Noynoy’s Relatives and Cohorts Behind SWS, Pulse Asia

May 6, 2010

SENATORIAL candidate Francisco “Kit” Tatad cast doubt on Wednesday on the integrity and fairness of SWS and Pulse Asia poll surveys following his discovery that the two firms are directed and owned behind the scenes by relatives and associates of Noynoy Aquino.

Tatad bared a research paper and SEC documents that showed members of Aquino’s family and former associates of President Corazon Aquino as directors or stockholders of the corporations.

Two prominent cousins of Noynoy are named in the documents: Rafael Cojuangco Lopa and Antonio “Tonyboy” Cojuangco. Lopa is a director and president of Pulse Asia until last year, when he resigned to camouflage the firm’s support for Noynoy’s bid for the presidency.

Tonyboy Cojuangco bankrolled the setting up of Pulse Asia in 1990.

Tatad branded as unusual the presence of former DPWH secretary Jose de Jesus (under the Aquino administration) as an incorporator and director in both firms. “This suggests that there was a plan from the beginning by the Aquinos to control public opinion polling in the country,” he said.

With respect to the survey practicioners in the firms, Tatad pointed out an overlapping of names in the ownership. Felipe Miranda, Rosalinda T. Miranda, Gemino H. Abad and Mercedes R. Abad appear in SEC records as founders and/or stockholders of both SWS and Pulse Asia.

Mercedes R. Abad is the president of TRENDS-MBL, which has been conducting the field research for both SWS and Pulse Asia until recently.

The details of the interlocking directorships in the survey firms were first disclosed by Prof. Alfredo Sureta in a paper released in December 2009, but only brought to light in the Internet last week. Sureta called for the establishment of polling firms not owned by an avid Aquino supporter or an Aquino relative to “enhance not only the credibility of the science of polling in the country but also allow for a better flow of information to the voting public on the agenda and platforms of the candidates.”

Tatad said that the new revelations on ownerships/directorships add to the many doubts about SWS and Pulse Asia, which have failed to comply with the election law in providing information on how they conduct their surveys and come up with their numbers.

“We have to wonder, given this new information, whether the plan to elect Noynoy Aquino to the presidency was one big plot from the beginning, involving the survey firms,” he said.


Tatad Asks COMELEC Sanction vs Pulse Asia, SWS

April 28, 2010

Senatorial Candidate Francisco “Kit” Tatad formally asked the Commission on Elections en banc this Wednesday to enforce the Fair Election Act (Republic Act No. 9006) against Pulse Asia, SWS and other polling firms for not complying with the law’s provisions on election surveys. (See Letter to COMELEC En Banc HERE)

The former senator pointed out that the law requires polling firms and media organizations to fully disclose the identities of survey sponsors and to open their data and survey methods to candidates, political parties and the COMELEC whenever survey results are published or reported.

Tatad pointed out that Pulse Asia has repeatedly refused to disclose the sponsors of its surveys on the grounds that their contracts are “confidential.” “This is an election offense,” he said.

He also complained of the refusal of SWS to provide full information about its surveys, including questionnaires, methodologies and sponsorships, despite repeated written requests. “This is also an election offense,” he said.

Tatad said that the controversy over the surveys can only be resolved through immediate and decisive COMELEC action because the survey firms have become more brazen in releasing highly doubtful survey results.

He cited the unbelievable claim of SWS that it was able to conduct three nationwide surveys in the span of 28 days: one on March 19-22, a second one on March 28-30, and a third one on April 15-17.  “This is impossible to  do in our archipelagic and multilingual country,” he said. “Even one survey per month is a daunting task.”

He said all this only proves that the surveys are being manipulated for candidates who are paying for them. “All the contracts for the conduct of surveys should be disclosed so that the public will know who and what are really behind the surveys,” he said. #

Comelec Urged to Sanction Pulse Asia, SWS, etc.

April 23, 2010

SENATORIAL candidate Francisco “Kit” Tatad has challenged  the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to  sanction  the opinion polling firms and  media establishments for publishing and reporting pre-election surveys without disclosing their sponsors and other necessary information as required by Republic Act 9006, or the Fair Election Act of 2001.

