By Jess Diaz — Opposition presidential hopeful Sen. Panfilo Lacson accused the Social Weather Stations (SWS) yesterday of fabricating its survey of presidential aspirants last month.

He told journalists covering his campaign sortie here that he and House Minority Leader Carlos Padilla, his lone senatorial candidate, have talked to an Iglesia ni Cristo district minister in this province who told them that INC members do not participate in surveys to avoid giving an impression of disunity in their ranks.

"In the SWS poll before the latest one, the respondents allegedly included INC members. Since they don’t participate in opinion polls as the INC district minister told us, it is obvious that the results were manipulated or fabricated. Plucked out of thin air yung resulta," he said.

SWS, which is headed by Prof. Mahar Mangahas, is one of two well-known poll-taking groups. The other is Pulse Asia, led by Prof. Felipe Miranda.

Lacson said his accusation of manipulation or fabrication "is not an indictment of Prof. Mangahas, who probably is not aware of what is happening with the tabulation of the results, where the anomaly could have happened."

He said the results of SWS and Pulse Asia nationwide surveys "always conflict with local polls taken in Cavite, Batangas, Laguna, and even here in Pangasinan, which show that President Arroyo is a poor third." He did not say who conducted the local surveys or what his showing was.

The former Philippine National Police chief expressed elation over the revelation of an SWS survey respondent that while her interviewer told her that Lacson was the interviewees’ choice, he came out a poor fourth when the results were released.

Evangeline Lim, a Chinese-Filipino housewife from San Juan, told a news conference on Monday that the unnamed interviewer confided to her that she would vote for former senator Raul Roco.

But she said the polltaker told her that Lacson was the favorite of most of the respondents SWS had assigned her to interview, and that Mrs. Arroyo and movie actor Fernando Poe Jr. were hardly mentioned.

She said the survey was taken in January.

Lim added that she unhesitatingly answered, "Ping Lacson" when asked who she would vote for president.

Lacson also said he enjoys public support much wider than the SWS and Pulse Asia surveys reflect.

"I am definitely worth more than 11.2 percent (as the latest SWS poll reflected), judging by the reception I and Caloy Padilla get in the more than 20 provinces that we have visited in more than 50 days of campaigning," he said.

He said if he believed that his following was only that much, he would have given up his presidential bid a long time ago.

"You would have already taken a vacation or (be) covering another candidate," he told journalists hounding him.

As for the proposal of National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales that the party-list group Bayan Muna and other organizations allied with the Communist Party of the Philippines should be banned from participating in the elections, Lacson said the suggestion "is politically motivated since these groups are not Mrs. Arroyo’s supporters."

"They would not vote for me, either, but I don’t care. They should be given the chance to prove themselves in an electoral process. After all, the Constitution requires that all sectors should be represented in Congress," he said.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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