'Villaroyo' tag may have hurt Villar: Pulse Asia chief
Binay in 'virtual tie' with Loren for 2nd in VP race
MANILA, Philippines – Allegations of a possible secret alliance between President Gloria Arroyo and Nacionalista Party (NP) presidential candidate Sen. Manny Villar may have had an impact on the latter’s declining survey ratings, aside from other possible factors, Pulse Asia president Prof. Ronnie Holmes said Tuesday.
In an interview on ANC's Dateline Philippines, Holmes said that except for Villar, virtually all of the presidential candidates had unchanged preference ratings in the March 21-28 Pulse Asia survey. (Read: Villar falls 4 points; Aquino, Erap, Gibo steady: Pulse Asia)
“There were the repeated, reiterated allegations that there is some form of an arrangement, an alliance, modus vivendi between Arroyo and Senator Villar, which, of course, Senator Villar has already dispelled. Those are things that you should note down. Whether it has impact on preferences, of course, our surveys will not be able to directly associate them. But you do have those accusations and allegations,” Holmes said.
He added: “These are events that you cannot in any way dismiss. They may impact on initial preferences for support for a particular candidate. They may even repel support for candidates who actually issued those allegations.”
The March 21 to 28 survey showed Aquino got 37% support followed by Villar with 25%, former President Joseph Estrada with 18%, administration bet Gilbert Teodoro with 7%, Sen. Richard Gordon with 2%, and Bro. Eddie Villanueva with 3%.
Aquino's rating was statistically the same as in the February 21-25 survey while Villar dropped by 4 percentage points. Villar's drop allowed Aquino to widen his lead over Villar from 7 points in February to 12 points in March 21 to 28.
Estrada was steady at 18%, and Teodoro also failed to get more support with 7%, the same level as in February.
The latest survey was done with 3,000 adult respondents with a margin of error of plus/minus 2%. A sample ballot "that is a facsimile of the COMELEC official ballot" was used for the survey.
Tamano: Black propaganda working
Holmes said the survey period covered the first 3 days of the local campaign period, which started on March 26. It also covered the defections of key Lakas-Kampi-CMD leaders such as former Ilocos Sur governor Luis “Chavit” Singson and Bukidnon Gov. Jose Zubiri to Villar, which triggered talk of an alliance between Villar and Arroyo.
For his part, Nacionalista Party (NP) spokesman Adel Tamano admitted that black propaganda, particularly the “Villaroyo” (Villar+Arroyo) tag being hurled by Liberal Party, has begun to affect their campaign.
He added, however, that the NP will continue to work harder in the next 5 weeks to beat Aquino’s lead and win the elections.
“I think as the issues become clearer to the people, we are going to rise above all this mudslinging and I think after we do that, we will regain whatever we have lost and God willing, surpass and get the number 1 slot,” he said.
Undecided voters rise to 9%
Holmes, meanwhile, said the start of the local campaign period could still make an impact on the candidates’ survey ratings 5 weeks before the May 10 polls.
He said that for the past month, national candidates have increased their number of campaign sorties in the provinces to consolidate support and make use of their local allies.
“This will be a test of how much collaboration and how much support each of the candidates can swing from their local counterparts or supporters,” he said.
Holmes also noted that there was a marginal increase in the level of indecision of voters, from 6% in February to 9% in March.
“This is double the lowest indecision that we recorded in prior pre-election surveys, which was about 4%,” he said. “This may indicate that to a certain extent, some people may not necessarily be expressing [their preference] for president or national candidate for one reason or another.”
Loren’s ratings declining
Holmes said the March 21 to 28 survey also noted marginal shifts in the ratings of the vice-presidential candidates.
He said Sen. Manuel "Mar" Roxas II kept a comfortable 20 percentage-point lead over closest rival, Sen. Loren Legarda. He had 43% support while Legarda got 23%.
The Pulse Asia president said Legarda’s ratings fell by 4 percentage points, from 27% in February to 23% in March 21 to 28.
On the other hand, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay continued to improve in the surveys, gaining 4 percentage points from 15% in February to 19% in March 21 to 28.
“This would indicate certain shifts but they are still within the survey to survey margins of error…Historically, however, you can see that from January to February and February to March, there's been a marginal increase on the part of Mayor Binay, which is the opposite of what we see for Sen. Legarda. She had a marginal decline in January to February and February to March,” he said.
He noted that the latest survey ratings have already placed Legarda and Binay at a virtual tie “if you put in the margin of error of plus/minus 2%.”
The rest of the vice-presidential candidates--Bayani Fernando (3%), Edu Manzano (2%), Perfecto Yasay (1%), Jay Sonza (0.5%), Dominador Chipeco (0.1%)--did not improve their survey ratings.