Did unity call, Trillanes exposé influence swing voters?

Buena Bernal
Did unity call, Trillanes exposé influence swing voters?
An adviser for presidential bet Grace Poe says 'events in the last few weeks' may still have influenced soft and undecided voters

MANILA, Philippines – Up until a few days before the elections, popular blogger and poll transparency advocate Jane Uymatiao was still undecided on who to vote for as Philippine president for the next 6 years.

Uymatiao is not alone.

In her circle alone, a group of bloggers closely monitoring the political races, registered voters find it hard to throw support to one particular presidential candidate, even after their private viewing parties of presidential campaign debates.

In a Rappler interview a few minutes before the closing of polling precincts Monday, May 9, Ateneo School of Government Dean Tony La Viña explained that “events in the last few weeks” heading to the elections could still have influenced the soft and undecided voters like Uymatiao.

INTERVIEW. Thought leader Tony La Viña speaks with Rappler in an interview during election day. Rappler screenshot

“The Trillanes exposé have some effect in those places it has reached,” he said during the studio interview, explaining that details of the said news item certainly remain unknown to other voters.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, an independent vice presidential candidate, exposed a bank account in the name of presidential survey front-runner Rodrigo Duterte which allegedly had P2.4 billion in transactions. The bank account is not declared in the mayor’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth.

In what the Duterte camp regarded as a mere political smear campaign, Trillanes demanded that the Davao City mayor sign a bank waiver.

Heavy news coverage of the scandal culminated with Trillanes eventually filing a plunder complaint against the local govenment executive.

La Viña also cited the administration party’s “last-minute call for talks” as part of the events that could have made an impact on voters still prone to shift choices until ballot casting.

Warning against a possible dictatorship, President Benigno Aquino III called on  presidential hopeful Grace Poe to unite with administration bet Manuel “Mar” Roxas II against Duterte.

‘Insincere call’

La Viña, an adviser for Poe, slammed the call for unity talks, which he said “we don’t see as sincere at all.”

The daughter of a late action star, Poe is midway her first term as a senator.  Her 2013 senatorial run is perceived as political vengeance in behalf of her father who died in 2004, the same year he ran as president but lost to the incumbent.

With only 3 years of national legislative work under her belt, she is seen by critics as lacking the political savvy and experience of her rivals.

In a Rappler piece, La Viña admittedly described Poe as the “least experienced in the roster of candidates.”

Poe lags behind Duterte by at least 10 percentage points in pre-election political surveys.

‘Exit poll more accurate’

La Viña explained that an exit poll conducted after the closing of polling precincts will have “less margin of error” than pre-election surveys, but admits “it’s useless if it’s a close race.”

Any such exit poll will have a “much larger sample” and will approximate votes – asking who voters voted for – instead of pre-election surveys that attempt to determine voter preference.

Pulse Asia Research, Incorporated president Ronald Holmes revealed that based on his firm’s survey that around 12.5 million of the 54 million registered voters have a tendency to shift choices until election day this 2016.

The number represents 25% of the projected voters on election day, using the average Philippine voter turnout of 75%.

Intense elections

The 2016 Philippine presidential race is one of the most intense in recent history, with a controversial political figure as the known crowd favorite.

Duterte has been dubbed as the “Trump of the East.” 

The popular city mayor has drawn international bewilderment as a political character due to his mass appeal in spite of his shocking remarks on rape, association with mass killings of suspected criminals, and profanity-laden speeches. 

While he is ahead of the pack in surveys, the support reflected in surveys still does not represent majority of Philippine voters.

Largely due to its multi-party system, the Philippines has never had a president voted by the majority since after its transition back to democracy in 1986. – Rappler.com

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