Poll watchdogs warn voters on election surveys
MANILA, Philippines — Election watchdog groups warned voters on Monday, to take election surveys with a grain of salt, saying that it’s a multimillion-peso business that has allowed “clients” to influence the framing of questions.
In a weekly forum, the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente), the National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) and the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) also said the results of these polls should not be the voters’ basis when they cast their ballots on May 9.
“While poll surveys are covered by the Fair Election Act, voters must always remember that these are paid for and cost millions of pesos,” said Lente acting executive director Ann Caritos at the Tapatan sa Aristocrat forum on Monday.
“And no matter how these poll firms insist that they are independent, when you have a client that pays millions of pesos for their services, of course that client has influence on the questions…not all surveys are 100 percent honest,” added Caritos.
Namfrel secretary general Eric Alvia also said that results of election surveys should be seen as mere “snapshots” of the preference of a group of people at a given point in time and would not necessarily reflect the overall decision of the electorate.
He added that if a survey were conducted properly with the correct methodologies, it could give an accurate indicator of the people’s sentiments but would not automatically translate into a voting behavior come Election Day.
“Poll surveys are not an accurate gauge of the voters’ intent and behavior,” said Alvia, noting that lagging indicators would make survey results not reflective of the current sentiments of the respondents.
He said certain political events could sway people into changing their opinion but only after a particular survey has shown a specific trend or pattern.
“Many [have jumped] into the bandwagon of using social media but look at the demographics, the Class D and E are not connected so some of the influences reach them slowly. There’s a lag,” added Alvia.
The PPCRV expressed on Monday, the need for transparency among survey companies and for more substance in the way people select their candidates. “Surveys are self-propelled so we have to be wary about where the questions are coming from,” said PPCRV representative Tony Villasor.
He said it would be superficial if people voted on the basis of survey results. “Let’s get to the substance of the matter. We have to educate voters on the good character of candidates and not form their choice solely on propaganda,” said Villasor.
The election watchdog groups said Filipino voters must be warned about the dangers of solely relying on the results of election surveys since they have been known to go for someone faring well in this area.
“So we have to relay this message to the people that these surveys, we take them as a grain of salt. Surveys are business and cost millions of pesos,” said Caritos. SFM
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