Friday, May 7, 2010

SWS and Pulse Asia in violation of R.A. 9006?

ARE the Social Weather Stations (SWS) and Pulse Asia in violation of the Fair Election Act (Republic Act No. 9006)? While it is true that  SWS managed to make section 5.4 of the act declared unconstitutional, which means they can publish surveys even up to election day, they're still not complying with important provisions of the law--those stipulated under sections 5.2 and 5.3.

       Sec. 5.2 of Rep. Act 9006 stipulates that the following information be provided with every published election surveys:
            (a) The name of the person, candidate, party or organization who commissioned or paid for the survey;
            (b) The name of the person, polling firm or survey organization who conducted the survey;
            (c) The period during which the survey was conducted, the methodology used, including the number of individual respondents and the areas from which they were selected, and the specific questions asked;
            (d) The margin of error of the survey;
            (e) For each question for which the margin of error is greater than that reported under paragraph (d), the margin of error for that question; and
            (f) A mailing address and telephone number, indicating it as an address or telephone number at which the sponsor can be contacted to obtain a written report regarding the survey in accordance with Subsection 5.3.
 Former Sen. Kit Tatad recently charged that polling firms have been in violation of the Fair Election law for refusing to abide by the full disclosure provisions of said law. SWS and Pulse Asia, he said, have been committing election offenses for failure to publish all needed data to enable public determination of the reliability of survey results. Despite repeated formal requests, the former senator says that SWS refuses to provide all the legally required information on questionnaires, methodologies, sponsorships, etc. as Pulse Asia insists on keeping its sponsors 'confidential.'

An important as the provision in section 5.2 is the one stipulated in section 5.3, which requires no less than RAW DATA from the survey firms. The relevant part of the one-paragraph section goes as"

"The survey together with 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 a bona fide candidate, or by any COMELEC-accredited citizen’s arm."

Electoral survey firms are not supplying raw data either. What is more disturbing is how the Commission on Elections seems to be ignoring the violations. This has prompted Sen. Tatad to formally ask COMELEC  en banc to enforce the Fair Election Act on SWS and Pulse Asia, along with other polling firms.

It does not take much gray matter to figure out why the law asks polling firms to provide the public with raw data and other information such as the methodologies and questionnaires used, along with sponsorships. Unverifiable, unreliable surveys fed into the public consciousness constitute a dangerous tool of poll trending. Instead of merely measuring voting preferences and  other forms of opinions and perceptions, false survey results can serve as a tool of electoral bandwagon/trending conditioning to favor certain candidates.

Surveys play an important role in modern-day democracies. However their misuse becomes a dangerous tool of controlling public opinion that is counter to the essence of the concept of fair play and empowerment of the people. The Fair Election Act clearly requires SWS and Pulse Asia to make their survey information public but they chose to be secretive about certain data. It does not take a lawyer to see the survey poll bodies' electoral offense. So why is COMELEC not implementing the law?

Perhaps, a better question is why the survey firms continue to refuse to disclose the required information. In the current presidential race, the pre-electoral surveys of both SWS and Pulse Asia almost decisively and consistently show Liberal Party's Noynoy Aquino as front-runner. By opting to be secretive in apparent violation of the R.A.9006, are these two mainstream survey outfits actually trending for the yellow candidate? Nagtatanong lamang po.


by Jesusa Bernardo

References at SOBRIETY for the PHILIPPINES


manuelbuencamino said...


Pulse Asia says on its website that you can request and they will furnish the required information.

Tatad is only sourgraping. I don;t see Erap or Binay complaining, do you?

Jesusa Bernardo said...

Hi MB.

I'm surprised how come you haven't heard of the complaints and even threats of legal cases by presidential/vice-presidential candidates--Estrada, Gordon, Perlas, Legarda.

To quote, just from Manila Times:
"Angara said that surveys are primarily meant to guide candidates in pinpointing the areas where they are weak and in determining the issues working for or against them.

“With the elections just 17 days away, surveys are no longer guides to the candidates. They are nothing but trending,” he said.

There have been claims by former President Joseph Estrada and Senators Richard “Dick” Gordon and Loren Legarda that surveys are being manipulated and that they do not really represent the sentiments on the ground."

Jesusa Bernardo said...

Re SWS/Pulse Asia's refusal to disclose all required survey info, here are excerpts from Tatad's letter:

"Pulse Asia has declared that their contracts with their candidate-clients are confidential and cannot be disclosed.

SWS and the other survey firms have ignored our repeated requests for copies of their survey reports and for the opportunity to examine their raw data and processes in conducting surveys."

-full letter to COMELEC here.

GabbyD said...

i think this is uncharacteristic of SWS, to ignore requests for data/info. they have a library, i wonder if tatad's people have tried to go there directly...

if its true that they arent disclosing, then they should be taken to task for it.

baycas2 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jesusa Bernardo said...

