 9 billion annually*. The question here is how should the government shoulder this expense?

The target of creating 3 million jobs in 4 years has already been achieved in recent years (on average) even without any new policies or programs being enacted. Perhaps the target needs to be a bit more ambitious (which is the 1 million jobs per year which the government has but doesn’t meet consistently). What is needed is not a new goal but a new way of achieving it. The usual tired old idea of using infrastructure projects and livelihood programs which Mr Maceda espouses is already at play.

Tripling the current SUC budget would require an extra Php 60 billion given last year’s budget. Again, the question here is how the government should support such an expansion and whether it is appropriate to do so given the quality issues prevailing in the system. Those who follow this space know that I have offered a comprehensive reform package here, which would address questions of affordability, effectiveness and quality at minimum cost to taxpayers.

As for expanding the IRA to 50%, again the problem lies in the fact that many LGUs are simply not adopting best practice because they are so accustomed to deriving a large portion of their budgets from the national treasury automatically. Improving their revenue raising capacity through other measures would allow them to gain true fiscal autonomy (see also my comments under Koko Pimentel who is pushing for the same measure as Mr Maceda).

Clean and safe drinking water is of course an ongoing program of the government. The UN MDG report has shown us being on track towards achieving the relevant targets of providing safe drinking water and sanitation by 2015. Of course meeting the MDG targets wouldn’t get us to universal access, but in the case of drinking water, we would be coming really close.

Overall comments:

Mr Maceda seems to be operating on the basis of limitless resources as far as the budget is concerned. Perhaps if the Philippine government had revenues equivalent to 33% of GDP like other nations with a BBB- credit rating instead of the measly 18% that it currently collects (as Fitch Ratings recently noted), we could afford to undertake the costly measures he proposes. Unfortunately, we don’t. So that means, we need to prioritise and rationalise our level of spending, or we need to raise additional taxes. That choice hasn’t been posed by Mr Maceda’s program of government.

As for the targets he sets for job creation and safe drinking water, the government is currently on track to achieve them.

Pander-o-meter: 5 out of 5

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Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri (PMP-UNA): the Bukidnon based first term senator who resigned due to allegations of cheating at the 2007 elections is campaigning on a platform comprised of five key planks. I would like to focus on just the two primary ones covering health and education due to space limitations.

1. Health:

  • Description: making healthcare “totally free including hospitalisation in government hospitals and health facilities” and providing free medicine at public hospitals among others
  • Cost: upwards of Php150 billion (see explanation below)
  • Source of funding: not specified

My critique:

The latest Philippine National Health Accounts show total health expenditures in the Philippines was Php379 billion back in 2010 up from Php269 billion in 2007. Of this about Php100 billion came from public sources (national and local governments), another Php34 billion from social insurance (medicare and employer contributions), Php 6.4 billion from donors and grants, and finally about Php240 billion from private sources. Of the private sources, about Php200 billion were out-of-pocket expenses, which has been growing at an annual rate of 10.6 per cent.

Assuming out-of-pocket expenses continue to rise at the same rate, it would total Php299 billion by 2014. Now suppose that about half of these out-of-pocket expenses were to be shouldered under Mr Zubiri’s policy proposal. That would require additional funding to the tune of about Php150 billion by 2014.

Either we raise additional revenues (including insurance premiums) to cover this or the budget deficit would have to blow out to 3-4% of GDP per year from the current 2-3%. That level of spending would be unsustainable. We would definitely lose our coveted investment grade status immediately. The alternative would be to cut spending elsewhere to the tune of Php150 billion to fund his policy. Which programs would he cut? Mr Zubiri has to offer a way to square this circle.

Providing free medical services and medicine at government hospitals and health facilities would cause a shift in behaviour, as people who formerly sought treatment at private facilities substitute private for public healthcare providers. This would put a greater strain on public hospitals to deal with this influx of patients. Mr Zubiri has to specify how the government would handle not only the full subsidy to health patients, but also the growing number of people who seek treatment from it.

