Tag archive for "May 2010 election"

TOO CLOSE TO CALL

Politics

TOO CLOSE TO CALL

1 Comment 10 March 2010

It’s a very tight two-man contest for the presidency, according to the latest survey.

Going into the last two months the campaign, Liberal Party standard bearer Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III maintained a two-digit lead over closest rival, Sen.  Manuel Villar Jr. of the Nacionalista Party.

The latest survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) from Feb. 24 to 28 showed Aquino’s lead down to only 2 percentage points, with Aquino at 36% and Villar at 34%. (See related story – Tracking the Numbers.)

“We’re saying it’s a 2-point lead [in the latest survey],” said SWS president Mahar Mangahas. “We’re not calling it a tie. To say that it is a tie is to lean toward one side. So we’re not calling it a tie unless it is the exact same point.”

He said the correct way of interpreting the results of the latest survey is that, given the margin of error of 2%,  it’s either a statistical tie or that Aquino has a 4-percentage-point lead.

But what is clear, he added, is that there has been a consistent decline in support for Aquino based on the four presidential surveys conducted by SWS from December 5-10, 2009 to February 24-28 2010.

Aquino’s lead over Villar was 19 points in December 5-10, 2009, 11 points in December 27-28, 2009, 7 points in January 21-24, 2010, and 2 points in February 24-28.

Other contenders

Trailing the front-runners were former President Joseph Estrada (15 percent, up 2 points), former Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro (6 percent, also up 2 points), Bro. Eddie Villanueva (3 percent, up 1 point), Sen. Richard Gordon (2 percent, no change), Nicanor Perlas (0.2 percent), Olongapo Councilor JC de los Reyes (0.1 percent) and Sen. Jamby Madrigal (0.1 percent).

SWS said the 6-point decline in Aquino’s rating since January was due to drops in all four areas across the country: 7 points in the balance of Luzon, 6 in Mindanao, 5 in the Visayas, and 3 in Metro Manila.

Villar lost 6 percentage points in Metro Manila, 2 in the balance of Luzon, and one in Mindanao, but picked up 5 in the Visayas to trim his overall slide to just 1 point.

By socioeconomic class, Aquino was ahead in Class D (38 percent compared with Villar’s 34 percent), while Villar was ahead in Classes ABC (33 percent compared with Aquino’s 30 percent) and Class E (34 percent versus Aquino’s 32 percent).

Pulse Asia survey

Meanwhile, the most recent survey of another polling firm, Pulse Asia, showed Aquino leading Villar by 7 percentage points. In the Pulse Asia’s survey, conducted on Feb. 21-25, Villar rated 29 percent, down by six percentage points from the Jan. 10 survey. In contrast, Aquino held on to 36 percent, down by one percentage point from the previous survey.

Explaining the different results of the Pulse Asia and SWS surveys, political analyst Ramon Casiple said it could be an indication of voters’ “wild swings.”

“There are wild swings among the voters, and there are only a few undecided. They have somebody in mind, but their choice is affected by issues that come out in the media. That’s why the trending is not fixed,” said Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms.

He said the voters had a “deep interest” in the presidential election and were closely monitoring the news coming out in the media about the candidates.

“You may have a lead, but it does not necessarily mean that this will be maintained. But it appears that it’s a one-on-one between the two,” Casiple said of Aquino and Villar.

Vice presidential race

In the latest SWS survey for the vice presidential race, Aquino’s running mate Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II maintained his wide lead over nearest rival Sen. Loren Legarda, running mate of Villar.

Roxas garnered 45 percent, a drop of 4 percentage points from the January survey. Legarda remained at 28 percent.

Other vice presidential candidates did not gain substantially. Trailing were Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay (17 percent), former Metro Manila Development Authority chair Bayani Fernando (3 percent), former Optical Media Board chair Edu Manzano (2 percent), broadcaster Jay Sonza (1 percent), former Securities and Exchange Commission chief Perfecto Yasay (0.4 percent), and Dominador Chipeco (0.4 percent).

Aquino upbeat

Despite his slide, Aquino remained upbeat. “I’m still No. 1, but it doesn’t mean we’re satisfied with that. The tightening race means that we’d just have to redouble our efforts,” he said.

Aquino said that getting ahead of his rivals despite what he called a “tsunami” of political ad and media spending by Villar was in itself an achievement. (See related story – Money and the Presidency.)

“I think our message is getting to its target audience despite our lack of resources. We just make it up with our campaigns and grassroots volunteers,” said the LP standard-bearer.

LP campaign strategist Florencio “Butch” Abad Jr. said Villar had failed to overtake Aquino in the surveys despite exceeding the limit on ad spending.

Villar happy

For his part, Villar said: “We are statistically tied,” referring to the SWS survey.

“As for me, I am comfortable with my lead and, of course, we still look to Noynoy (as a close rival) although we respect all the candidates. However, (Estrada’s) distance (or lead) from us is still far,” Villar said.

He said he was happy that “surveys have confirmed that we are responding to the hopes of the people across the country.”

