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A view on the latest poll survey

The perceptible surge of Sen. Manuel B. Villar in the presidential race has, somehow, been stalled. Better still for the Liberal Party, whose bet is locked in as his closest contender, Villar's new converts, names that would have indicated the start of an otherwise irreversible gathering of his speed to the electoral finish line, have been the very same factors slowing down his momentum. This is my reading of the latest Pulse Asia survey results released the other day.

Background. If the elections were held in the last quarter of 2009, Sen. Beningno Aquino III, would have been the runaway winner. To recall, Noynoy was pushed to the limelight, not by the welter of his absent accomplishments, but by the permeating sob on the millions of Filipinos who mourned the death of his beloved mother. In a manner of speaking, our emotional attachment to the late past lady President Cory, (and, to a certain extent, the indelible memory of a prostrate white-clad Ninoy on the tarmac of the then Manila International Airport), raised the reluctant hope that the son had to be the anointed heir of Malacañang.

However, after reaching incredible peaks of poll charts, Sen. Aquino III, had nowhere else to go but down. As our mourning over the death of Tita Cory subsided, we started to wrestle objectively our clamor for her son to become president with the awesome demands of being head of state. It was then that we began to consider other aspirants.

In due time, we examined the impeccable credentials of former Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro. We followed "Gibo" wherever forum he stood and marveled at his eloquence and the clarity of his vision. For a while, many judged him to be the best prepared for the presidency, until, despite his "galing and talino", he floundered in the vast sea of questions centered on his unexplained future commitments to Her Excellency, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo when her term ends in June this year.

We also looked in the direction of Ex President Joseph Estrada. His audacity to run for president again was extremism personified. At most, it was infectious to his remaining loyal forces. On the part of those who felt he has become passé, his bid evoked only a sense of pity, to say the least. Just the same, we had to subject his boisterous claim to restore his abortive leadership upon the realistic yardstick of his integrity tarnished by conviction of a court of law.

The surge. We then stared at Sen. Villar. When the campaign for national office opened, his political machinery caught our attention. He was first to hang streamers even in the more remote regions and painted most part of our country orange. His infomercials, (an apparently new coinage for political advertisement), continued without letup to tell us where he came from and more importantly, where he wanted to lead us.

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Perhaps, repetition being effective, many were swayed. More, as evidenced by his leap up in the pollsters charts, gravitated towards his candidacy. The surge came in the form of local political kingpins starting to tow his line. Most of them carried earlier the Lakas-Kampi-CMD tag of Malacañang

   To his opponents, Villar's increasing march was alarming. It had to be stalled before it could steamroll into an insurmountable bandwagon. But, how?

 Spin movers had to use "fear factor". They came up with the "Villaroyo". There is a perception that many of our people fear the continued stay of our president in power. That plausibility could be achieved by ensuring that the next president would be friendly to her.

So, using the names of Mindanao's Zubiri, Ilocos' Singson and Cebu's Soon-Ruiz, who started to rally behind the leadership of Villar, propagandists wove the story that these politicians turned coats because they got marching orders of the president to support a "secret bet" in Villar. Naturally, people, fearful of the lengthening influence of the president, reacted. They would not want to be aligned with someone carrying the blessings of the palace.

That was the very objective of the sinister propaganda called "Villaroyo". While it was not honorable, it succeeded. Our fear of the president's shadow made us gobble the propaganda hook, line and sinker. And this we showed in our responses to the latest Pulse Asia survey.

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