2. Education:

  • Description: providing free breakfast and lunch at public schools, increasing entry level salaries for public school teachers and offering special education centres in the public system among others,
  • Cost: not specified
  • Source of funding: not specified

My critique:

The food for school program (FSP) was introduced by the Arroyo government during a period of rising rice imports and food price inflation. Program evaluations have indicated certain inefficiencies associated with managing the logistics of it. The 4P’s was seen as a more effective way to achieve the same results without the administrative cost and wastage. That is why the Aquino government ramped it up, while addressing some of the weaknesses of the FSP. Expanding the 4P’s rather than FSP is the better, more cost-effective option based on the evidence.

Increasing salaries for entry level teachers is clearly a vote getter, and it is a continuation of past measures to improve salaries of frontline service providers. Rather than imposing such an across the board adjustment, which would create budget pressure on the already strained DepEd budget, a more realistic option would be to provide extra salary loading to teachers who are assigned to remote regions, thereby encouraging the movement of qualified staff to those locations.

Providing additional salary loading to teachers with training to handle children with special needs would also help address the problem of learning difficulties in school. Special diagnostic tests would be the first step. We need to first measure the magnitude of the problem existing among our school children before embarking on a policy solution.

Overall comments:

Mr Zubiri is indeed trying to revive his political fortunes using vote-getting politics. He has flagged health policy as his number one priority. The problem is that funding his proposals would cause the government to go broke. Without offering a way to fund this additional level of spending, we are entitled to consider these promises as mere pie-in-the-sky. The more likely outcome if his proposals are adopted is for government hospitals to be overwhelmed with the influx of patients who then get turned away or for their service to suffer even further.

Ignoring the evidence by espousing an expansion of a program that has serious flaws is a bit reckless, as well. Calling for across the board wage adjustments would not necessarily solve the problem of hiring qualified teachers which is more acutely felt in remote parts of the country. Proposing policies without estimating the magnitude of the problem and diagnosing it properly is the fault of many aspiring senators. Mr Zubiri has demonstrated his capacity for it in spades.

Pander-o-meter: 6 out of 5 (off the charts!)

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Next up: Teodoro Casiño and the small parties: DPP, Kapatiran and SJP.

*Update: Ernesto Reyes in this recently released ADB report arrives at a similar estimation by assuming that 20% of the 6.2 million elderly Filipinos aged 60 and above or 1.2 million are poor. It makes sense, because individuals who cannot afford to retire have to keep working beyond the retirement age (either that or they love their jobs extremely).

Estrada scolds Maceda; LP warns of ‘Arroyo option’

Estrada scolds Maceda; LP warns of ‘Arroyo option’
By Philip Tubeza, Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Be careful what you wish for.

Former President Joseph Estrada Thursday said he scolded former Sen. Ernesto Maceda for coming up with that “kalokohan (nonsense)”.

Maceda, Estrada’s campaign manager, said on Tuesday that supporting Estrada may be the Arroyo administration’s “only option” if it wants to prevent an Aquino victory.

He came out with the scenario to explain how Estrada could still overtake Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, a consistent front-runner in the major surveys of presidential contenders.

Estrada would be sinking his own ship if he’s open to an alliance with the Arroyo administration just to boost his chances against the Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer.

LP director general Chito Gascon Thursday had this bit of advice for Estrada, in effect telling the 73-year-old opposition leader to junk the Maceda suggestion.

Gascon said the widespread unpopularity of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would spell doom for any presidential candidate she would support.

He cited as an example the falling survey numbers of Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Senator Manuel Villar, who had been rumored early in the campaign season to be Ms Arroyo’s “secret candidate” and not administration candidate Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro. The Villar and Arroyo camps had denied forging an alliance.

Unrepentant regime

“Now that a clear win by Senator Noy is imminent, it could very well be logical for this unrepentant regime to swing their support to former President Estrada in an anybody-but-Noynoy game plan,” Gascon said in a statement.

“But we all know that an Arroyo endorsement will only bring down Estrada and help the chances of Sen. Villar instead, so I don’t think this last card, a Plan C, is going to play out on May 10,” he said.

Irritation

In an Inquirer interview, an angry Estrada said he immediately confronted Maceda after reading about the latter’s statement.

