I address this piece mainly to the 81% of Filipinos who are satisfied with the general performance of the current administration. (See the first quarter 2019 Social Weather Stations or SWS survey, which says that the net satisfaction rating of the national administration is a record-high score of +72, broken down into 81% of Filipinos satisfied, 9% unsatisfied, and 10% neither satisfied nor dissatisfied.)
This is a major reason why administration candidates or candidates allied with the Duterte administration are leading the election surveys conducted by both SWS and Pulse Asia.
But wait. Counter-intuitively, those satisfied with the administration might accept voting for opposition candidates. One can appeal to them to vote opposition candidates in order to be consistent with their own preferred beliefs. Let me illustrate.
Let us look at the surveys taken by both Pulse Asia and SWS. A survey conducted by Pulse Asia (March 23-27, 2019) reveals that “the most important reason for voting for a senatorial candidate” in 2019 is “untarnished name and character/reputation, not corrupt.” Pulse Asia states that 37% of adult Filipinos considered this trait as the most important reason for voting a candidate. A far second reason is about a candidate having “a clear program or platform of action” (chosen by 19% of the respondents).
The SWS also has a similar survey. The information from the SWS survey done on December 16-19, 2018, shows that 25% of Filipinos desire a candidate who “will not be corrupt.”
But then, some administration candidates are the opposite of being “not corrupt.” Take the case of two candidates who might win, being among the top 12 candidates, but who are still vulnerable from losing, being ranked 11th and 12th. These candidates are Imee Marcos (ranked 11th) and Jinggoy Estrada (ranked 12th together with Bam Aquino). This is based on the latest Pulse Asia survey (April 10-14, 2019).
Both Imee Marcos and Jinggoy Estrada have been accused of corruption. Ms. Marcos is being investigated by the Office of the Ombudsman for the misuse of the earmarked revenue from the excise tobacco tax, equivalent to PhP66.45 million, which was allocated to Ilocos Norte. Mr. Estrada is accused of plunder and graft and corruption charges, and is out on bail. The charge is that he embezzled PhP183 million from fake projects.
In a tight race, these two candidates can still be yanked out of the winning circle. Just have an intensified information campaign regarding the corruption charges against these two candidates. Remind the voters as well that Imee Marcos and Jinggoy Estrada contradict the voters’ principal reason for voting, which is to elect a non-corrupt candidate.
Here’s another point to consider. Although adult Filipinos give a “good” net rating to the administration with respect to “eradicating graft and corruption” (with a score of +41), this rating is significantly below the general performance rating, which has a score of +72. This suggests that much still has to be done to fight graft and corruption.
To “eradicate graft and corruption,” we must convince the voters to punish the tarnished politicians like Imee Marcos, Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla (who has yet to return the plundered amount of PhP124.5 million), and others.
In sum, the voters do not want to elect corrupt politicians. Let us ask the people, even those who are satisfied with the general performance of the administration, to vote opposition candidates or even independent candidates, even if only to meet the objective of preventing the corrupt from winning.
Filomeno S. Sta. Ana III coordinates the Action for Economic Reforms.