At the same time, Tatad urged all presidential, vice presidential and senatorial candidates who are skeptical about the opinion polling of Social Weather Stations, Pulse Asia and other polling firms to demand that said firms open all their polling records for inspection, copying and verification, as authorized by law.

Section 5.2 of RA 9006 provides that  during the election period, any person, natural as well as juridical, candidate or organization who publishes a survey must likewise publish the necessary material information about  it  to enable the public to determine its reliability.

This information includes full disclosure of the name or names of the person, candidate, party or organization who commissioned or paid for the survey, and the survey methodology used, including the number of individual respondents and the areas from which they were selected, and the specific questions asked.

The law also provides  that the survey, together with the raw data gathered to support its conclusions, shall be available for inspection, copying and verification by the Comelec or by a registered political party or candidate or any Comelec-accredited citizens’ arm.

Tatad said the polling firms have been more interested in manufacturing public opinion in favor or against certain candidates, instead of measuring actual opinion.  He was particularly critical of the polling firms’ practice of  selling to candidates sponsorships of the surveys and the right to introduce their own questions, but without disclosing to the public their individual identity.

Pulse Asia says the matter is covered by a “confidentiality” agreement.  But Tatad says the fair election law requires them to disclose the names of candidate sponsors of the surveys.

Moreover, “it is an election-related expense which every candidate is required to report to the Comelec. It is also part of the polling firm’s income which must be reported when paying taxes,” Tatad said.

The former senator said that it is possible the pollsters “are selling not only the right to participate in the survey but also the right to appear in the ratings.”  This could be the explanation why some sitting senators who are widely ridiculed as completely useless Senate furniture are still rated as ‘popular’, and some nationally  known solid personalities do not figure in the charts at all.

Tatad was the first candidate to openly criticize  SWS and Pulse Asia for using “quota sampling” and “face-to-face interviews” after  these methods had been  abandoned in the United States, where over the years leading pollsters had made serious miscalls in the  presidential elections.

Several presidential candidates, notably Senators Richard Gordon and Jamby Madrigal, have since joined in criticism of local pollsters and their surveys. Some Filipino statisticians and survey science experts have also joined the issue. The tabloid press has run headlines and editorials about it, in stark contrast to the mainstream press which has not given it as much space.

Quoting American polling experts, Tatad also faulted the local pollsters for using the old  hypothetical question—-“If elections were held today, whom would you vote for, among the named candidates?” He said  the question compels even the undecided to give a “top of the head” answer;  that is why it is called  a “forced-choice question” which suppresses and distorts  the real numbers of  “undecided.”

US expert David Moore, a former Gallup vice-president, says that the practice leads to survey firms manufacturing public opinion instead of measuring it.

Tatad has accused  the polling firms of biasing their surveys to suppress  the torrid expressions of popular support that PMP presidential candidate, former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada has been getting  in all parts of  the country.

“This is why in every mammoth rally we have I always ask the crowd, whether they had been surveyed by anyone, and whether they knew of anyone who knew anyone who knew anyone who had been surveyed at all.  The  answer to this is always a great no,” Tatad said.

Tatad questioned the ability of the polling firms, notably SWS,  to come up with nationwide surveys almost within one week of each other, when independent experts maintain that one such survey normally takes two to three months to finish.

In its latest survey, SWS put the size of “undecided” at four to five percent, although in 1998, it said that one out of every voters remained undecided until election day,  while in 2004, 12 percent remained undecided and another 12 percent uncommitted until election day.   No explanation was offered for the statistical change, he noted.

Tatad said he may have found a “smoking gun” to support his charge of manipulation when someone called a radio program (Karambola) on DWIZ in Manila last week to report that an SWS interviewer in Cebu was asking his “random respondents” to choose between Manny Villar and Noynoy Aquino for president, and that when he protested  there were ten candidates to choose from, he was told that the choice had been narrowed down to two.

“It’s really a crooked business,” Tatad said.  He recalled that in 1992, upon his election to the Senate as a pro-life candidate, Mahar Mangahas of SWS showed a senators’ workshop the alleged results of a survey showing that any senator who did not support the government’s family planning program (now called “reproductive health”) would not get reelected.