“How can that be! It irritates me just to hear that name (of the President),” Estrada said in Filipino.

“She grabbed power and then threw me in jail,” said Estrada, who was ousted in a people power uprising in 2001, detained for six years, and convicted of plunder in 2007. His successor, Ms Arroyo, granted him pardon a month after his conviction.

Estrada said Maceda issued the statement without his clearance, and that his chief campaigner probably thought he could do that because “he is older than me.”

The day the story came out, text messages began circulating claiming that Estrada—not Villar—was now Malacañang’s “pet” in the presidential derby. Estrada dismissed these as black propaganda.

‘She almost ruined my life’

“Maybe it’s Maceda-Arroyo,” he said, and not really “Villarroyo,” the buzzword coined by critics to describe the alleged Villar-Arroyo partnership.

Estrada said it would be “impossible” for him to accept help from someone whom he had been denouncing in his campaign speeches as one of the conspirators behind his ouster from Malacañang.

“I might as well lose than join her. She almost ruined my life,” he said.

Estrada is Arroyo’s last card vs Aquino–Maceda

Estrada is Arroyo’s last card vs Aquino–Maceda
By Norman Bordadora, Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Supporting former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada may be the only remaining option for the Arroyo administration if it wants to prevent Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III from winning next week’s presidential elections, according to Estrada’s campaign manager.

“If they don’t like Noynoy to win, whether they talk to us or not, it’s normal or it’s not surprising if they swing their support to us to try to block the victory of Noynoy,” former Sen. Ernesto Maceda told reporters on Monday.

“That’s how we will overtake (Noynoy) if and when all of these people who don’t like Noynoy and who feel that (administration bet Gilbert) Teodoro or (Nacionalista Party candidate Sen. Manuel) Villar or (Sen. Richard) Gordon have no chance of winning,” Maceda added.

Maceda painted this scenario as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Tuesday ruled with finality that Estrada—who was ousted in 2001, convicted of plunder in 2007 and then granted presidential pardon that same year—could seek reelection.

The Comelec upheld its Jan. 20 ruling and dismissed the motion for reconsideration filed by lawyer Evillo Pormento, who had sought Estrada’s disqualification.

The poll body maintained that Estrada, 73, was not covered by the constitutional ban on the reelection of chief executives because he was not a sitting president.

Pormento failed to present any new argument that would make the body change its mind, the Comelec said Tuesday.

An elated Estrada said the Comelec decision would “enhance my vote-getting power” and improve his chances of winning.

‘People can think again’

Those who went for other candidates in the past presidential surveys may now reconsider their choices, Estrada said.

“The black propaganda against me (was) that I will be disqualified,” Estrada added. “People can think again.”

Maceda also presented the results of a survey conducted from April 23 to 25 showing Estrada already at solo second with 25 percent below Aquino’s 35 percent, with Villar falling to third with 17 percent.

Teodoro landed fourth with 9 percent in the survey commissioned by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, a reelectionist under Estrada’s party Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino.

In the latest Pulse Asia survey conducted also from April 23 to 25, Aquino also led the pack with 39 percent, while Estrada and Villar tied for second place at 20 percent.

“I think their only option is to swing their support to us to block the victory of Noynoy,” Maceda said.

Last person

But Estrada answered no when asked if there had been feelers from the Arroyo administration for a possible alliance in the run-up to the May 10 elections.

“I believe that I’d be the last person they’d talk to. Because, you know, they grabbed power from me and then they put me behind bars,” Estrada said.

The former leader said he didn’t have any debt of gratitude to the administration even with the pardon granted by Ms Arroyo.

“She’s the one who has a debt of gratitude. She was the one who sat (as President). She even did so for (almost) 10 years,” Estrada said.

Estrada had spent the most part of his campaign projecting himself as the only true opposition candidate.