He attributed the rise in his ratings to the frenetic pace of his campaign sorties across the country since Feb. 9.

“Of course, the others who are (trailing in surveys), we expect them to get more points now because of their wider exposure,” Villar said.

Estrada elated

Estrada expressed elation over his rising rating. He said that if his numbers continued to go up at the rate they were going, he would have a high-enough rating to win come May.

“It’d be over for them,” Estrada said.” In 1998, I started in third place. It’s hard to be No. 1. It’s more difficult (to start) from the top (and then) going down, isn’t it?”

The camp of Teodoro welcomed his slight improvement in rating. “We’re gaining ground right in time for the presidential elections in May,” said Mike Toledo, spokesperson for Teodoro.

Gordon wondered how a small sample of respondents could accurately represent more than 50 million voters across the country. He warned against the mind-conditioning effects of the surveys.

Madrigal said she did not believe in surveys. “Unless and until these survey groups clarify who are funding them and what their methodology is, there will always be a cloud of doubt on their accuracy,” she said.

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MONEY AND THE PRESIDENCY

Politics

MONEY AND THE PRESIDENCY

1 Comment 07 March 2010

By Randy David

In more ways than one, Noynoy Aquino, Manny Villar and Erap Estrada—the current front-runners in the 2010 presidential race—represent the three distinct faces of Philippine politics. Aquino draws heavily from the charisma of his illustrious parents. Villar banks on the power of his personal wealth. And Estrada continues to rely on his movie hero charm. They also embody, respectively, the three dominant institutions that shape political fortunes in our society: the family, the economy, and the mass media. Each one of them brings to politics a different kind of admission ticket—lineage for Noynoy, purchasing power for Manny, and star appeal for Erap. READ FULL STORY.

IN PHOTO: Manny Villar

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AUTOMATED POLLS A DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN

Current Affairs

AUTOMATED POLLS A DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN

No Comments 29 January 2010

By Aries Rufo

The automated 2010 national elections is a potential disaster waiting to happen, with all the explosive ingredients in it, a political risk consultancy group said. Echoing the fears of critics, the Asia-based Pacific Strategies and Assessment (PSA) said “there are simply too many potential human, procedural and/or technical breakdowns that could lead to a major disruption or most drastically a complete failure of the May 2010 elections.” READ FULL STORY.

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GLORIA’S GAMBIT

Politics

GLORIA’S GAMBIT

No Comments 24 January 2010

By Leandro Milan

Claiming public service was “emblazoned on my DNA (genetic fingerprint),” President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo stunned the nation when she declared on Nov. 30 that she was running for Congress in the coming elections. She said she would remain in her post even after she had filed her certificate of candidacy.

Her announcement was welcomed by her most ardent supporters but condemned by her critics, who accused her plotting to extend her hold on power as a way to escape criminal prosecution when she steps down from the presidency. When her term expires on June 30, 2010, Mrs. Arroyo, 62, shall have served as president for nine and a half years (three and a half years are from Joseph Estrada’s unfinished term), making her the second-longest serving Philippine leader after the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled for more than 20 years. According to surveys, she is the most unpopular leader the country has had since Marcos was booted out in 1986.

Mrs. Arroyo said her decision to seek a congressional post was due to her desire to continue serving and to heed what she called a “clamor” by her province mates for her to serve them. “After much contemplation, I realized I’m not ready to step down completely from public service,” she said on the government-run Radyo ng Bayan.

This is the first time that a President is running for a lower position, an idea that no one thought would ever happen. Even the framers of the Constitution failed to consider this scenario. Section 4 of Article VII of the 1987 Constitution states, “The President shall not be eligible for any re-election.” But the Charter is silent on whether the President could run again for a lower position.

Weekly visits

While Mrs. Arroyo’s announcement maybe shocking, even shameless, to some, it was not completely surprising. During the past year, she has made 47 visits to the second district of Pampanga (18 of them to her hometown Lubao). This translates to nearly one trip a week. During her visits, she would be accompanied by staff from various government agencies and give away free PhilHealth cards, seedlings, medicines and cash for microfinance projects. Acting on the requests of barangay leaders, she would order the construction and repair of schools, roads, health centers, canals and dikes. To her cabalen, the presidential largesse is like manna from heaven.

On Nov. 28, two days before the President’s announcement, the President’s elder son, Pampanga 2nd District Representative Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, led a contingent of over 200 mayors, barangay captains and other local officials of Pampanga in a call on his mother in Malacañang.

“My dear mother, in your decision-making, my sentiments must be taken as inconsequential,” Mikey said in his speech. “My political future must be brought to the back seat because as public servants, we have sworn to give our all to our country. . . Madame President, I believe that the best service I can give to my constituents, whom I’ve grown to love so much, is urging you not to deny them the privilege of being represented by your person.” Mikey is eligible to seek reelection but is giving way to his mother.

The congressman noted the steady stream of farmers, fisherfolk, businessmen and civic leaders trooping to the Palace “to express their desire that they be given the privilege of being represented by … a stateswoman with the stature of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.” On Nov. 27, some 200 leaders from farming and fishing communities, as well as representatives from cooperatives and business organizations from the second district of Pampanga presented the President with a manifesto urging her to run in 2010.

