Jan 19, 2016


1. Sustained TV/Radio ads allow top three presidential aspirants to keep abreast of each other in another media-driven 2016 campaign;
2. Binay parlays personalized campaign into gaining early advantage in pre-poll surveys, but must watch out for the early peak syndrome;
3. Poe, Roxas in statistical tie but more work needed to catch up with Binay; Quality and caliber of campaign team will define who will cross the finish line first;
4. It could be Chiz and Bongbong for the VP race unless Leni and Samahang Tsinelas gains ground;
5. Doubts on integrity of automated polls remain;
6. High satisfaction rating of top government execs towards the end of six-year term surprises analysts.
     The results of the latest non-commissioned Pulso ng Pilipino survey conducted by the Issues and Advocacy Center has sustained previous claims it made that the scheduled synchronized polls on May 9, 2016 will be a media-driven campaign with television, radio and print advertisements emerging as the most preferred medium employed by national candidates to put their respective political agenda across.
     In its survey conducted from Jan. 8 to 14, 2016 and using a new methodology called Random Direct Dial, the responses from registered voters who are eligible to vote in the May 9 automated polls and cutting across all demographic sectors, the results will show that the decision-making process of Filipino voters can be enhanced and influenced by the outpouring of information supplied by the national candidates through the different types of media platforms such as newspapers in both broadsheets and tabloids, television and radio and social media.
     Ed M. Malay, head of the Issues and Advocacy Center, also said the rather high margin of error of 2.5% that they have adopted is due to the volatile character of the Filipino voters which makes it difficult to cull an accurate representation of the political environment in view of the pending cases for disqualification involving two of the presidential candidates.
     The Pulso ng Pilipino survey for the period in review shows that VICE PRESIDENT JEJOMAR BINAY (30%) has widened his lead over rivals SEN. GRACE POE LLAMANZARES (22%) who is now in a statistical tie with former DILG SEC. MAR ROXAS (22%) (See Table 2)
     The strategic placements of the advertisements on television and on radio allowed both Poe and Roxas to generate the needed amount of perceptibility support by gaining approval from among the 22% of those who were polled by Pulso ng Pilipino who among the 10 presidential candidates will they vote for in case the elections are held today.
     The ratings of VP Binay is a different case scenario that continues to baffle the arm-chair political analysts and it would seem that the negative publicity arising from the series of Senate hearings did not even dampen the enthusiasm of the voters for the diminutive Vice President. The Center has a ready explanation for what it calls a political puzzle because the Senate hearings at the very least should have cut Binay down to size but it didn’t.
     Why and how come? The answer is simple. While the Blue Ribbon sub-committee was busy trying to reduce Binay to pieces, the Vice President doggedly stomped the political campaign field going to places and localities that no other presidential aspirant has ever set foot on. Never does a day pass that Binay is not out there in the field, preferring to stay in the homes of his political leaders rather than check into the comforts of hotels in areas he is campaigning. It actually doesn’t matter whether the charges against Binay are true or not.
     The survey ratings of the Vice President actually show that the people doubt the actual intent of the Senate hearings and many are drawn to deduce that these are indeed politically motivated. The fact that the Senate hearings still have to be wrapped up and that no formal charges have been filed only sustains the allegations that the hearings are merely meant to cut Binay’s seeming advantage.
     On the other hand, Sen. Grace Poe who shot to the top of the ratings after she launched her presidential drive and organizing her own “Walang Maiiwan sa Gobyernong May Puso” to be the vehicle of her campaign has actually very little ground to stand on except her affinity to the late cinema king Fernando Poe Jr. when she entered the political scene in 2013. And it is largely due to the popularity of the late action king that Ms. Poe was elected to the Senate with the largest number of votes in the history of Philippine elections.
     Her popularity stood still at the top for a while before it started plummeting as a result of the controversy surrounding her nationality and questions regarding her residency status. And as the campaign progresses, it also became evident that the Filipino voters appears to have awaken from their stupor and or, may have become more discerning with the advent of social media that voters now look beyond just popularity and are in search of quality and caliber.
     Primarily, what may have affected her campaign are the controversies that continue to hound her and unless she can prove her nationality beyond any reasonable doubt and her residency status, she will be regarded as too raw for the highest elective position in the land especially when her credentials and qualifications come under review.
     But Senator Poe may have an ace up her sleeve when the official campaign period finally gets off the ground. We have it on good source that she is putting the finishing touches to a broad-based economic and livelihood support fund that will help empower the ordinary Filipino household into becoming a productive enterprise.