Rut

Rut
By Conrado de Quiros
Philippine Daily Inquirer

IT’S ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU WANT TO LEAVE the country. That’s the Pulse Asia survey that shows these 12 senatorial candidates on top: 1. Bong Revilla, 2. Jinggoy Estrada, 3. Miriam Santiago, 4. Pia Cayetano, 5. Franklin Drilon, 6. Juan Ponce Enrile, 7. Tito Sotto, 8. Ralph Recto, 9. Serge Osmeña, 10. Bongbong Marcos, 11. Lito Lapid, and 12. TG Guingona.

That’s got important—and dismaying—things to say about our political culture.

One is that corruption isn’t all that damning to us. Or else many of those top 12 would be languishing at the bottom of the barrel instead of Neric Acosta. It reinforces my belief that we have a clear concept of nakaw, which is visible theft (snatching, pickpocketing, holdup) and we have a clear concept of going overboard (sugapa, swapang), but we have a fuzzy concept of pillage. Either we do not think of what is being stolen as our money or we grant our public officials leeway to plunder so long as they do not plunder too grossly. That Marcos and Enrile, who are both associated with plundering grossly, are up there must suggest further that we are a truly forgetful race, having already forgotten martial law.

Two is a variation of the saying, “There are no permanent friends, only permanent interests,” which is, “There are no ceaseless loyalties, only ceaseless reinventions.” Again Enrile takes the cake there. He’s the perfect revealer of Philippine political culture, a fellow who has thrived under the most disparate, indeed conflicting, conditions and ideologies, variously under Marcos, Cory, Ramos, Erap and Gloria. I wouldn’t be surprised if he continues to flourish under Aquino, having done him the supreme favor of pulling Villar down.

Three, Enrile’s and Miriam’s high ratings must suggest as well that “walang iwanan” or the kind of loyalty associated with dogs, fraternities and gangs might be overrated as a value. Both were ardent Erap defenders, distinguishing themselves in the impeachment trial for blocking the opening of the second envelope, thereby ushering Edsa 2, and opening the floodgates for the riots in Mendiola by urging the ragged crowd at the Shrine to “sugod, sugod,” thereby dooming “Edsa 3.” Later, in a hugely farcical addition to the farce, Santiago would place a revolver on her desk and defy the authorities to arrest her. As in what, she would have done an Ivler with them if they did?

And then faster than you could say “Brenda,” they were vowing “walang iwanan”—to Gloria.

Four, news of the death of entertainers in national politics is grossly exaggerated. National politics of course is where they’ve thrived, not the local one. Local politics is still ward politics, not popularity politics, as shown by Rudy Fernandez losing to Sonny Belmonte in Quezon City and Manny Pacquiao to Darlene Custodio in South Cotabato, both, if not at the height of their popularity, at least not very far from it.

The notion that entertainers are on the wane comes from their showing in 2007 when Tito Sotto, Richard Gomez, Cesar Montano and several others failed in their bid. And indeed when FPJ, the king of them all, as his title proclaimed, lost to GMA in 2004—or so it seemed (I’ll get to that presently).

In fact, in the case of Sotto, what caused his loss was less being perceived as an entertainer than as having turned his back on FPJ. That was borne out by the surveys. Which must make us add a caveat to walang iwanan as a value or non-value: It matters when the turnaround is immediate, less so when buried by time. Defensor and Enrile have had 10 years to reinvent themselves from being Erap loyalists, Sotto had only three from being an FPJ loyalist.

Gomez and Montano made the leap too fast too soon. Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada have the advantage of having parents who gave political capital to their family names. Quite incidentally Ramon Revilla did not win the first time he ran for senator from the fatal mistake of using his real name instead of his screen name. They have the advantage too, as does Sotto, of continuous exposure throughout the year from the things they do. And Bong Revilla found the most high-profile issue of all, one that, well, pricked the nation’s imagination the way Ernesto Maceda did ages ago with the “Brunei Beauties”: Hayden Kho’s escapades. That’s why Jinggoy is only number 2.

No, the entertainers will be here for quite a while.

Five, FPJ did not lose the elections, he was robbed of the elections. It wasn’t a case of the dawning of a new day, the entertainers were gone, it was a case only of “Da King is dead, long live Da King.” It certainly wasn’t the dawning of a new day on two counts.

