POSTSCRIPT / April 7, 2016 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Opinion Columnist

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Battle of deceptive surveys of candidates

THE BATTLE of deceptive surveys has begun, leading up to the May 9 elections — with the objectives of capturing the bandwagon votes of the gullible, keeping financiers delivering the millions, and conditioning the public mind to accept upcoming bogus election results.

The “surveys” of voters’ preferred national candidates have been joined by a corollary “survey” of how TV ads supposedly affect viewers’ perception of political products. The added objective is to rationalize the financiers’ increased advertising spending.

At other stages of the election timetable we might tolerate this commercial drum-beating. After all, as they say, kanya-kanyang racket lang (to each his own racket).

But with only four critical weeks left before Election Day, there should be some way of regulating obviously misleading propaganda and minimizing the brainwashing of the unwary electorate.

How can these supposed surveys be credible when one report says a presidential candidate is leading while another poll during the same period working on the same sample claims another favorite? One or both surveys must be rigged or false. Better reject both.

Or one consistently leading vice presidential candidate is suddenly reported in another survey as a tail-ender. Such jarring reports lead one to wonder about the credibility of surveys in the campaign homestretch.

Re the survey on TV ads, how can a big percentage of viewers reportedly say they tend to be swayed by what they see in the idiot box when any sane viewer readily sees through most of those insulting televised claims and promises of candidates?

…Unless the survey respondent means he/she is swayed NOT to vote for the advertised politician.

In fact, an average person is turned off by the inane and ridiculous claims of some ads tested against the consistent public information on the candidate and the issues. A TV ad making a preposterous pitch by or for a candidate cannot overturn deeply etched impressions.

With the Commission on Elections busy with the Herculean preparations for the big day, the mass media can help by being discerning in propagating or playing up misleading “survey” results and not be a party to the mind conditioning of the electorate.

Instead of feeding the public with alleged preference survey results that are speculative at best or brainwashing ploys at worst, the media should focus on educating the electorate on the candidates’ background, track record, program of government, statements, et cetera.

Voters, beware! In this homestretch of the election campaign, better ignore all alleged survey findings on the comparative standing of candidates.

Big donation equals big say in gov’t

THERE ought to be a law requiring candidates and political parties to declare periodically during the campaign period, and not just after the election, all money and material (logistical) contributions. There must be deadlines for accepting and disclosing donations.

Probably only one of the presidential candidates has the legitimate family resources to fund a sustained national campaign, including the billions for TV advertising. The public is entitled to know where the money is coming from.

Even assuming the candidate’s family is liquid enough to pool adequate resources, it is well known in the business that a candidate normally does not spend his own money. Why will he when he can spend public funds or contributions of financiers placing a bet on him/her?

While the Comelec had declared several presidential bets as nuisance candidates for seeming to lack the capacity to sustain a national campaign, at least one top candidate without party backup is allowed to run although without similar personal/family resources. Why the uneven field?

The bigtime financiers of all the presidential candidates are known or talked about (we have a list being validated), but it will help if there is a law or implementing rules requiring their disclosure during – not after — the campaign.

With the timely disclosure, voters can be properly guided, and be able to evaluate the candidate’s possible agenda or what he/she is likely to do or whom to favor once elected.

Winners and losers in Phl elections

A NATIONAL election is actually one big betting game of high-rollers, some of them criminally-bent. Smart donors even bet on more than one presidential candidate as insurance for gaining favors and protection when their candidate of choice wins.

Who loses? Who else, but the people, yung mga nasa laylayan, who must forever toil in an unjust system ruled by those who hold the purse strings?

If there is big-time gambling, there is also a kind of betting at the grassroots. Many voters who do not have enough grounding for an intelligent vote rely on gut feel and rumors on who is likely to win.

Since they have no direct stake on whoever wins – that is how irrelevant the masses have become — many voters just want to be able to say they bet on the right horse. A talunan (loser) has no appeal to many bettors.

A winning survey report plays on what western strategists call the bandwagon effect. Supposed positive poll results are manufactured and spread through media allies to show that a certain politician is now leading and probably on his way to victory.

The positive report, though based on a false survey, tends to act as magnet for many voters who have not made a choice or whose favorite has a tenuous hold on them.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of April 7, 2016)

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