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.