MANILA,  April 24, 2004
By Eden Estopace - A unified opposition will have better chances of winning the presidential election if independent candidate Sen. Panfilo Lacson withdraws from the race, according to the latest survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS).

Lacson, however, told STAR publisher Max V. Soliven on his Impact 2004 show on ANC television last night that he would not slide down to vice president.

The SWS survey, conducted from April 10 to 17, indicates that if Lacson withdraws, his voters’ main second choice is Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) standard-bearer Fernando Poe Jr.

Poe obtained a rating of only 30.8 percent in the latest SWS survey as against President Arroyo’s 35.3 percent. However, if Lacson, who is now trailing third with a score of 10.6 percent, backs off, 4.8 percentage points of his score will go to Poe while Mrs. Arroyo will get only 2.1 percentage points.

This would give Poe 35.6 percent of the total votes while Mrs. Arroyo’s score will shoot up to 37.6 percent, thus narrowing their difference to only 1.8 points, which the SWS said is considered a statistical tie.

On the other hand, if Poe withdraws from the race, 12.7 points of his 30.8 percent score will be transferred to Lacson, also the main second choice of Poe voters, while 8.6 points will go to Mrs. Arroyo.

This will, however, only give Lacson 4.1 points more than Mrs. Arroyo and boost his score from 10.6 percent to 23.3 percent, while Mrs. Arroyo’s will shoot up from 35.3 percent to 43.9 percent. The difference in their scores will still be a very large 20.6 percent.

In the event of a Lacson withdrawal, the balance of his votes will go to Alyansa ng Pag-asa standard-bearer Raul Roco (2.0 percent) and evangelist Eddie Villanueva (0.2 percent). In the case of a Poe withdrawal, 4.3 percentage points of his votes will go to Roco, 0.9 percent to Villanueva. The rest are undecided.

The new SWS survey, the seventh of a series of SWS pre-election surveys sponsored by Polistrat International since May 2003, used face-to-face interviews from April 10 to 17 from a national sample of 1,400 statistically representative "likely voters."

Three hundred respondents were from Metro Manila, 250 from Luzon north of Metro Manila, 250 from south Luzon, 300 from the Visayas and 300 from Mindanao. It has a margin of error of three percent.

According to the SWS, the key change in the latest pre-election survey is the score of Roco, who lost seven points of his previous score of 15 percent in the last SWS survey, conducted from March 1 to 29.

Roco, who left for the United States midway through the survey, scored only 8.4 percent in the new survey, slipping from third to fourth place among the five presidential candidates.

Another notable change is the reversal of Poe’s lead over Mrs. Arroyo. In the March 21 to 29 survey, Poe was slightly ahead of Mrs. Arroyo in the race with a score of 32 percent as against the President’s 31.4 percent.

However, in the latest survey, Mrs. Arroyo’s score jumped to 35.3 or by as much as 3.9 percent while Poe’s score went down to 30.8 or by 1.2 percentage points. Lacson had also suffered a decline in popularity as his score dropped from 11.2 percent in March to 10.6 percent in the latest survey. This, despite Roco’s score dipping by as much as seven percentage points.

It’s a different ball game altogether if Roco withdraws from the race completely.

The SWS survey showed that Mrs. Arroyo will be the top gainer in this scenario as Roco will most likely transfer 3.7 percentage points of his score to her while Poe’s and Lacson’s share of the Roco votes will only be 1.2 and 1.5 percentage points, respectively.

Although this will give Mrs. Arroyo a 2.5 percent lead over Poe, it would increase Mrs. Arroyo’s score to 39 percent while Poe’s will only increase to 32 percent, creating a seven-point lead for the administration candidate.

Interestingly, if it is Mrs. Arroyo who will withdraw from the race, her supporters will most likely also jump to Poe’s camp, not to Roco’s as had been the case in previous surveys.

Poe’s share of the Arroyo votes will be 12 percent and Roco will only get 10.2 percent. Meanwhile, Lacson and Villanueva will each get 4.3 and 2.1 percent, respectively.

This will give Poe a 42.8 percent score over Roco’s 18.6 percentage points. Lacson, meanwhile will still trail third with a score of 14.9 percent.

Poe-Lacson meeting still uncertain

The Philippine Star 04/24/2004

LIBMANAN, Camarines Sur – Any unification talks between presidential candidates Fernando Poe Jr. and Panfilo Lacson would depend on the campaign schedule of the standard-bearer of the Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP).

Speaking at the residence of supporter Mat Soriano here, Poe said he has yet to finalize his appointments next week before he could confirm a meeting with Lacson on Monday.

"I don’t know yet my schedule," he said in Filipino when asked whether he would be available for a meeting with Lacson. "I have to check my schedule. But if there should be a meeting (that would be arranged), I’ll make sure, I’ll be there." The talks with Lacson would depend on his schedule, Poe added.

In Butuan City, Lacson told reporters Poe must not set any deadline if he wants the unification talks to push through.

"I texted him last Monday, but he did not response to me," he said. "That is our agreement that I will just text him to call me. I was hoping last Monday evening that he is available. But he did not response. But last Tuesday I got sick."

Lacson said he will send a text message to Poe to find out if he would be available for a meeting on Monday. He is still hoping that he could meet with Poe. — Paolo Romero, Jose Rodel Clapano, Edu Punay

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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