“Not only was I reelected with flying colors in 1995, I also became Senate majority leader to five Senate presidents.  But that SWS presentation  had a lasting impression on me, on how polling could be used to promote certain advocacies.  Mangahas has not deviated from that course since.  He is still playing the same ugly game,” Tatad, whose pro-life work has expanded to the international scene,  added.

“In the 2004 presidential elections, Mangahas came up with an execrable exit poll in Metro Manila  that showed Mrs. Arroyo leading her rival Fernando Poe Jr. all the way. The official Comelec count, however,  showed FPJ taking all of Metro Manila, except for Las Pinas,” Tatad said.

“Despite that scandalous incident, SWS continues to do pre-election polling as though its reputation had never been tarnished,” Tatad lamented.  “In the US, the Literary Digest quietly folded up after it had erroneously predicted the defeat of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Alf Landon in 1932, and the House of Representatives as well as the US Social Science Research Council investigated Gallup, Roper and Crossley after they had unanimously but erroneously predicted that President Harry Truman would lose to Thomas Dewey in 1948,” he pointed out.  #

SWS Manipulating the Public – Tatad

April 14, 2010

Senatorial candidate Francisco “Kit” Tatad accused the Social Weather Stations (SWS) on Wednesday (April 15) of foisting on the public questionable results from two recent surveys that it supposedly conducted within a week of each other in March.

He also charged the poll survey firm with presenting dubious data on undecided and uncommitted voters, which markedly differ from clear trends already established in its own surveys for the 1998 and 2004 presidential elections.

Tatad questioned the capability of SWS to conduct separately, as it reported, its survey for Business World on March 19-22 and the survey for Rep. Ronaldo Zamora on March 28-30.

“For a firm that only started conducting its surveys in-house only a few years ago, SWS would have us believe that it can now conduct a national survey every week,” Tatad said.

“This is incredible and local polling experts say so. The work involves interviewing respondents face-to-face and house-to-house all over our far-flung archipelago, collating the data, and analyzing the results,” he pointed out. “In the past, this work usually took three months, with SWS outsourcing the survey to a professional market research firm. Now, overnight, SWS is claiming an unbelievable capability for rapid polling.”

The former senator said that he strongly suspected that SWS did not conduct separate surveys for the two commissioned jobs. “It’s possible that SWS just transferred percentages from one candidate to another to produce the second poll,” he said.

The SWS Zamora survey reported an increase of 1 percent for Villar and 2 percent for Teodoro, and a decrease of 2 percent for Estrada and 1 percent for Gordon, while retaining the same percentage for Aquino when the two survey results are compared with each other.

Tatad also questioned the stark difference in undecided voters between the recent SWS surveys and its concluding surveys for the 1998 and 2004 presidential elections.

SWS reported in its surveys for Business World and Congressman Zamora that the number of undecided is only 4 to 5 percent of voters. This differs considerably from the historical pattern of about a quarter of Filipino voters being undecided just before election day.

“No less than Mahar Mangahas himself reported that in its May 1-4 pre-election survey for the 2004 election, there were 12% undecided and 12% uncommitted,” Tatad said.

He also quoted Mangahas’ own statement that “in 1998, one out of every five voters decided on whom to vote for president only on the day of the election itself.”

“Have we Filipinos changed so much and has the country changed so dramatically over the past six years that we are more decided now for the May elections?” Tatad asked. “Or is this a case of the pollster just being more decided and committed?”

The former senator said that the statistical inconsistency is too glaring to be ignored. “The current SWS figures are incredible in light of the fact that historically and in many countries some 25 percent of voters make their decisions on who to vote for during the week of the election,” he said.
He said that the dubious data from the recent SWS surveys reinforce his earlier reports that Philippine election surveys are fatally flawed and should not be allowed to dictate on the May 10 election. #

Estrada’s support solid and surging — Tatad

April 6, 2010

With just over a month to go before Election Day, the hard  reality emerging on the campaign trail is the surging support for former President Joseph Estrada and the waning support for the other candidates, former senator and senatorial candidate Francisco “Kit” Tatad said today (Tuesday, April 6) in a briefing on the ongoing election campaign.

