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Opinion

Numbers

FIRST PERSON - Alex Magno - The Philippine Star

Those who claim to speak for the people might do well to take a close look at the opinion surveys. The dissonance between what they say and what the people say might be jarring.

Last Monday, Pulse Asia released the results of its first nationwide survey this virus-infested year. Although hardly surprising, the results sent ripples across the political terrain.

As expected, Sara Duterte topped the presidential preference survey, garnering 28 percent of the vote. That nationwide share is the result of her very strong showing in Mindanao and the Visayas where she received 62 percent and 30 percent respectively. This outcome basically reflects the trend noted in the last face-to-face survey late fourth quarter last year.

Running a far second to the Davao City mayor is Manila mayor Isko Moreno with 14 percent, statistically tied with Bongbong Marcos’ 13 percent. Grace Poe took 10 percent while Manny Pacquiao took 8 percent. Leni Robredo is running sixth with 6 percent, Ping Lacson with 4 percent and Bong Go with 3 percent.

Early yesterday morning, the main media platforms shifted, replaced the Pulse Asia story with reporting on the response of the Robredo camp. The response was lame, attributing Robredo’s relatively poor showing on her being preoccupied with the COVID response. Well, so was everybody.

What was surprising was that in the vice-presidential polling, Rodrigo Duterte led everyone else, taking an 18 percent share of voter preference. He was trailed by Moreno with 14 percent.

In the senatorial preference tally, none of the so-called “yellow” politicians made it to the winning circle. That seems to foretell a repeat of the 2019 “Otso Diretso” debacle.

Voter preference surveys are, of course, mere snapshots of how voting would go if they were held today. But they are crucial reference points for potential electoral alliances and for candidate-selection. This latest survey definitely strengthens Sara Duterte’s hand, either as candidate or a kingmaker.

The results of the latest Pulse Asia survey should disappoint the chattering class, those who have been hard at work weaving the obviously false narrative that the people in their millions have rejected the incumbent administration. They must go back to the drawing board and rework the narrative they peddle.

Or else, they can fall back on their previous two responses to similar disappointing results: discredit the messenger (in this case Pulse Asia) or call our voters idiots. We saw both responses in the troll responses to the survey story.

Neither response, as we saw previously, amounted to anything remotely productive. These will not save the anti-Duterte groups from ignominy at the polls.

Procurement

Some legal expert should tell us if it is possible for the board of a government corporation to overturn the recommendation of its special bids and awards committee (SBAC).

We saw this before and it is happening again. The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) is once again in the midst of turmoil over the board’s reversal of the recommendation of the agency’s SBAC.

The members of the SBAC have all tendered their “irrevocable” resignation after the board, for the second time, reversed the committee’s decision to disqualify a bidder.

The issue, again, is a humungous P6.15-billion 5-year contract for new lotto technology. The five members of the PCSO-SBAC resigned once before when the board intervened in their procurement recommendation. On June 15, when the board intervened once more, they made their resignations “irrevocable.”

The five members of the SBAC are: Josefina Sarsonas, lawyers Raymond Samarita and Leah Christine Jimenez and engineers Ariel de Ocampo and Omar Bagui. All five were chosen because of their knowledge and experience in government procurement. They submitted their irrevocable resignation “to ensure and maintain the continuity, transparency and integrity of the procurement activities for the 2021 PCSO Lottery Project and in addition, to uphold the cold neutrality of an impartial Bids and Awards Committee…”

The resignation happened after the PCSO board verbally ordered the SBAC to reverse their second disqualification of the bid submission of Shenzen-based Genlot Game Technology Co.  Chinese company Genlot is in consortium with Digi-Specs I.T. Corporation and Philippine United Technic Corporation.

The disqualification is a reiteration of the same recommendation earlier submitted by the committee. The SBAC first decided to disqualify the Genlot consortium after it failed to provide English translations of their submissions certified by the Philippine embassy. The second time the bidder was disqualified was when the committee found that the mayor’s permit for a member of the consortium (PUTC) expired by the time bids were opened.

In a word, the disqualified bidder did not perform due diligence in its submissions. For a contract as large as this one, the paperwork is either complete or it is not.

The disqualification obviously did not please the board of the PCSO. After the second disqualification, the members of the SBAC were called in and roundly scolded by the agency’s directors. This was when the members of the SBAC tendered their irrevocable resignation.

PCSO general manager Royina Garma, installed by President Duterte to rid the notorious agency of corruption, was asked about the resignations during a recent press conference. She claimed the matter had been resolved as the board decided not to accept the resignation of the members of the SBAC.

But the resignation was “irrevocable.” Garma now claims the board revoked that resignation.

PCSO’s all-powerful board, it seems, can not only reverse the SBAC’s recommendation but also revoke its “irrevocable” resignation. The problem it seems lies not only with the agency’s internal procedures but also with its grasp of the English language.

This situation requires an external review.

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