      On the part of Roxas, the surge from a single-digit rating six months ago to a respectable 22% may have been brought about by the campaign organization that the Liberal Party has set up and the alliances it has forged on the ground with other political parties and aggrupation. Roxas’ campaign will continue to be hampered by the increasing criticism for his continuing support for “Daang Matuwid.” As instances of graft and corruption are brought to fore, the Daang Matuwid has been criticized and as critics demonize the administration many fear that the Daang Matuwid may spell the defeat of Roxas at the polls.
     What the critics may be forgetting is the fact is the Daang Matuwid should not be blamed for whatever corruption there may be in government. The Daang Matuwid is a slogan for a program intended to establish a government in which corruption will be held to a minimum. If there will arise some government executives who will go against the grain of honesty and accountability, then it is not the fault of the Daang Matuwid but of the person in position. The problem is that except for a few, President Benigno Simeon Aquino III refuses to fire those involved in these shenanigans.    
     That said, Roxas who I believe is peaking at the right time will most likely improve in his ratings especially when the official campaign period starts on February 10. Remember too that except for the controversies thrown at him, Roxas can be regarded as the most qualified among the presidential candidates having served in the House of Representatives, Senate, and the Executive Department not to mention that he is part of the big business conglomerate that operates the Araneta Center in Cubao. In other words, Roxas boasts of the tools needed to perform the job of President of the Philippines.
     Unless Binay pads up his 8% lead over his closest pursuers to a double-digit lead, the Pulso ng Pilipino shows that the 54 million voters have not really made up their minds yet and have not firmed up their choices as to who they will vote for on May 9, 2016 sustaining once again the assumption made by Pulso ng Bayan that this year’s election for the top two national positions will go down the wire and the candidate who has a well-organized political machinery will enjoy the advantage when the voters go to the polls on May 9.
     Although Pulso ng Pilipino did not measure the depth of public opinion in its latest survey, there is a very strong possibility that the public for some reason may have also acquired the ability to dissect which of the information they receive and or fed to them through the various forms of media are legitimate issues and which are political propaganda and it is also possible that the Senate hearings, with regards to nationality and residency and, the violent attacks on social media, may have actually worked in favor of all three candidates – Binay, Poe and Roxas.
     Mayor Rodrigo Duterte (20%) is also starting to move up in the rankings after his campaign ran roughshod over the “cussing the Pope” controversy and other issues relative his character as a person. But just as in the case of Erap Estrada, there is a chance the Filipino voters will overlook these negative attributes and will be attracted to the tough-talking Hizzoner of Davao City who promises to stamp out graft and corruption and criminality.
     But his methods do not sit well with the Church and the international human rights groups and even with the Philippine military who disdain Duterte’s alliances with the New People’s Army many of whom have been recruited to form the deadly Davao Death Squad. All these notwithstanding, Duterte takes pride in Davao as one of the safest places to live in where speed limits within the city is pegged at 30km/h, where firecrackers are banned and, where smoking in public places is strictly prohibited.
     Overall, Duterte stands on peace and order and a graft-free government as the centerpiece of the government that he plans to put in place in the event he is elected on May 9, 2016.
                   VICE PRESIDENTIAL RACE (See Table 3)
      In the vice presidential contest, SEN. CHIZ ESCUDERO (29%) jumped to an early lead at the beginning of the unofficial campaign for the vice presidency last year but saw his lead clipped by the surging popularity of SEN. BONGBONG MARCOS (26%) who have generated a lot of following from his firm stance in reviewing the disadvantageous portions of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which would have decimated the Philippine territory into pockets of mini-republics.
     What will probably affect the campaign of Escudero is the fact that there are three candidates coming from the Bicol region – SEN. GRINGO HONASAN who is in partnership with Vice President Binay and REP. LENI ROBREDO (17%) who is running in tandem with Mar Roxas.
     If reports prove to be true, Marcos enjoys the advantage of being backed by the 6-million strong Regions 1 and 2 and Leyte provinces while Sorsogon where Escudero comes from has only about 425,025 voters as of last count. Of the provinces in Region V, Camarines Sur boasts of more than 1-million votes but this is where Leni Robredo comes from and the legacy left behind by the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo is something that cannot just be ignored.
     With a good four months to go before the May 9, 2016, the Pulso ng Pilipino sees a three-way fight among Escudero, Marcos and Robredo and the key to victory will depend on how the command votes will play out. As with the presidential contest, the race to the vice presidency is also a mad dash to generating support from political groups outside of the known bailiwicks of Escudero, Marcos and Robredo.
     Though there have been persistent attempts to continue to demonize the administration of the late President Ferdinand Marcos the fact that none of the cases filed against the Marcos has prospered only shows that these allegations stand on sandy soil. At the same time, the young Marcos has proven to be an able legislator especially with the way he handled the public hearings relative to the BBL.