“Our PMP rallies are deluged by crowds with little effort to organize them,” Tatad said. “The main attraction drawing everyone to the motorcades and the campaign rallies is always Erap. We have to wade literally through the crowds to get to the campaign stage.”

In stark contrast, the other presidential candidates are all straining and spending to get enough people to watch their motorcades and attend their rallies. Often, they just scratch the motorcades for lack of people to watch them.

“While the election surveys do not accurately reflect public opinion about the presidential candidates, even these could not fully suppress the massive groundswell in favor of President Estrada,” Tatad said. “They have reported Erap as registering the biggest gain in support, while his opponents have shown losses or negligible gains.”

All this indicates, according to Tatad, that  Erap’s real strength  and electoral prospects are being underestimated. “There’s a gross mismatch between the political reality on the ground and the media reality conjured by the surveys. The media frontrunners tend to believe their own propagandists, and that is where the danger lies. They are in for a big surprise,” he said.

Senate president and senatorial candidate Juan Ponce Enrile also noted the same phenomenon of public support for former President Estrada at the end of the first month of campaigning in early March. He had not seen before the kind of numbers and enthusiasm being displayed by the crowds at PMP rallies.

Internal analysis of the numbers point to a contrast between the solid support for Estrada and the soft support for Manny Villar and Noynoy Aquino, which has perceptibly changed since the campaign began.

“There’s everything to show that Estrada’s support is firm and strong, while support for his rivals is soft and shifting,” Tatad explained.  “ Erap is getting his support mostly from the C,D,E classes, who constitute some 90 percent of the voters and who relate personally to him.  This is evident in town after town, city after city that Erap visits, either before or after the uneventful visit of some of his rivals.”

The latest proof of this, according to Tatad,  was the visit that  Aquino, Villar and Estrada respectively made with Brother Mike Velarde’s El Shaddai charismatic community during their  Easter Sunday  celebration.  Noynoy, accompanied by his celebrity-siter Kris and other siblings, got a warm burst of applause as he read his short  speech.  “But the crowd smothered Estrada with applause and cheers as soon as he appeared on stage and interacted with him all throughout his short appearance,” he observed.

Tatad forecasts major swings of support during the last month of the campaign when the undecided and still not fully committed voters make their final choices. “We predict that the bulk of these votes will go to Estrada because of his palpable and superior appeal to voters,” he said.

He suggested that we will see here the same kind of surprise sprung by the late Fernando Poe Jr, in 2004. “During the final month of that campaign, all the pollsters reported that support for President Arroyo had climbed up to 37 to 40%, while that of FPJ had fallen to below 30%,” he said. “When the actual votes were counted, FPJ swamped GMA in all of Luzon by close to 2 million votes. Only the slow tally of votes from the Visayas and Mindanao reversed the writing on the wall.”

Tatad took issue once again with local pollsters for not using modern methods of polling and observing professional and ethical standards.  “Until now the pollsters have failed or refused to disclose all necessary data about their surveys, particularly the identity of those who had paid for the survey, who conducted the survey, the  questions asked and the order in which they were asked,  including the “rider” questions contributed by secret  sponsors, the interview method used, the actual samples used and how they were chosen, the margin of error,  and the exact size of the undecided, etc.,” he said.

He opined that had there been a serious attempt to accurately measure popular  support for the national candidates by using the correct methodology , asking the right questions, and using  truly representative samples, Estrada would be leading the presidential pack in the survey, and some  candidates, from presidential to senatorial, who are “rating” high in the flawed surveys, would not rate as high.

“This is akin to the 2008 American experience when the US pollsters and media were uniformly talking of  Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton as the sure contenders in the US presidential elections until the Republican and Democratic conventions  chose John McCain and Barack Obama instead,” he said. #

Not One Voter at Erap’s Campaign Rallies Has Ever Been Surveyed – Tatad

March 29, 2010

AT every campaign rally of President Estrada and Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino – and most recently in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija — former Senator Kit Tatad always asks the thousands in the audience whether anyone of them has ever been surveyed by Pulse Asia, SWS, and other firms conducting surveys in the current campaign.

After eight weeks of Pwersa rallies in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao which millions have attended, not one voter has yet answered “Yes” to Tatad’s question.

