MANILA, March 15, 2004
(STAR) The camp of President Arroyo is influencing the surveys "at the field level" by dispensing "government largesse" in several localities nationwide where the pollsters are about to conduct their surveys, Alyansa ng Pag-asa campaign manager Jaime Galvez Tan said last Friday.

Tan cited the analysis of Butch Africa, a statistician at the United Nations Satistical Institute based in Tokyo, as to why Mrs. Arroyo’s popularity rating has been gaining considerably in the latest surveys. Africa, as Tan described his background, is an "international civil servant" who once served as director-general of the National Statistics Office (NSO).

"So this is an opinion by one of the world experts on statistics and electoral surveys," Tan said , adding that Africa has "personal notes coming from two departments, the Department of Budget and Management and the NSO itself, (which show that) before the pollsters arrive at a certain locality, they (the Arroyo camp) already know where the pollsters are going. And that’s where they distribute PhilHealth (cards), PVAO and Study-Now-Pay-Later (scholarships), in order to influence the respondents."

According to Africa’s e-mail, which Tan provided to the media, "(Mrs. Arroyo) is faring well in the surveys (because) she is going to the areas where the voting-age population is heavy, complete with government largesse and dole-outs to citizens large enough to show some meaningful volume of government action." The "areas" visited by the Arroyo camp, Africa’s letter read, are "domains of Pulse Asia, from (which) the Social Weather Stations areas (do) not significantly vary." They include the vote-rich provinces of Pangasinan, which has a voting population of 1.39 million; Bulacan, 1.32 million; and Cavite, 1.23 million.

Tan said the beneficiaries cannot automatically avail themselves of these benefits.

"On the PhilHealth side, I just got a call from a doctor in Camarines Norte that the PhilHealth cards distributed by GMA are not being honored. Because when the card is presented to the hospital, the hospital calls the PhilHealth regional office, which then confirms that the card is not yet activated," he said.

Tan said this strategy "torpedos the surveys" and exposes their "vulnerability, so that even the answers of the respondents can change."

He pointed out that the poll firms "will stand by the results, they will stand by the integrity of their analysis. But the key is at the level of the interviewers. Can they guarantee integrity at the level of the inteviewer?...[That’s why] I call on everyone to be aware of this panlilinlang [deception] by (Mrs. Arroyo)."

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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