At the very least because the seeming disappearance of the entertainers only meant the reappearance of the trapos led by GMA and Jose de Venecia. The latter, still smarting from being crushed by Erap in 1998, would later help GMA avoid paying the price of stealing the elections. He would also later pay the price for that, by being crushed by GMA. Two-zero. De Venecia it was who would lobby hard for a shift to a parliamentary system, which would defang popularity and make the trapo da king once and for all. He would fail miserably.

At the very most because it did not just announce the reappearance of the trapo, it announced the reappearance of the extreme form of the trapo, which was the dictator. The entertainers weren’t beaten through the vote, they were beaten through the theft of the vote, the trapos reasserting themselves by showing that if they could not win by hook, they would win by crook. If they could not win by popularity, they would win by force. If they could not rule by law, they would rule without the law.

Six, when will we ever get out of the rut of having to choose between entertainer and trapo?

Aquino apologizes; Villar won’t explain Davao no-show

Aquino apologizes; Villar won’t explain Davao no-show
By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr., Michael Lim Ubac, Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Liberal Party standard-bearer Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III made a public apology while Nacionalista Party (NP) bet Manny Villar appealed for “understanding” in response to the sharp words the two leading contenders received for skipping a forum organized by a religious sect leader in Davao City on Tuesday.

Campaigning in Zamboanga City Wednesday, Aquino aired his apology to Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, head of a sect called Kingdom of Jesus Christ, the Name Above Every Name, which claims millions of members and several radio stations.

“When I go to Davao I will seek an audience and explain to him, that it was something beyond my control,” said Aquino in a press conference at the Orchid Garden Hotel. “Getting a cold is something that I cannot schedule.”

Quiboloy, disappointed at the non-appearance of the top two contenders, had called them men with “no word of honor.”

Aquino said he had a cold after his visit to the Visayas last week which prevented him from flying to Davao on Tuesday, as he had promised Quiboloy.

“My doctor advised me to take medicines and he asked for at least two days of rest. I still have a cold at this time,” said Aquino. He said “there would have been no problem if he had everything under his control.”

But Aquino said he pushed through with his Zamboanga sortie Wednesday because he “could not hold it off anymore.” Aquino is set to go to Davao next week.

On the other hand, Villar, campaigning Wednesday in Kabacan, North Cotabato, did not reveal his reasons for not attending Quiboloy’s forum, adding, “We ask for your understanding.”

Before flying to Koronadal City, Villar told reporters he had many reasons—“a hundred reasons”—why he skipped Quiboloy’s forum as well as another one held at the Ateneo de Davao University.

“What happened should be left to us. We will just talk among ourselves,” he told reporters.

Villar said he had explained his decision to the organizers of the lawyers and businessmen’s forum, but did not elaborate.

“I have the same reason for both (forums), but I don’t want to specify. You know, the campaign exacts a heavy toll on the candidates, and sometimes it’s really hard for us to attend all the forums,” he said.

‘They blew it’

Meanwhile, in Naga City, veteran politician and Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino campaign manager Ernesto Maceda said the two top contenders lost their chance to get the religious group’s support.

“Pastor Quiboloy did not hide his displeasure and as far as I’m concerned, without meaning to preempt (Quiboloy’s group), that would imply that they’re out of contention as far as Quiboloy’s concerned for the moment,” Maceda said.

Maceda said only the PMP’s standard-bearer, deposed President Joseph Estrada, administration candidate Gilberto Teodoro and evangelist Brother Eddie Villanueva remain in the running for the endorsement of Quiboloy’s group.

But Estrada himself said he would not read too much into the situation.

“Medyo nagtampo lang siya (He was just a little upset),” Estrada said on Quiboloy’s reaction to the no-show of Aquino and Villar.

Survey shows Villar is fake pro-poor bet, says Erap camp

Survey shows Villar is fake pro-poor bet, says Erap camp
abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – The camp of former President Joseph Estrada said the results of the latest Pulse Asia survey showed that voters are realizing that Sen. Manny Villar is a pseudo pro-poor candidate.