Tatad asks who in nthe crowd has been surveyed during a Pwersa Ng Masang Pilipino Rally

When asked further whether they know of anyone who has been surveyed, the answer has been also in the negative.

In Cabanatuan City, Tatad told members of the media: “Where are these 1,800 voters that the survey firms have surveyed and whose opinions are supposed to represent our 50 million voters? Are they talking only to themselves and members of the families of their staff?”

The senatorial candidate said that there are more questions than answers coming from the polling firms, ever since he exposed last month that local pollsters are using descredited methodologies and questionable practices in their polling.

Tatad disclosed that he has written to Pulse Asia, SWS, TNS and Stratpolls for full details about their recent surveys with respect to sampling, methodology, questionnaire and sponsorship.

Tatad greets supporters in Cabanatuan

“After two weeks, only Pulse Asia has so far replied,” he said. “The others keep offering excuses. And Pulse Asia steadfastly declined to divulge the identity of sponsors on the grounds of confidentiality of its sponsorship agreements.”

Tatad contends that disclosure of the contracts is required under the election act because sponsorship of surveys is an election expense. And candidates are required by law to disclose all expenses to the Commission on Elections.

He said that if elected to the Senate, he will file a bill in Congress for the rationalization and enforcement of standards in public opinion polling in the Philippines.

“It’s time we have such a law,” he said. “If many advanced countries enforce regulations on election surveys to ensure the integrity of their democracy, even more should we protect ours from unscrupulous operators.” #


March 5, 2010

Because of the unduly large role being played by the polling agencies in choosing national and even local candidates, I am rerunning this article that first appeared during the 2004 presidential elections to help the reader gain a sober and intelligent perspective on the credibility of these agencies.

FST Documentary Service
All inquiries to Sen. Kit Tatad, Tel. No. 9283627



On May 10, 2004, after the counting of votes at the precincts, ABS-CBN began broadcasting a Quick Count. There was no attempt on the part of government to stop it. That would occur much later, when the Commission on Elections and the Department of Justice stopped ABC-Channel 5 from conducting its own count, and ordered the Daily Tribune not to carry ads containing hitherto unpublished election results supplied by the Opposition.

As of 4 a.m. of May 11, 2004, the first 1.224 million votes counted were distributed as follows:

NCR — 20.46 percent
Luzon —39.60 percent
Visayas —18.58 percent
Mindanao —21.36 percent

These were shared as follows:

Candidate National NCR Luzon Visayas Mindanao

FPJ 480,207 100,486 212,098 62,518 114,105
GMA 466,294 70,182 157,527 143,470 95,107
LACSON 202,929 56,954 80,452 18,655 46,858
ROCO 93,100 22,245 45.045 13,570 12,239
VILLANUEVA 102,249 27,102 40.973 13,254 20,920

At this time of day, Mr. Mahar Mangahas appeared at ABS-CBN to deliver the first results of the ABS-CBN/SWS exit poll. Based on 528 NCR respondents, this poll reported the following findings, as of 2:30 a.m.

GMA ————– 31 percent
FPJ ————— 23 percent
LACSON———- 20 percent
VILLANUEVA—10 percent
ROCO————– 8 percent
NO ANSWER—– 7 percent

Notice the big difference between the Quick Count’s figure and this one. Yet the votes of SWS’s 528 respondents tried to reverse the impact of the 276,969 NCR voters who had put FPJ ahead of GMA by at least 30,304 votes. In the SWS survey, FPJ was now 8 percent behind.

Mangahas did not find his NCR poll conclusive. In a text message to Ms. Susan Tagle, FPJ’s communications aide, received at 3:30 a.m. of May 11, 2004, Mangahas said:

“Frm Mahar: Sori 2 disappoint. She has lead, but inconclusiv sins many kept silent. Ds is ncr only. On d way to abs now. “

Despite such inconclusiveness, he submitted the results anyway.

Given the wide discrepancy between its own Quick Count and the SWS survey, ABS-CBN management did not quite know how to proceed. They could not possibly present to the public two sets of conflicting data and still claim any credibility. According to inside informants, Mr. Dong Puno could not decide, so they woke up Mr. Gaby Lopez at 5:30 a.m. But Mr. Lopez himself could see no way out either.

