Opposition’s Senate bets unfazed by poor survey numbers

Mara Cepeda
'Hindi naman ho kami tumitingin sa surveys. Kami ay tumitingin sa sentimiyento ng taongbayan,' says Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano

CAMPAIGN BEGINS. Tindig Pilipinas convenor Dinky Soliman endorses senatorial bets Chel Diokno, Samira Gutoc Tomawis, and Gary Alejano on October 12, 2018. Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The opposition’s Senate bets are not worried by their low ranking in the latest pre-election surveys, saying there is still time to introduce themselves to voters to gain more support on election day.

Three senatorial bets endorsed by opposition coalition Tindig Pilipinas took turns explaining their plans to become better known to voters Friday, October 12. (READ: Tindig Pilipinas endorses Senate bets who will ‘fight for all of us’)

Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano, Marawi civic leader Samira Gutoc Tomawis, and human rights lawyer Chel Diokno were asked in a news conference organized by Tindig Plipinos how they planned to boost their survey numbers.

Alejano said that his party Magdalo has a regional organization in the provinces and he plans to use this network for his campaign. 

Well, hindi naman ho kami tumitingin sa surveys. Kami ay tumitingin sa sentimiyento ng taongbayan. At noon pa man, meron ho kaming regional organization doon sa kanayunan at naniniwala kami na ‘pag bitbit natin ang boses ng taongbayan, gaya ng nangyari in the past, ay naniniwala ho kami na mananalo kami,” said Alejano.

(Well, we don’t look at surveys. We look at the sentiments of the people. We have a regional organization in the provinces and we believe that if we advocate for the voice of the people, just like what happened in the past, I believe we will win again.)

Diokno said he does not expect the whole country to know him. But at the very least, he wants the issue of justice to be discussed on a national level. 

Wala kong pakialam sa survey. Hindi ko rin naman inaasahan na sa buong Pilipinas, malalaman nila kung sino ako. Dahil ang importante po sa akin ay mapag-usapan natin ang katarungan, lalong lalo na sa mahihirap dahil ‘yan ay talagang isang ilusyon lang para sa kanila at gusto kong maging realidad,” said the chairperson of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG).

(I don’t care about surveys. I don’t expect the whole Philippines to know who I am. What’s important for me is to get people talking about justice, especially for the poor, because that is an illusion right now that I want to be a reality in the future.)

In Pulse Asia Research Incorporated’s Ulat ng Bayan survey in September, both Alejano and Diokno were at 44th to 62nd places, each getting a 1.6% voter preference rating.  

Campaign has not begun

The name of Tomawis, former Bangsamoro Transition Commission member who resigned because of her opposition to President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao, was not even included in the survey. 

She remained unfazed by this, and said she had only announced her Senate bid this week. (READ: Tomawis, Colmenares first opposition senatorial bets to file COCs

Tomawis also said there were many residents of Mindanao who were not being surveyed. She expected her numbers to increase when the plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Organic Law is held. 

“Para sa akin, taga-Mindanao ako, definitely surveys will not really be the total measurement of performance level. In fact, marami po akong kababayan from as far as Tawi-Tawi, hindi nasu-survey. So we’re talking 1.8 million voting base for ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao). In the future, dagdag 2 million sa plebiscite come January, including North [Cotabato], Cotabato City, Isabela at saka Lanao del Norte,” said Tomawis. 

(I am from Mindanao and definitely surveys will not really be the total measurement of performance level. In fact, I have fellow Mindanaoans as far as Tawi-Tawi who are not being surveyed. So we’re talking about a 1.8-million voting base for ARMM. In the future, another 2 million will be added from the plebiscite come January, including North Cotabato, Cotabato City, Isabela, and Lanao del Norte.)

Dinky Soliman, Tindig Pilipinas convenor and former social welfare secretary, vowed their group will campaign hard for Alejano, Diokno, and Tomawis together with reelectionist Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV and ex-Quezon lawmaker Erin Tañada. (READ: LP’s initial Senate slate for 2019: Bam Aquino, Chel Diokno, Erin Tañada)

Mangangampanya kami sa buong kapuluan para siguraduhin na ang katarungan, ang kasarinlan at kabutihan ng mamamayan ang mananaig sa Senado. Asahin niyo kaming lahat. Makikita niyo kaming paikot-ikot dala-dala ang aming ine-endorse bilang Tindig Pilipinas,” said Soliman. 

(We will campaign across the country to ensure that justice, sovereignty, and welfare of the people will prevail in the Senate. You can count on that. You will see us going around together with the candidates being endorsed by Tindig Pilipinas.)

Tindig Pilipinas would also campaign for interior secretary Mar Roxas should he decide to run for senator. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.