A recent survey released by Pulse Asia on voter preference among presidential candidates for the May 9 elections showed Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. still leading the 10-man pack with 60 percent of the 2,400 respondents saying they would vote for the young Marcos.
The survey also says Vice President Leni Robredo got 15%, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, 10%; Sen. Manny Pacquiao, 8%; and Sen. Panfilo Lacson, 2%.
Atty. Vic Rodriguez, the Marcos spokesman who speaks more about issues than his client does, was quick to claim that the result debunks the “fake narrative” forced by “some small segment of our society” regarding current voter preference.
In response, Atty. Barry Gutierrez, Robredo’s spokesman, said the survey did not reflect yet the “snowballing” of support for his candidate in recent weeks. Gutierrez was actually being respectful of Pulse Asia, whose surveys have been questioned by some political pundits.
For one, the survey results have not much changed from their early results, with Marcos getting just around 60% and Robredo hovering between 10 and 15 percent, and the others barely scratching the surface. The surveys simply do not reflect realities on the ground.
Robredo’s recent rallies, for example, have drawn massive crowds, capped by the more than 70,000 people who attended her rally at the Paglaum Sports Complex in Bacolod City. The Marcos camp tried to question the crowd estimates but the aerial photos and the videos of those who joined the rally that spilled over to the streets surrounding the huge sports stadium belie their doubts.
The day before, more than 40,000 attended the rally in nearby Iloilo City. Huge crowds also met Robredo and her running mate, Sen. Francis Pangilinan, in Marcos’ supposed “Solid North” in Cagayan and Isabela, with supporters carrying banners that proudly proclaimed “Awan Solid North” (There is no Solid North).
The week before, more than 47,000 supporters rejected their governor Jovic Remulla’s vow that he would deliver 800,000 votes for Marcos in the vote-rich province. Despite road closures that suddenly appeared around the rally site in General Trias, thousands of Cavitenos trekked to the venue. Robredo, whose convoy was stalled by the traffic resulting from the road closures, had to request a motorcyclist to let her ride behind on his tiny scooter and bring her to the rally venue, much to the cheers of the waiting crowd.
This show of determination and humility has endeared Robredo to millions of Filipinos all over the country, prompting the undecided and the apolitical to join her many campaign sorties and the snowballing support has been evident in her rallies.
Andrew Marasaigan, a Manila Bulletin columnist, also questioned the veracity of some surveys because he said some respondents are posturing, meaning some of them feel the need to conform with the majority, bend to social pressures, or succumb to intimidation.
He offered as more reliable alternative the results of Google Trends, which shows the following results for the country’s various regions (involving only the two top rivals):
Metro Manila – Robredo 59, Marcos 41; Calabarzon – Robredo 61, Marcos 39; Central Luzon – Robredo 57, Marcos 43; Central Visayas – Robredo 56, Marcos 44; Ilocos Region – Robredo 48, Marcos 52; CAR – Robredo 60, Marcos 40; CARAGA – Robredo 68, Marcos 32; Cagayan Valley – Robredo 54, Marcos 46; Bicol Region – Robredo 69, Marcos 32; Western Visayas – Robredo 61, Marcos 39; Eastern Visayas – Robredo 55, Marcos 45; Central Visayas – Robredo 56, Marcos 44; Northern Mindanao – Robredo 58, Marcos 42; Davao Region – Robredo 53, Marcos 47; Zamboanga Peninsula – Robredo 59, Marcos 41; SOCCSKARGEN – Robredo 59, Marcos 41; MIMAROPA – Robredo 58, Marcos 42; ARMM – Robredo 70, Marcos 30.
Another ground reality that has not been reflected in Pulse Asian surveys is the fact that Robredo has gained unprecedented endorsements from a cross section of the population – from workers, to students, to professors, business leaders, lawyers, and many others.
Let’s take a brief look at the list of Robredo endorsers, as painstakingly compiled by Yahoo News contributor Mark Ernest Famatigan:
• 89 young local government officials across LGUs nationwide, including mayors, vice mayors, provincial board members, councilors, SK chairpersons.
• Over 150 human rights lawyers and advocates
• Retired officers of AFP-PNP
• More than 700 doctors, nurses, and other allied health professionals from Cavite
• Over a thousand educators from different schools of the De La Salle University
• Over 400 faculty members of the University of Sto. Tomas (UST)
• At least 100 former and current heads of educational institutions
• 150 professors from different law schools
• The Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Department of Theology
• The framers of the 1987 Constitution
• Over 500 former officials and employees of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).
• Individual members of the Couples for Christ (CFC).
• 47 officials of the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo administration
• Past presidents of the Philippine Bar Association
• The Missionary Benedictine Sisters of St. Scholastica’s Priory, Manila
• Four women indigenous leaders.”
• More than 200 former workers of the United Nations
• Former Fidel Ramos Cabinet members
• More than 260 economists, including six NEDA director-generals, namely Solita Collas-Monsod, Cielito Habito, Erlinda Medalla, Dante Canlas, Ernesto Pernia, and Emmanuel Esguerra.
• Religious society De La Salle Brothers of the Taft Community
• About a hundred members of the late Benigno Aquino III’s Cabinet
And the list continues to grow as governors, mayors and other elected officials are starting to hitch in the Robredo bandwagon.
Perhaps the latest to do so is President Rodrigo Duterte himself, who said that he prefers his successor to be a lawyer “with compassion.” Among the 10 presidential candidates, only Robredo and Jose Montemayor Jr. are lawyers.
Although it is true that the President was describing in general what he said would be an ideal successor, it is easy to say that it was an indirect endorsement of Robredo. The fact that Eastern Samar Gov. Ben Evardonne, a loyal Duterte supporter, publicly endorsed Robredo the next day, saying he had the President’s explicit permission, attest to this assertion.
Remember that Robredo also figured poorly in poll surveys against rival Marcos in the 2016 elections for vice president, but ended beating him by more than 287,000 votes. Marcos demanded a recount of the votes in three Mindanao provinces, but the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, dismissed the case, saying that there was no evidence of fraud, and that even if the results there were annulled, Robredo would still win by 15,130 votes.
So will the May election results be as close? Although Pulse Asia surveys say Marcos would win by a landslide if elections were held today, realities in the ground, to my mind, say it would be the other way around, Robredo by a landslide. I dare say Duterte feels it in his guts, so does his loyal soldier, Evardonne, who has always sided with the winners. And that’s how this election would go.