Villar loses support among poor: survey
By Carmela Fonbuena
Erap ties NP standard-bearer for 2nd place
MANILA, Philippines—The new Pulse Asia survey conducted 2 weeks before the May 10 polls is double whammy for Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearers Senators Manuel.In the April 23-25 survey, Villar and Legarda plunged 5 points and 3 points, respectively.
With 2 points margin of error, that means Villar lost from 3 to 7 percentage points. At 500,000 voters per statistical point, the drop is equivalent to 1.5 million to 3.5 million votes.
The numbers of Liberal Party (LP) bet Senator Benigno Aquino III and Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) bet former President Joseph Estrada were steady. Their 2-point gains are within the margin error.
“We’re not really surprised that President Estrada’s ratings rose. We stuck to our strategy of going directly to the people, and they have realized that Estrada is the real leader of the poor,” said PMP spokesperson Ralph Calinisan.
“I think people are starting to realize…that Estrada is the real ally of the masses…. We’re winning back the D and E votes, which are really the Estrada votes,” said Navotas City Mayor Toby Tiangco, PMP spokesman in Metro Manila.
Aquino stays on top with 39 points. It’s 1-percentage point less than the combined numbers of Villar and Estrada, who are tied at 20 points.
Administration bet former Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. is stuck at 7 percentage points.
The undecided group is also steady at 9 percentage points. It’s equivalent to 4.5 million voters.
NP not discouraged
But NP spokesmen and senatorial candidates Adel Tamano and Gilbert Remulla said they are not discouraged by the survey results.“Five points going down is not fatal. We are very confident hahabol kami (we are going to catch up),” Tamano told abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak in a phone interview.
“There is a false perception that Noynoy is going to win. I tell you, expect some surprises. This is going to be the longest 10 days,” he said. Tamano said the NP is counting on endorsements and their local machinery to deliver votes for Villar.
Remulla also accused the survey firm of being biased against Villar. “Pulse Asia surveys have never been kind to Senator Villar from what we believe is due to its ownership structure,” he told abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak in a mobile text message.
Aquino’s first cousin, Rapa Lopa, was former president of Pulse Asia. But Lopa has divested in the survey firm since Aquino joined the presidential race.
But Villar supporter political analyst Prospero De Vera acknowledges that the new survey is bad news.
“The numbers are bad. It’s the result of a concentrated black propaganda from both Erap and Noynoy camps. The attack has been so vicious in the past few weeks,” De Vera told abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak in a phone interview.
Binay’s dramatic increase
In the vice presidential race, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay has overtaken Legarda with his dramatic increase of 9 percentage points, or the equivalent of 4.5 million voters.Binay registered 28 points compared to Legarda’s 20 points.
According to the analysis of Pulse Asia, the vice presidential race is now between Senator Manuel Roxas II of the Liberal Party and Binay. Roxas remains on top with 37 points.
But Roxas is already confident of the LP’s big win in May. “I am happy that Noynoy Aquino and I will become the next president and vice-president of this country. We pledge to pursue our commitment to reform our government so that our people can enjoy the fruits of good governance as this will result in true progress and development for all the peoples of this country,” Roxas said in a statement.
Noynoy gets poor, Erap gets Mindanao
Villar’s numbers show he is losing the support across the board—in all regional breakdowns and all socio-demographics.
|Candidates’ gains and losses|
Villar is losing to Aquino and Estrada his support base among the poor.Villar dropped 6-percentage points and 4-percentage points in classes D and E, respectively. Aquino gained 2 percentage points in Class D and 3 percentage points in Class E. Estrada gained 4 points in Class D.
The foundation of Villar’s campaign has always been his rags-to-riches story. He says that if he can get himself out of poverty, he can also do it for the rest of the Filipinos.
But this claim was put in question when various camps starting in March belied Villar’s poverty. (See Aquino joins ‘Villar is not poor’ chorus)
“Maybe the poor voters are getting confused. Probably they got confused by all these accusations,” said Villar supporter, De Vera. “Our messaging has been drowned out by negative attacks. It’s not anymore issues.”
By region, Villar is losing to Aquino his supporters in Balance Luzon and the Visayas. Estrada continues to shrink Villar’s support base in Mindanao.
In the March 2010 survey, Estrada registered a big gain in Mindanao at the expense of Villar.
Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who is vice president for Mindanao of Estrada’s PMP, said the supporters of Estrada are returning to his side after the Supreme Court’s decision in January 2010 to junk the disqualification case against him. (See Erap, not C-5, caused Villar’s survey drop)
The other candidates, including disqualified bet Vetellano Acosta, got 1 point to 3 points increases across the board.
Victim of black propaganda?
Villar’s camp said the surveys numbers are a result of a concentrated black propaganda against Villar.
“In the past few weeks, we have seen intensified black propaganda and vicious attacks from both the Erap and Aquino camps,” Remulla said.
“Jamby, si Erap, si Gordon, and the Liberal Party, they’re all hitting Manny [Villar] at the same time. There has been a flurry of negative campaigning. It’s below the belt,” Tamano added.
Among the key developments identified by Pulse Asia during the survey period are the following:
- Defections from Lakas-Kampi CMD to NP and LP
- Allegations made by Estrada and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile that while serving Senate President in 2007, Villar used his position to pressure the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) to decide in his favor on a matter concerning the public offering of his real estate company’s shares
De Vera assailed the LP camp for “concocting” the alleged “Villaroyo” alliance between President Arroyo and Villar.“All evidence show that it’s (defections from Lakas-Kampi CMD) practically equal. And they got Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, the most notorious and most loyal adviser of President Arroyo. While he joined LP, he said he is still loyal to President Arroyo. What other proof of a distorted politician is that?” De Vera said. (See Lakas-Kampi defections: ‘Villaroyo’ or ‘Gloriaquino’?)
He also challenged Estrada to file a case against Villar in allegedly exerting his pressure on the PSE. “The PSE has cleared Villar. Why don’t they file a case?” he said.
Blaming the media
De Vera also laments what he calls “media’s bias” against Villar.
“It’s the black propaganda peddled through accusations in press conferences, the media, and the SMS. These have been driving the campaign since 2 weeks ago,” De Vera said.
“The Noynoy camp has a significant advantage in the media. They are backed up by ABS-CBN. They are also backed up by columnists, who hide behind their columns. Villar doesn’t have any of this,” he said.
In a press conference on Monday, Villar’s family also blamed the media for the negative stories on Villar (See Villar’s mom: Stop picking on my son)
While Villar has dominated political advertising in television and radio, Tamano said the ads are powerless against all the attacks.
“It’s very difficult to answer all allegations. It’s not one-on-one. It’s one side versus four,” Tamano said.
Tamano said in the remaining days in the campaign period, the NP will stress their message on competence. “The real debate should be who is most competent. If we go back to that, I believe we are going to get the undecided voters,” he said.
“Our voters have shifted to the undecided and we are doing all that we can to win them back. We believe there is enough time. Once that is done, it will be back to manageable levels and our party machinery will see us to victory,” said Remulla. (abs-cbnNews.com/Newsbreak).