Someone then proposed that the Quick Count be made to support the thrust of the SWS survey, which would eventually show GMA leading FPJ nationwide. They proposed to revise the geographic distribution of the vote count, by increasing the percentage for the Visayas (where GMA was leading FPJ) and bringing down the percentage for NCR, Luzon and Mindanao (where she was trailing FPJ).

The proposed new distribution was as follows:

NCR — 18.38 percent
LUZON — 35.84 percent
VISAYAS — 26.05 percent
MINDANAO— 19.73 percent

This proposal was accepted, and Mr. Lopez immediately left for the United States.

At 7:18 a.m. same day, the Quick Count showed the following results:

Candidate National NCR Luzon Visayas Mindanao

GMA 587,027 76,893 168,555 237,616 103,963
FPJ 562,976 105,646 229,033 102,709 125,588
LACSON 231,195 60,273 88,685 29,525 52,712
ROCO 109,902 24,270 47,925 24,150 13,557
VILLANUEVA 122,881 29,618 44,211 26,406 22,646

Just by readjusting the geographic distribution of the count, GMA was able to wipe out her deficit of 22,903 votes at the 4 a.m. report, and post a lead of 24,051 votes at the 7:18 a.m. count. This tends to show that GMA had posted an additional 46,954 votes while FPJ posted zero. In reality, neither the votes nor the margins in NCR, Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao changed; only the percentage distribution of the votes did. Perception of reality changed, but not reality itself.

As of 7:18 a.m. of May 11, the Quick Count had counted a total 1,613,981 actual votes for all the presidential candidates. In this count, FPJ led GMA in NCR, Luzon, and Mindanao. The only place where GMA led FPJ was the Visayas whose percentage share of the count had been changed, from 18.58 to 26.05 percent.

At 1:00 p.m. of the same day, however, the SWS exit poll, using a base of 4,627 respondents, reported the following results:

Candidate National NCR N/Cen. Luzon So. Luzon Visayas Mindanao

GMA 41% 31% 32% 24% 62% 50%
FPJ 32 23 41 38 21 35
LACSON 9 20 9 11 4 5
ROCO 5 8 2 11 3 2
VILLANUEVA 5 10 5 6 2 4
NO ANSWER 8 7 11 9 7 4

Notice that GMA now leads FJP everywhere, except Luzon.

This trend has since migrated to the Namfrel count.

Namfrel has clearly adopted the same formula used by ABS-CBN and SWS. Simply by concentrating its Quick Count on areas where GMA has more votes than FPJ, while delaying the count in bigger areas where FPJ is leading GMA by wide margins, it is able to show GMA leading FPJ across the nation.

Thus, as of 4 p.m., May 17, Namfrel already counted 1.68 million or 51.13 percent of the 3.29 million votes of Region VII, while counting only 1.19 million of Metro Manila’s 6.9 million votes, and an average of 22.12 percent for the other regions..

In Central Luzon, where FPJ’s advantage was never disputed, except in Mrs. Arroyo’s home province of Pampanga, the same Namfrel report showed Mrs. Arroyo leading FPJ, 693,461 to 252,794. The only possible explanation was that the votes were taken mostly, if not entirely, from Pampanga.

This manipulation of public perceptions need not automatically affect the integrity of the entire data, if there were no attempt to change the same. But it is precisely part of the operation to alter the data. Once the trend is accepted, even the most militant would tend to drop their guard, and accept anything that follows, even if it was the result of invention or fraud.

The twin motu proprio orders of the Department of Justice and the Commission on Elections stopping the independent broadcast by ABC-Channel 5 of the results of elections, and the refusal by the pro-Arroyo newspapers to carry paid advertisements by the KNP containing hitherto unreported results of the elections, followed now by the Comelec order to the Daily Tribune not to carry the same ads – all these must be seen in this light. They are an integral part of the effort to steal the elections.

In the past, such attack on press freedom and the right of the people to be informed on matters of public concern would have ignited a rebellion in the ranks of the press. Not now. The mainstream media, both print and broadcast, have chosen to look the other way, while two of their own must fight for their freedoms. This shows the depth of the sinful collaboration between so many media owners and the administration. This has become the gravest danger to the democratic system.