In an interview Friday on ANC’s Dateline Philippines, Estrada’s campaign manager Ernesto Maceda said the 6 percentage point drop in Villar’s rating in the February 21-25 Pulse Asia survey, and the 6 percentage point increase in support for Estrada, showed that voters see the former president as the “real maka-mahirap” (true pro-poor candidate).

Maceda said the latest survey showed Liberal Party standard-bearer Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III “static” at 36-37% while Villar declined from 35% in January 22-26 to 29% in the February 21-25 survey.

On the other hand, Estrada went up from 12% in January 22-26 to 18% in February 21-25.

“We’re the one going up sustainably,” he said.

Villar and Estrada have the same pro-poor focus in the presidential campaign, and they also have the same campaign color, orange.

Instead of competing with Villar in ad spending, Maceda said Estrada has resorted to meeting voters directly, citing their just concluded 4-day sortie in the Visayas.

Erap to peak just in time?

Assuming Estrada continues to climb 6 percentage points each in the succeeding surveys, Maceda said Estrada will be hitting 30%, just the right time to peak for the May 10 elections.

He said any increase in Estrada’s ratings will be at the expense of either Aquino or Villar. He said they have studies which show that the support for Aquino and Villar is not “die hard,” meaning voters can still change their mind in the next two months.

Maceda said Estrada will not be eating into the base of the laggards in the presidential race, such as Bangon Pilipinas’ Bro. Eddie Villanueva, since these are their small core votes.

He said the survey results confirmed their belief that it is bad to peak in the surveys too early, as what happened to Aquino.

Maceda said Aquino had the support of over 50% of the public after his mother Corazon Aquino died in August 2009, but this has since gone down to 36% in the latest Pulse Asia survey.

He said Estrada’s rise in the survey is partly because they have been able to belie the black propaganda that Estrada would withdraw from the race.

Maceda said there were no new offers for Estrada to withdraw, but added that if there was, it would come from Villar, and no one else. “It’s only Villar who would have to resources to reimburse campaign expenses,” he said.

No correlation

Meanwhile, Pulse Asia President Ronald Holmes told ANC’s Dateline Philippines on Friday that it would be wrong to say that the respondents who used to be for Villar went for Estrada in the February 21-25 survey.

This is because the 1,800 respondents in the February 21-25 survey are different from the respondents in the January 22-26 survey.

Holmes said the only correlation one can make from the 6 percentage point increase in support for Estrada and the 6 percentage point drop in Villar is that the rise and fall happened during the same survey period.

Holmes said the latest survey also showed that Aquino maintained his preference rating at 36%, statistically the same as in the previous survey.

He said the survey also showed a resurgence in support for Estrada in Mindanao, with nearly one in three respondents in Mindanao choosing Estrada.

Erap, not C-5, caused Villar’s survey drop

Erap, not C-5, caused Villar’s survey drop
By Carmela Fonbuena, Purple Romero, and Ma. Althea Teves
NEWSBREAK

MANILA, Philippines – It was the rise of former President Joseph Estrada in Mindanao—not the corruption allegations in the C-5 road project—that cost Nacionalista Party’s Manuel Villar Jr. 4 to 8 points in the latest Pulse Asia survey.

Newsbreak’s analysis of the survey numbers showed that the C-5 controversy cannot have caused Villar’s dive because his numbers dropped only in Mindanao and were steady everywhere else.

Whatever little negative effect the road project controversy had was cushioned by Villar’s very effective political advertisements. The analysts and specialists that we interviewed supported our analysis.

The new survey shows that voters’ preference for Villar dropped from 35 points in January to 29 points in February. Liberal Party’s Benigno Aquino III regained the top spot by keeping his number at 36 points, a decrease of 1 point from January.

On the other hand, Estrada’s numbers increased to 18 in February, from 12 in January.

With an estimated 50 million voters this year, 1 statistical point is equivalent to 500,000 voters. It means Villar lost from 2 million to 4 million voters.