Where’s delicadeza?

Up against three unknowns, the President is a sure winner in the congressional race. There is near unanimity in the belief that there are no legal impediments to the President running for Congress. But this did not deter Akbayan Rep. Rissa Hontiveros from filing before the Commission on Elections a petition to disqualify Mrs. Arroyo from running in Pampanga. Hontiveros argued that the President, by refusing to vacate her post after filing her candidacy for Congress, will be violating the constitutional provision regarding “equal protection of the law.”

“As current President, she has all the powers and resources as well as access to it that will definitely prejudice the chances of any opposing candidate in any electoral competition against her,” Hontiveros said.

But beyond the legalities, there are those who question her decision on moral grounds. Pampanga Auxiliary Bishop Pablo Virgilio David said Mrs. Arroyo should forsake her plans “in the name of decency and for the sake of propriety.”

“I’d appeal to her not to run and to respect the spirit of the Constitution instead of exploiting the letter of the law, which indeed does not categorically prohibit running for lower positions,” David said.

Fr. Joaquin Bernas, an expert on constitutional law and a member of the 1987 Constitutional Commission, shared David’s sentiment. “We never thought the President would be humble. If I were her, I would not seek a lower office,” he said.

Bernas, dean emeritus of the Ateneo College of Law, admitted there were no legal obstacles to stop Mrs. Arroyo should she decide to run for representative. “Now, delicadeza ibang bagay yan,” Bernas told reporters.

Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz said the framers of the Constitution did not think of imposing a ban on an outgoing president running for a lower office simply because “really there is no person in his or her sound mind who will do such a funny and demeaning political circus.”

Bishop David’s older brother, UP Professor Randy David, who backed out from his earlier plan to challenge Mrs. Arroyo, noted: “There are areas of social behavior where there are no explicit laws because in many instances, the existing custom, the existing sense of shame and sensitivity to what is regarded as decent or what we call delicadeza are deemed sufficient to keep people in line. You don’t need specific laws.”

Circuitous route to the top

Most of the President’s critics – from the political oppositon to Church, business and civic leaders – however believe her decision to run for Congress is just the first step to her aspirations to regain power. This is how they paint the grim scenario: she will aspire to become Speaker of the House of Representatives, then move to amend the Constitution to allow for a shift to a parliamentary form of government, and finally crown herself prime minister.

Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, running mate of Liberal Party standard-bearer Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, said, “Her ultimate goal is to become House Speaker and ram through her burning desire to change the Constitution. Since she cannot hope to beat Noynoy, her next best option is to render his victory useless and lead the change in the form of government.”

United Opposition president and Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay voiced the same fears. “The real agenda is to … shift to a parliamentary form of government and snatch power from whoever is elected president in 2010 by becoming prime minister and head of government,” said Binay, who is the running mate of former President Joseph Estrada.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo said he suspected Mrs. Arroyo would finance the candidacies of many administration allies so that she could control majority of the House if she won.

According to them, it is only by regaining power as prime minister could she escape the deluge of suits that await her – from plunder to human rights abuses – after she steps down as president.

Unfounded fears

But Sen. Joker Arroyo, an on-and-off critic and ally of the President, dismisses the fears. He believes Mrs. Arroyo can never be prime minister.

“She is now very weak. She has no political clout; what more if she is only a congresswoman?” the senator asked. “She can never be prime minister because we have to amend first the Constitution. Since she cannot amend it, no way.”

He continued: “How can she succeed as speaker—she cannot do that—because the speaker of the next House will be the choice of whoever is the President. . . Chances are there will be no President that will support that—Noynoy won’t, Villar won’t, Erap won’t and even Teodoro won’t,” he said, referring to presidential candidates Benigno Aquino, Manuel Villar, Joseph Estrada and Gilbert Teodoro.

Senator Arroyo‘s observation was echoed by the Philippine Daily Inquirer. In its editorial last Dec. 2, the daily wrote: “In truth, however, and given the political realities, it will be difficult for a rookie representative, even a former president, to drive Charter change from a seat in the chamber. We have raised the threshold question before: If she could not effect a revision of the Constitution while she served as president, how can Ms Arroyo reasonably expect to change the Constitution as merely one of over 250 congressmen?”

Indeed, it is worth noting that Mrs. Arroyo’s allies in the House have tried vainly to ram through various proposals to amend the Constitution during the past two to three years. The influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has already made it known that while it was open to a constitutional amendment in the past, it is now rethinking its position if such a move would be used to perpetuate “a few people” in power.

In the 15th Congress, Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will be joined by three other Arroyos: youngest son Camarines Sur 1st District Rep. Diosdado “Dato” Macapagal Arroyo; brother-in-law Negros Occidental 5th District Rep. Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo; and sister-in-law Ang Kasangga party-list Rep. Ma. Lourdes Arroyo. There are reports that Mikey Arroyo will be joining a party-list group so he can possibly stay in the House of Representatives.

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