     Marcos will also be remembered as the first provincial executive who pioneered in the use of alternative energy when his administration adopted the use of wind turbines at Bangui, Ilocos Norte to generate electricity. The now famous Bangui windmills was years ahead in the application of alternative sources of energy as it is only now that the government has started adopting different forms of alternative sources of energy.
     Of late, there have also been questions as to what happened to the Philippines after 30 years. The EDSA People Power Revolt of 1986 and also in 2001 were supposed to institute reforms which would have restored the lost glory of what the Philippines was, but what happened?
     But don’t count Leni Robredo out just yet. With indefatigable strength and perseverance, Robredo has gone to the length and breadth of the archipelago displaying her unique brand of campaigning – that of making the people feel that she is one of them. With a very capable parallel group to backstop her campaign, expect the figures of Robredo to climb to within reach of Escudero and Marcos. In the end, the Pulso ng Pilipino sees the vice presidential election to be a toss-up between Marcos and Robredo.
            SENATORIAL PRE-POLL SURVEY (See Table 4)
     Another proof that the May 9, 2016 national polls will be a media-driven campaign is the way that SEN. VICENTE ‘TITO’ SOTTO III (60%) holds sway in the senatorial race. With nary a significant bill to his credit over the past six years, Sotto remains as the most favored candidate who can be reelected in the coming political exercise with some 60% of respondents saying they will vote for Sotto of “Eat Bulaga fame” if the elections are held today.
     Former Sen. PANFILO LACSON (53%) is in second with former Sen. KIKO PANGILINAN (49%) in third. Tied for fourth to fifth place are Senators RALPH RECTO and FRANK DRILON with identical (45%). SEN. SERGE OSMENA III and comebacking former Sen. MIGZ ZUBIRI registered (42%) apiece at sixth to seventh places. Former Justice Sec. LEILA DE LIMA is alone at eight spot with (39%) while SEN. TEOFISTO ‘TG’ GUINGONA and former Sen. RICHARD GORDON are in ninth to tenth place with (35%). Rounding up the Top 12 are REP. EMMANUEL PACQUIAO, Manila VICE MAYOR ISKO MORENO and former REP. RISA HONTIVEROS with (29%) and in eleventh to thirteenth positions.
     Those with a probable chance of still getting into the Top 12 are: Former MMDA Chairman FRANCIS TOLENTINO. REP. SHERWIN GATCHALIAN, former TESDA DIR. GEN. JOEL VILLANUEVA with similar 21%. Leyte REP. MARTIN ROMUALDEZ is still in good position with 19% while celebrity EDU MANZANO has 18%.
                    IN COMING POLLS; BUT DOUBTS
                    ON AUTOMATED POLLS REMAIN
     A great majority of the respondents also said their decision may be influenced by advertising placements in the different forms of media platforms particularly print, radio and television and respondents said advertising will have an impact on the way they will vote. Thus, victory in the 2010 national elections will be dependent to a large extent on how these advertisements will be strategically placed and the mediums used. (See Table 5)
      On the issue of the Automated Election System (AES), the Pulso ng Pilipino survey showed that while there is a high 95% of awareness from among the voters as to the Automated Election system (AES) and 89% claim they have knowledge on how to go through the AES while 6% says they have little knowledge about the AES and 5% say they have no knowledge at all about the AES. Significantly, while 49% said they trust the integrity of the PCOS machines, the AES suffers from a negative perceptibility with a high 40% saying they doubt its accuracy (27%) and 13% said they trust the system and 11% said they don’t know.

                                    EXECS BAFFLE ANALYSTS
     Though the high trust ratings (See Table 1) accorded the country’s top five government officials has surprised political analysts, the more telling scenario is that the people have become passive and oblivious to the performance of the country’s ranking executives. This could only mean that the people simply don’t care anymore about how their leaders perform or are performing and it seems that the people just go through their day-to-day preoccupation without any concern as to how their lives are impacted by the performance of the government.
     This indifference of the people is actually more pervasive in the rural areas where life goes about with the people more concerned about how to put food on their table than how their leaders function. In other words, this tendency to be generous with their perception of the country’s leaders comes from the resiliency of the Filipino people who are imbued with the strength and perseverance to survive even the hardest of times leaving it to fate rather than place their state of life in the shoulders of their leaders.
     Political groups and organizations who have their own preferences have started organizing their own political combinations and strange as it may seem, it appears that the coming May 9, 2016 national elections will turn out as exciting as ever. Following are some of the combinations that are being organized and these are supported up by solid financial backers. Besides the RO-RO (Roxas Robredo) and the BI-HON (Binay Honasan) tandems, interesting combinations are:
                               BIBO (BINAY BONGBONG)
                    AROMA (ALYANSANG ROXAS MARCOS)
                                   BINCHI (BINAY CHIZ)
                                  MARCHIZ (MAR CHIZ)
                               BIRO (BINAY ROBREDO)