Sunday, January 10, 2010

Villar conquers Aquino turf

January 10, 2010, 7:05pm

Original Story:

Nacionalista Party presidential bet Senator Manny Villar has not only reduced the lead of Liberal Party candidate Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III but also gained the support of Northern and Central Luzon, a known bailiwick of the LP bet.

In its December 27-29 special survey released last Friday, the Social Weather Station (SWS) said 2,100 respondents across the country were asked to choose from a list of presidential candidates who they were likely to vote for president if the polls were held on the day the survey was launched.

Aquino garnered 44 percent, down from 46 percent in the Dec. 5-10 national survey, SWS said. Villar placed second with 33 percent, up from 27 percent in the previous December 5-10 survey.

But a major highlight in the survey results was that Villar was the choice of the voter-rich Northern Central Luzon, where Aquino had enjoyed a big support in previous SWS surveys. SWS said Villar garnered 41.33 percent in the region, trouncing Aquino who got 31.33 percent. Northern-Central Luzon represents 22.16 percent of the total respondents.

In the previous Dec. 5-10 SWS survey, Aquino lorded it over in the region when he garnered 43.33 percent to Villar’s 30.67 percent.

Another highlight was the number of undecided, which fell from 4% in the Dec. 5-10 to only 1% in Dec. 27-28.

The SWS survey titled “Presidential Preference for the 2010 Elections,” had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percent. It was commissioned by House Minority Leader San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora.

The respondents were asked: “From the following list of names, whom are you likely to vote for as President of the Philippines, if elections were held today?”

NP said it sees Villar’s ratings to be on same level with Aquino’s by March. According to NP spokesperson Gilbert Remulla, party members were “happy because we can see that every time Senator Villar goes around the country, the support for him is increasing.”

Remulla added that Villar’s plugs on television and radio boosted the NP standard-bearer’s ratings.

“But it’s not just advertising; it’s the message that you are trying to get across. What’s his message, his vision? He wants the people to prosper,” Remulla told a news conference Friday.

Villar’s main presidential platform is the eradication of poverty in the Philippines. “Providing a lasting solution is a vow that I intend to keep. I want to end the vicious cycle of the poor Filipinos getting poorer. I have a doable plan to make that happen,” Villar had earlier said.

Intensified job creation, entrepreneurship, and agricultural development are among the key approaches that Villar said would help alleviate poverty in the country.

But the camp of Aquino, however, is unperturbed by Villar’s gains.

Aquino’s spokesperson, lawyer Edwin Lacierda, said the result of the pre-election survey only validates the LP’s belief that Aquino’s clout remains strong despite various attacks and demolition work launched to taint his credibility.

Their dirty tricks are not working. Our momentum is unbroken even at a time when many opponents are desperately trying to bring us down with black propaganda and lies,” Lacierda said.

“Our ratings at 44 percent are still the highest e ver for any presidential candidate. Former president Joseph Estrada's peak approval only stood at 42 percent and remained at around 38 percent during the 1998 elections,” Lacierda said.

And despite the demolition work being launched against Aquino, Lacierda said the LP remains confident that Aquino will maintain his lead until the May 10, 2010 elections.

“We thank the Filipino people for driving our campaign forward, for continuing to believe that we can break the cycle of corruption and hopelessness by bringing about a government of integrity, honesty, and accountability. We are confident that their support and passion for change will carry us through any ordeal. Our call remains: Ang laban na tapat ay laban ng lahat!” Lacierda said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker Simeon Datumanong and Rep. Danilo Suarez, both administration lawmakers, said results of the latest SWS on the presidential race indicate bigger changes in the standing of candidates in future polls, with former defense secretary Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro expected to be at striking distance during the campaign period.

Datumanong said this development in poll surveys is a glaring indication of indecisiveness among voters.

“This would only mean that the people are capable of changing their choice every now and then,” Datumanong said. “There may be more changes as the campaign goes along when issues will be discussed.”

On the other hand, Suarez, who is chairman of the House Committee on Oversight, predicted that Teodoro’s survey rating will vastly improve once the campaign is in full swing.

However, he complained about what he regarded as “inaccurate rating” of Teodoro.

“Mukhang hindi accurate ang kay Gibo; imposible namang ganun pa rin ang kanyang rating. It should have been higher than his previous rating,” Suarez pointed out.

At five percent last month, Teodoro’s survey grade did not improve in the latest SWS survey.

Earlier, Suarez said he expects the Lakas-Kampi-CMD presidential bet to get at least a double digit rating when campaign period starts next month.

A double digit rating is expected to put on hold a possible exodus of party members who have decided to watch on the sidelines for Teodoro’s ratings to improve before making a decision to jump ship.

Datumanong, senior vice-president for internal affairs of the ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD, was also confident that the popularity ratings of Teodoro will make a surge when the campaign period officially starts in March.

Reacting to the drop in Aquino’s lead, Suarez aired the belief that this has been caused by his failure to address the Hacienda Luisita dispute involving poor farmers of Tarlac and the Cojuangco family. (With reports from Kris Bayos and Ben R. Rosario)

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