WHOLE RP

NCR

LUZON

VISAYAS

MINDANAO

Jan
Feb
Jan
Feb
Jan
Feb
Jan
Feb
Jan
Feb

AQUINO

37 36 38 40 37 33 41 39 33 38

VILLAR

35 29 24 24 36 31 38 38 36 19

ESTRADA

12 18 14 17 9 16 6 8 22 31

Mindanao surprise

The breakdown of survey results shows that, statistically, Villar’s numbers were steady in the National Capital Region (24 points) and the Visayas (38 points). His 5-point drop in Luzon is statistically insignificant, given the survey’s 4% margin of error in the island.

“The effect of C-5 [on NCR] may have already been reflected in our January result, since they (NCR voters) are first to get wind of any developments,” Pulse Asia executive director Ana Tabunda told Newsbreak when asked if it’s possible that the C-5 controversy had no impact on Villar’s numbers.

The C-5 controversy should have had the strongest impact on the NCR voters, who are the biggest media consumers.

Tabunda said further study of the numbers in Luzon and Visayas will be needed to explain Villar’s steady numbers.

Villar suffered the big plunge in Mindanao, where he dropped 17 points—from 36 points in January to 19 points in February. Mindanao represent a fourth of the country’s voters.)

On the other hand, Estrada gained 9 points in Mindanao, from 22 points in January to 31 points in February. (Aquino also increased by 5 points, but it’s evened out because of the 5% error margin in the island.)

“Erap regained his Mindanao votes, cutting the Mindanao support for Villar,” said Tabunda. She said Estrada was able to do this “through ads and barnstorming.”

‘Erap country’

Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who is vice president for Mindanao of Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), said that the survey is a result of the Supreme Court’s decision in January 2010 to junk the disqualification case against the former president. Rodriguez said the January survey didn’t capture this because Estrada’s political advertisements informing voters of the legal victory only came out in February.

“That is what happens when people know that Erap is going to run. They’ve come back to him. Now, he has clearly shown that he will push through with his candidacy. Walang atrasan,” Rodriguez told Newsbreak.

“Mindanao is traditionally an Erap country. In the 2001, Mindanao did not support the EDSA people power [that ousted Estrada],” Rodriguez added.

In 1998, when Estrada first run for president, he won in all regions in Mindanao.

According to PMP spokesperson Ralph Calinisan, the increase in Estrada’s ratings “comes as a no surprise,” as Estrada had fared well before in the region.

Estrada’s campaign manager, Ernesto Maceda, credits Estrada’s rise to heightened on-the-ground campaigning. Since the campaign started, Estrada had been to Mindanao only once, in Davao City.

Peace and order ads

Tabunda said that it is Estrada’s political ads on Mindanao also helped. “Watch his ads, when it comes out [on television]. He targeted an audience,” she said.

Estrada has come up with a slew of ads since the campaign period began. These ads focused on the following: stabilizing the peace and order situation in Mindanao, strengthening the agricultural sector, and cleansing the government of corruption.

Media strategists working for various candidates attributed Villar’s steady numbers in NCR, Luzon, and the Visayas to Villar’s ads.

While there were a lot of negative news against Villar because of the Senate’s debates over the C-5 controversy, they said his camp was able to match them with ads that tried to belie the allegations of corruption.

According to the January 2010 Social Weather Stations survey commissioned by the Manila Standard, news and advertisements are the biggest factors influencing Filipino voters’ preferences—49% and 45% respectively.

Two ads that kept running during the period was the testimonial of comedy king Dolphy that Villar has not put one over on anybody, and Villar’s 30-seconder where he says he’s not seeking the presidency to get richer.

“Marami pa ring naninira sa kanya. Sa pagkakakilala ko kay Manuel Villar, siya’y taong may integridad, may malasakit sa kapwa, totoong tao,” Dolphy said in the ad.

After the actor’s ad, Villar came out, pointing out that wanting to be president is part of his lifetime “panata” or vow to help those who have nothing in life. “Kung talagang gusto ko yumaman, babalik na lang ako sa pagka-negosyante.” (Newsbreak)

Camille Villar denies dad committed vote buying

Camille Villar denies dad committed vote buying
abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – The daughter of Nacionalista Party standard bearer Manny Villar denied Monday allegations her father committed vote buying when he awarded scholarships to several children during a concert organized by the party last week.

