More on mind-conditioning surveys

By Herbert Vego

THIS writer is convinced that the political pollsters – notably SWS, Pulse Asia, Octa Research, Laylo Research and Publicus – have a common goal, which is to concretize the “invincibility” of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte-Carpio as the winning combination for president and vice-president, respectively.  Their surveys show the two headed for a landslide. But wait!

You have heard it said, “To see is to believe.” Don’t we see tens of thousands of warm bodies congesting every political rally of the opposition Leni Robredo-Kiko Pangilinan tandem?

Don’t we see traditional politicians – for example Eastern Samar Governor Ben Evardone, former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and House Deputy Speaker and Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman – raising Robredo’s hand on stage?

Remember when several lawmakers led by Deputy Minority Leader Stella Quimbo (2nd Dist., Marikina) filed a resolution seeking a House probe into the “qualifications” of the Octa Research group which tried to be credible by tying up with the Department of Health (DOH) In disseminating statistics on Covid-19 cases?

We have read about religious organizations – among them the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC0, Couples for Christ and the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul – circulating statements of support for Leni ang Kiko.

But there’s a contrary devilish quotation attributed to Hitler’s propagandist Joseph Goebbels: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

No wonder that in the past few days, radio stations nationwide have been rattling percentage numbers from the latest Pulse Asia survey giving Marcos 56 percent of the respondents against Robredo’s 24%; and also 56% to running mate Sara Duterte, drowning Tito Sotto’s 20% and Kiko Pangilinan’s 16%.

The broadcast media now classifies the survey replays as a “paid broadcast” where the words expressed are of the sponsors and not of the network management.

As to who pays for that and similar exposure on TV and the newspapers, uhm, secret… But as to who are they who benefit from the play-up of the commissioned surveys that also cover the “senatoriables,” your guess is as good as mine.

Meanwhile, so-called “political analysts” try to arouse “excitement” over Robredo’s rising numbers. With the March survey giving her 24% or a nine-point increase from 15% in February, who knows? She might catch up, since Marcos’ 61% has diminished to 56%.

My take is that Robredo’s and Pangilinan’s numbers would further go up in the April survey — how’s that for consuelo de bobo? — but without snatching the majority advantage from the Marcos-Sara “uniteam”. Ergo, there would never be enough change in numbers to reverse the “trend”.

But pray, tell us, how could the 2,400 unknown respondents reveal a trend when it’s just a drop in a sea of 67 million registered voters? Could we rely on the “scientific methodology” of the well-oiled pollsters?

You must have seen Pulse Asia chair Ronald Holmes say on TV that he spends five million pesos for each monthly survey and recovers the amount from unnamed sponsors. His “competitors” could not be far behind.

Incidentally, have you or anybody you know been surveyed face-to-face?

There was a time before the 2016 presidential election when I wrote in a column for another paper that nobody in the Iloilo media had come face to face with a poll enumerator.  And lo, within the week, an enumerator came to see my publisher in a coffee shop.

I could sense her disbelief on hearing, “Jehovah does not allow us to vote.”

Back to the present, the commercial pollsters could not explain why Marcos, who lost to Vice President Robredo in 2016, has suddenly gained bandwagon popularity. How could the son of a dictator — ousted in the 1986 EDSA Revolution — have overturned public opinion? By refusing to participate in debates?

“Ah, basta!” is how trolls in the social media vaguely explain their preference for Marcos, according to former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez who is now a Robredo supporter.

On the other hand, mock elections participated in by students of five Metro Manila universities — Ateneo de Manila University, Far Eastern University (FEU), National University (NU), University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman and University of Santo Tomas (UST) – showed the Robredo-Pangilinan team way ahead.

For example, out of the 3,343 Ateneo student participants, a majority of 3,197 voted for Robredo for president, which means that only 146 voted for the nine others; and 2,909 preferred Pangilinan for vice-president.

Alas, while the questionable surveys are nothing to be afraid of, beware! They could be used to complement whatever “smartmagic” awaits the automated ballot counting in the wee hours following the May 9, 2022 elections.

But then, to quote the late US President Abraham Lincoln, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”



WE learned from Ms. Maricel Pe, head of MORE Power’s customer care department, that disconnected customers who had not paid bill deposit would have to pay that deposit on top of outstanding balances before they could be reconnected to the distribution utility.

The bill deposit would also be imposed on new customers.

Under the “Magna Carta for Residential Electricity Consumers,” this guarantee deposit equivalent to the estimated value of one-month consumption may be refunded upon termination of service or on demand after three years of service, provided all bills have been paid on or before due dates.

This is understandable because, as the distribution utility in Iloilo City, MORE Power is obliged to pay its power suppliers on time to avoid surcharges.

However, according to its president, Roel Z. Castro, MORE Power still charges the cheapest rate at P6.70 per kilowatt-hour – an increase of around 40 centavos due to oil-price adjustment. This lower cost, when compared to prices imposed by the electric cooperatives, is partly due to its short-term contract for cheaper geothermal energy from the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) in Leyte.