FIRST PERSON - Alex Magno - The Philippine Star

Finally, the SWS released its more “normal” voter preference survey — but not before Edgar Erice and his LP chorus made fools of themselves spinning wildly the misleading tally of SWS’ earlier “pick three” survey and forecasting Roxas would soon overtake Poe.

About two weeks ago, Erice and his desperate gang announced the outcome of a “secret” LP survey that shows their standard-bearer leading the race by a mile. We do not know the provenance of the numbers Erice dumped on the public. What is clear is that it does not cohere with the general trend produced by the more verifiable polling exercises.

Shortly after Erice announced his bizarre numbers showing Roxas garnering well over a majority of the tally, RMN radio network released the results of its own nationwide poll. The RMN numbers showed Binay to be actually leading in voter preference – although at 26% to Poe’s 25%, it was really a statistical tie.

The second set of SWS numbers replicates the trend detected by the previous RMN poll. Taken in the first week of September, the SWS numbers still show Poe and Binay in a statistical tie, 26% and 24% respectively.

The latest SWS numbers show Roxas improved his share significantly to 20%. But that still puts him firmly at third place, notwithstanding his lavish spending on political advertising timed to coincide with the period the poll was taken.

It is significant to note that Duterte’s share deteriorated to only 11%. This survey could finally determine his final decision about seeking the highest office in the land. Bongbong Marcos’ share remained at 4% and Joseph Estrada’s share fell to 3%.

In the voter preference for vice-president, Poe commands the pack with 27% with Francis Escudero (now Poe’s running-mate) holding an impressive 20%. Duterte enjoys 9% support for the second highest post while Bongbong enjoys a much-better 7% rating. Leni Robredo, under intense pressure from the LP to be Roxas’ running-mate rates 3%.

If we do a “poll of polls,” as CNN does for US elections, we should be able to detect a clearer trend. The SWS-Businessworld numbers resembles the RMN results. The third quarter Pulse Asia survey will very likely hew close to this emerging trend.

We really have to exclude from the “poll of polls” Erice’s outlying (or simply lying) “secret” survey. It gives us numbers that are really odd.

Precluding any imponderable and dramatic development, it does seem the 2016 presidential race has come down to a close three-way contest between Poe, Binay and Roxas. In this emerging scenario, the outcome will very much depend on the ground war between the three camps. This is a battle whose outcome will be determined by superior grassroots organization.

It will have to be assumed that Roxas, as the administration candidate, enjoys the advantage in organization and resources. The LP hopes this will compensate for the deficiency of their candidate in the popularity department.

Grace Poe, still unsupported by any political grouping and insistent on maintaining her identity as an “independent,” has the weakest campaign organization thus far. Her “Partido Pilipinas” has only two members: Escudero and herself. She is in the reverse predicament as Roxas, hoping her immense popularity will compensate for lack of organization.

By contrast, Binay has a bit of both. By declaring early, he captured the “opposition” franchise and thus won the half of the bi-factional dynamic of local politics. He supplements his grassroots appeal with an extensive ground organization that in 2010 enabled him to slip past Roxas and in 2013 eke out a win for daughter Nancy Binay.

The three front-runners will, by necessity, have to adopt three different campaign strategies. Roxas will be reliant on machinery. Poe will depend on sustaining her popularity. Binay will have to rely on both residual popularity and ground organization.

This looming battle will make for interesting study on the mix of “command” and “market” votes.


The generals are seething at the unfair spin applied by Palace spokesman Sonny Coloma to the meeting held last Tuesday.

President Aquino summoned the officers of the Association of Generals and Flag Officers (AGFO), the PMA Alumni Association and the ROTC Alumni to this meeting after the retired military officers put out a statement critical of the Bangsamoro Basic Law in its original form. The statement supported the petition submitted to the Supreme Court by other groups questioning the constitutionality of the agreement entered into by government with the MILF.

Anyone who understands how things work in this country will grasp the significance of that public statement released by the retired generals. The retired generals are really speaking on behalf of the entire military community.

Aquino summoned the retired generals to the Palace in an effort to maybe enlighten them. His peace adviser Ging Deles made a presentation. The generals were generally unimpressed – although, of course, affirming their support for peace (but not the BBL).

The thrust of Palace propaganda the past few months has been to equate the desire for peace in Mindanao with supporting the BBL. Carried away by his own propaganda, Coloma equated the generals’ support for the pursuit of peace with conformity with the BBL.

The retired generals who were at the Palace meeting are outraged that Coloma now makes it appear that they simply capitulated to the President’s position. That is simply not true.

The generals, as AGFO president Edilberto Adan said in an interview, stand by the contents of their public statement critical of the BBL. This is simply not the means that will deliver sustainable peace.

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