Camille Villar told ANC’s “The Rundown” that the scholarships had already been awarded on January 23 during the ABS-CBN noontime show “Wowowee.”

Villar pointed out that the awarding was done before the start of the campaign period and that the presentation of the scholars during last week’s Rockotropa Concert was just a formality.

“I was called on stage to say hi to the children. My dad was not on stage. He was there as a guest.  We just wanted to call on the children up there. We don’t believe we have violated any election laws,” Villar said.

She added that her father “always encouraged us to help as many people as we can and I think in the end that is what we did.”

The Commission on Elections earlier said Sen. Villar could be liable for vote-buying and disqualified from the presidential race for giving away scholarship grants during the Rockotropa concert.

Speaking to reporters, Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said the Omnibus Election Code bans candidates from handing out “money or anything of value.”

“The fact that there are tuition fees that would be paid for or books, clothes and even miscellaneous expenses that would be covered… that is ‘money or anything of value’,” he said.

The act of giving away scholarship grants is tantamount to vote-buying, Sarmiento said.

The Omnibus Election Code defines vote-buying as “giving, offering or promising money or anything of value” to induce anyone to vote for or against any candidate.

Senator Villar also found himself in hot water after giving away P20 dole outs to children during a campaign sortie. NP senatorial candidate Gilbert Remulla said the dole outs were simply an act of charity.

At least two presidential candidates, former defense secretary Gilbert Teodoro and former president Joseph Estrada, have defended Villar’s giving of dole outs.

In an interview with reporters, Estrada said Villar’s giving out P20 to children should not be considered a form of vote buying.

“Mga bata naman yung binibigyan nya. Hindi naman bumoboto yun, kaya hindi yun vote-buying,” he said.

The former president admitted that as public servants, it is often difficult to avoid giving money to people. He said people look up to them and often come to them asking for help.

During his campaign rally in Silay City on Monday, Estrada also gave money, this time to an elderly woman who had attended the rally.

The octogenarian was squeezing through the crowd inside the Jose Locsin cultural hall when Estrada’s campaign manager, Ernesto Maceda, caught sight of her and asked her to come closer.

Estrada shook the lady’s hand and humbly accepted when the woman offered to buss him on the cheek. Afterwards, Maceda gave P1,000 to the woman.

'Bro. Mike asked Erap to withdraw'

‘Bro. Mike asked Erap to withdraw’
By Dino Balabo
The Philippine Star

MALOLOS CITY , Philippines  – Former senator Ernesto Maceda yesterday identified El Shaddai leader Mike Velarde as the emissary of a presidential candidate who allegedly tried to persuade former President Joseph Estrada to withdraw from the presidential race.

El Shaddai spokesman Mel Robles denied yesterday that Velarde discused this directly with Estrada. A source in El Shaddai recalled a television interview wherein Velarde told Estrada “not to run.”

In an interview yesterday on radio dwIZ, Maceda did not directly identify the presidential candidate behind Velarde, but added in Filipino that “it’s easy to identify the presidential bet, because we know who was endorsed by Bro. Mike.”

Sources told The STAR that Sen. Manuel Villar was behind Velarde’s actions.

Velarde endorsed Villar and other Nacionalista Party candidates during a recent campaign rally abroad.

Sources also said that despite gaining in recent popularity surveys, Villar remains threatened by Estrada’s appeal with the masses.

Estrada’s support from the masses has not waned, re-electionist Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) said during the campaign rally in San Jose del Monte City last Wednesday night.

“I don’t believe in surveys, the campaign has just started, they are in for a surprise by May,” he said.

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, son of the former president and another senatorial bet of PMP, criticized Villar for imitating the campaign strategy of ex-President Estrada.

“There is a candidate who is imitating my father and claiming that he is also pro-poor. The candidate also imitated the color of PMP and he only lacks a moustache,” Sen. Estrada said.

He warned voters of the possible victory of Villar saying: “delikado ang Pilipino kay Villar (Filipinos will be in peril with Villar).”

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