Conduct of 2016 elections ‘positive’: Pulse Asia poll

Posted on August 09, 2016

FILIPINOS have a “generally positive assessment” of the conduct of this year’s general elections as held in their respective areas, according to Pulse Asia’s “Ulat ng Bayan” national survey in July.

The survey was conducted on July 2 to 8, a week following the inauguration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte and Vice-President Maria Leonor “Leni” G. Robredo.

Using face-to-face interviews with 1,200 representative adults 18 years old and above, the survey has a ± 3% error margin at the 95% confidence level, and a ± 6% error margin also at 95% confidence level for each of the geographic areas covered (Metro Manila, the rest of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao).

The survey said: “virtually all Filipinos are of the view that the release of the results of the May 2016 elections in their place was fast (92%), characterize the conduct of the elections in their place as orderly (93%), and say they did not observe any incidence of electoral violence (95%).”

“Meanwhile, sizeable to huge majorities opine that there was no vote buying and cheating in their area (66% and 83%, respectively) and describe the electoral results as believable (89%),” the survey also noted, adding: “These are the predominant sentiments across geographic areas and socio-economic classes.”

The survey was released amid the continuing post-election development of former senator Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s election protest against Ms. Robredo.

For the most part, Pulse Asia’s latest “figures are generally the same as those recorded by Pulse Asia Research in June 2013,” following the midterm elections that year “when survey respondents were asked to evaluate the conduct of the May 2013 elections based on the same standards.”

“The only exception,” Pulse Asia noted, “is the bigger percentage of Filipinos who say there was no vote buying in their place during the May 2016 elections (66%) compared to the percentage of those observing no vote-buying in May 2013 (59%).”

The respondents were polled about the conduct of the 2016 elections, according to “the following bases or standards”: presence of cheating in your place; presence of violence in your place; release of the results of the count in your place; and believability of results in your place.

Election cheating and violence, as well as the pace of the vote count, had been the predominant concerns in the latter part of the dictatorship of Ferdinand E. Marcos -- culminating in what a leading newsmagazine then described as the “rotten election” of the 1986 snap presidential race -- and continued well into the post-Marcos era until 2010, when the country conducted its first automated elections.

There have been allegations of cheating in this particular period and onwards. But for this year’s elections, “[s]izeable to big majorities consider the be more credible (63%) and the pace of the release of electoral results to be faster (78%) compared to the May 2010 elections,” Pulse Asia said.

“These are the majority opinions in every geographic area (55% to 71% and 74% to 81%, respectively) and socio- economic groupings (59% to 65% and 75% to 81%, respectively),” the polling group said.

“Meanwhile, a big plurality of Filipinos (41%) are of the view that there was less incidence of cheating in the May 2016 elections than in May 2010. This is shared by majorities in Mindanao (51%) and Metro Manila (52%) while sizeable to big pluralities in the Visayas (38%) and Class D (43%) also express this sentiment.”

The survey noted further that “[l]ess than a quarter of Filipinos (22%) admit to having been offered money or any material thing in exchange for their vote during the May 2016 elections, with most of them (74%) accepting the offer.”

“Majority figures are recorded in all geographic areas (53% to 78%) and in Classes D and E (74% to 80%), the survey said, noting as well: “In Class ABC, virtually the same percentages say they either accepted or did not accept the offer (49% versus 51%).”

Compared with 2016, “57% of Filipinos report that they accepted the offer of money or any material thing in exchange for their vote in the May 2013 elections while in July 2010, 72% did the same thing during that year’s presidential elections,” Pulse Asia said.

Most of those who received money or any material thing in exchange for their vote...used it to purchase food (83%),” Pulse Asia said, adding that majority figures of 69% to 86% are recorded in every geographic area and socio-economic class.

“Meanwhile, about the same percentages report using the money they received to pay their utility bills (17%) or tuition and other school-related expenses (13%),” the survey added.

“Fewer of those who admit selling their votes in May 2016 saved or kept the money given to them (9%), used it to buy alcohol products (6%) or cellphone card (4%), or paid their rent or mortgage with it (3%).”

“A host of other reasons are cited by 13% of those who were given money or any material thing during the May 2016 elections,” the survey said.

Among other public issues, the illicit market of drugs has been a predominant theme of the election campaign and beyond.

The survey pointed out as well: “Among those who admit that they accepted the offer of money in exchange for their vote, 49% opted to support some, but not all, of the candidates who made such an offer to them.”

“Near to small majorities in the rest of Luzon (50%), the Visayas (53%), Mindanao (47%), and all socio-economic groupings (47% to 52%) report doing so,” the survey added.

“In the meantime, 28% did not vote for all of the candidates who offered them money or material things -- with a majority figure being recorded in Metro Manila (63%).”

“The rest of those who accepted the offer of money or material things in exchange for their vote either voted for all the candidates who made such an offer to them (18%) or refused to answer the survey probe (4%).”

Sought for comment, Ramon C. Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, noted this was “the first time that the losers [losing presidential candidates] conceded on the same day and we were able to proclaim senators days after the elections.”

Mr. Casiple also pointed out that although election violence has gone down, “we really can’t say that it is an accomplishment,” adding that one incident still counts as violence. -- with Raynan F. Javil