In times of election people work up an appetite for “statistics” on how the candidates they support are faring in what is essentially a popularity contest. The two dominant survey firms who meet this demand for numbers are SWS and Pulse Asia. The numbers collected in supposedly “scientifically” conducted “surveys” on which candidate is favoured by potential voters then become fodder for “news” updates published by mainstream media outlets like newspapers, TV news programs, and talk shows among others.
Considering the power in the hands of whoever controls these “survey” firms, it is no surprise that some candidates in the coming elections are a bit apprehensive about the methods being employed by these firms to come up with these much-anticipated studies of voters’ potential inclinations. One such politician is Social Justice Society candidate Samson Alcantara who reportedly sued SWS and Pulse Asia and called for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the two firms until such time as they make available to him (and presumably the public) the mechanics of how they conduct their “surveys”.
â€œIâ€™m not questioning their right to conduct surveys. Iâ€™m merely asking what are the questions being asked in the surveys and that I be informed about it so I can protect my interests. This is also what people are asking. The activities of the polling bodies are not purely private undertakings but are impressed with public interest,â€ [Alcantara] told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Who controls the mighty SWS and Pulse Asia “survey” firms?
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Back in early 2010, we featured revelations made in a paper by a certain Professor Alfredo Sureta about how the people behind the two dominant “survey” firms were related to then presidential candidate Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III…
The SWS was founded in 1986 by Dr. Mahar Mangahas, Prof. Felipe Miranda, then DPWH Sec. Jose P. de Jesus (under President Cory Aquino), Mercy Abad among others while Pulse Asia was founded in the 90s when Prof. Felipe Miranda separated from Mangahas and bolted SWS. It should be noted that Managhas is the cousin of the late presidential candidate Fernando Poe, Jr while some of the prominent members of the board and stockholders of the Pulse Asia are blood relatives of Sen. Benigno â€œNoynoyâ€ Aquino III, official candidate for the president of the Liberal Party. The corporate records of both firms that are available at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will also show interlocking directorship with several personalities appearing as stockholders of both SWS and Pulse Asia.
Felipe Mirand, Rosalinda T. Miranda, Gemino H. Abad, Mercedes R. Abad, Jose P. de Jesus appear in SEC records as being founders and or stockholders of both SWS and Pulse Asia.
Mercedes R. Abad who is president of TRENDS-MBL, is the one who used to conduct the field research for both SWS and Pulse Asia.
Jose P. de Jesus of Pulse Asia was the DPWH Secretary during the time of the late President Cory Aquino.
Antonio O. Conjuangco and Rafael Conjuangco Lopa of Pulse Asia are cousins of Benigno Simeon â€œNoynoyâ€ Conjuangco Aquino III
Is it possible that the entire setup known as “Philippine elections” is rigged by an entire clique of friends and relatives looking out for the interests of Uncle Peping?
Not surprisingly, the management of SWS and Pulse Asia don’t think so…
The two survey outfits called Alcantaraâ€™s suit â€œunfounded and maliciousâ€ and demanded damages. SWS claimed moral damages amounting to P1 million and another P200,000 in attorneyâ€™s fees. Pulse Asia demanded P50,000 in exemplary damages and compensation for having to retain the services of a counsel worth P100,000 plus P10,000 per court appearance and P25,000 in litigation expenses.
Don’t look now but some people are using a bazooka to kill a gnat. The stakes must really be high this year. After all, there is only one more year to go before Uncle Peping’s family jewels need to be subject to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.
The future does not look bright for SWS and Pulse Asia. Even back during the 2010 presidential election campaign, people have been on to these “firms”…
From â€œOpinion Polls and Electionsâ€, The Diplomat…
The methodology used by major survey firms are also being questioned today. Abbey Canturias, Managing Director of Campaigns & Images Group, is disappointed with how SWS and Pulse Asia are conducting and presenting survey findings. â€˜Theyâ€™re not polling; theyâ€™re mentally preconditioning peopleâ€™s choices toward a bandwagon effectâ€”in favor of those who pay: their sponsors. I find that filthy practice very nauseating and revolting,â€™ Canturias wrote.
From â€œGordon sues SWS, Pulse Asiaâ€, The Philippine Star…
The Comelec said pre-election surveys are constitutionally valid but are not helpful to voters because these set trending, which can influence the voters.
â€œInstead of studying the platform, the qualifications, the issues concerning the candidates, you will rely on the trend,â€ Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said.
From â€œPhilippine Political Surveys are Fatally Flawedâ€, Kit Tatad, First Things First…
Candidates, would-be candidates and political parties have taken these survey results at face value as scientific, accurate and totally above-board. The mass media have passed them on freely without any critical analysis, and not a small portion of the public appears willing to accept them as gospel truth. Public discussion of the merits of the candidates and their respective political platforms, if any, has thus been thrust aside in favor of this undivided attention to the surveys.
This gives the polling firms an excessive and unaccountable power they have not earned. There is no guarantee that this power will not be used to tax the public interest; there is, in fact, some doubt that the common good ever figured in the recent surveys. Based on the existing trade literature, not only is the methodology of the surveys fatally flawed, the pollsters have also failed to rise to the high professional and ethical standards of opinion polling in the more advanced countries, notably the United States. Thus, while claiming to serve the public interest, the surveys may have, in fact, only served some special political and commercial interests.
Holy conflict-of-interest, Batman!
Suspect methods and suspect owners. Seems like it’s all hands on deck as the election winning machinery of the people who have the most to gain — and lose — in this year’s elections starts getting in gear.
Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.