It would have been political suicide of sorts if Sen. Tatad's accusations were false or that he didn't know what he was talking.

I say Probably true.

Jesusa Bernardo said...

Also, GabbyD, there's an interestingly relevant article in the Daily Tribune yesterday, to quote:

"If there was any doubt that the Social Weather Stations (SWS) was into mind-conditioning, and perhaps even manipulating the results of a presidential candidate that it is supporting, doubt no more.

There can hardly be any doubt left today — not after the still dubious survey results that were supposed to be embargoed for a newspaper, the BusinessWorld, to print for Friday’s issue, were deliberately leaked to the Liberal Party standard bearer, Sen. Noynoy Aquino, in time for the other media establishments to quickly carry the results, showing the LP bet widening his lead, with a 42 percent survey score."

manuelbuencamino said...


The methofology etc of Pulse Asia and SWS are available on request.

What they keep confidential are the contracts and the special rider questions that cabdidates pay for to guide theur campaign strategies.

Angara's comment is wrong. A survet taken in the last two weeks, even the last week on a specific rider question could be used for the candidate's final push.

And speaking of push, I know for a fact that Pulse Asia does not do "push polls." They will not under any circumstances do it.

Erap and Loren have both welcomed surveys when the results were to their liking.

As to Tatad, he is blowing smoke out of his ass. That's a craft he learned as a Marcos mouthpiece.

Jesusa Bernardo said...


SWS and Pulse Asia, despite Tatad's letter to the Comelec, hasn't addressed the issue(s) contained therein.

That speaks a lot. No matter Tatad's Martial Law history.

By the way, Tatad resigned from Marcos long before Fidel V. Ramos did.

manuelbuencamino said...


Marcos got rid of Tatad. He wanted to become the kingpin of Catanduanes but Marcos did not think he was ready for it so he left, much to Marcos' relief.

The issues raised by Tatad are bogus. Tatad is bogus.

I do not claim to speak for SWS or Pulse Asia but I have had interactions with Pulse Asia and I know that Ana Tabunda is a decent person who will never allow herself and her profession to be used for political purposes. I cannot give the same character reference for Kit Tatad.

Jesusa Bernardo said...

I'd rather focus on the issues, MB. I say it's immaterial attacking Tatad instead of focusing on the issue.

Ana Tabunda, did you know, made a very irresponsible, sweeping, unscientific statement months back that Erap will supposedly have very little chance to catch up based on his then low survey standings and Noynoy's high. From the Daily Tribuhne:

In a dzMM radio program last Saturday, Tabunda, being interviewed by Henry Omaga-Diaz who asked her whether former President Joseph Estrada — whose ratings have dropped probably due to the issue of his being disqualified — still had a chance to go up in ratings if the SC resolves the issue of disqualification, as FPJ’s ratings did, after the SC decision.

The answer given by Tabunda was shocking, in that she said there was little chance of it, since the gap between Estrada and Sen. Noynoy Aquino, who had a 44 percent rating in the October Pulse survey, was too big and Noynoy was already way ahead of the other presidentiables.

This answer was in the context of this particular question and the answer given by Tabunda.

In essence, what Tabunda was saying was that no one can dislodge Aquino, which was a very biased reply, given the fact that there are at least five more months before polling day, apart from the fact that neither she nor Pulse has any survey data on how the electorate will be voting in the next surveys, or for that matter, during the elections. And yet Tabunda has practically given her biased opinion that the unchangeable winner in the 2010 polls will be Aquino, since no one candidate can be expected to dislodge him in their surveys.

MB, anybody objective enough will think otherwise of Pulse Asia and Ms. Ana Maria Tabunda. :)

Jesusa Bernardo said...

From Ms. Francesca Tatad-To:

"As for Tatad being fired by Marcos, the truth is that he resigned 3 times from the Marcos cabinet before his resignation was finally accepted. He resigned because he wanted Catanduanes to be free to choose a leader that represented the people (not himself), not because he wanted to rule it.... Catandunganons can attest to this.

"It has been many years since Tatad left Marcos and he has not since, despite 2 stints in the Senate, attempted to control Catanduanes. He has, however, continued to show his love and loyalty to his home province."

Jesusa Bernardo said...

From Ms. Francesca Tatad-To:

Letters were sent to Pulse Asia, SWS, and 3 other polling firms about 6 weeks ago to request this data (I don't have the dates with me unfortunately but can furnish these once the secretary returns). Letters were signed by Francisco Tatad personally. Only Pulse Asia replied and this reply did not include information regarding the identity of the person/party commissioning the survey. Our office has followed up with these polling firms every week since our original letter was sent out and our requests have been ignored.

So while the survey firms may claim that this information is available, it was not provided to us despite our repeated requests (even though this issue has been raised in media during the campaign).