MANILA, MAY 2, 2007 (STAR) By Delon Porcalla - Due to its alleged "mercenary work" for the Genuine Opposition (GO), the administration’s Team Unity (TU) has filed a complaint against pollster Social Weather Stations (SWS) before the US-based World Association of Public Opinion Research (WAPOR).

Eastern Samar Gov. Ben Evardone, media bureau director of the administration political party, accused SWS and its head, Dr. Mahar Mangahas, a member of the WAPOR, of "engaging in unscrupulous trending practices and blatant partisanship in favor of the political opposition."

He informed WAPOR general secretary Dr. Allan McCutcheon that SWS had been doing "mercenary work for the political opposition, caused the publication (in the guise of voters’ preference) of tainted surveys that showed the non-existent and entirely fictional preference of Filipino voters" for GO bets.

In his single-page letter, Evardone described the recent SWS poll surveys as "sloppy, tainted" and so full of partisanship that they miserably failed to give Filipino voters a bigger and clearer picture of the whole Philippine political landscape.

The administration-backed Team Unity took offense at the questions SWS had employed to its respondents, which were obviously "slanted" and were nothing but "accusatory questions" that "virtually coerced the survey respondents into validating the surveys’ pro-opposition bias."

"Consider these obviously biased questions included in the SWS’ Rostov survey, to which respondents were asked to agree or disagree:

• PGMA (President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo) will cheat in the coming May 2007 elections in order for her candidates to win;

• PGMA steals from the coffers of the country;

• PGMA often lies about things that she says to the public; and

• The husband of PGMA, First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, steals from coffers of the country.

"The SWS has done a great disservice to the polling profession and is about to muddle up the Philippine elections in an obvious attempt to condition the public on the supposed victory of the opposition on May 14," Evardone explained.

"They (SWS pollsters) have been conditioning the mind of the public that the government will cheat. It’s not fair. They have always been repeating this," he told The STAR.

To further prove his point, Evardone cited the admission made by SWS that its Rostov survey was commissioned by a senator who was in charge of the nationwide campaign of GO, in obvious reference to Serge Osmeña III, but whom he didn’t name in the letter.

"In fact, public uproar over the slanted poll has reached a point that the SWS eventually came up with a press statement, which appeared in the Philippine media, admitting that their Rostov survey was commissioned by a senator who is the campaign manager of the opposition’s senatorial ticket."

Evardone partly attributed SWS "mercenary and partisan work" to its logistical woes. "This unfortunate decision to carry out mercenary and partisan work was probably influenced by financial setbacks the SWS has been encountering as of late."

He also cited the decision of Philippine TV giant ABS-CBN to "drop" the pollster as its partner, along with the reputable polling group TNS-Trends Inc., whose head, Mercedes Abad, ironically, is also a member of the WAPOR international organization.

"Polling firms are supposed to carry out clinical and unbiased surveys of voters’ sentiment and not to work as a tool in furthering partisan interests. They are supposed to be free from biases and partisanship. In all of these, SWS has failed miserably," Team Unity declared.

According to Evardone, SWS had been "fabricating brazenly" its reports that "voters across the regions in the Philippines preferred opposition candidates in most local races" when in reality, GO has "no competitive candidates in 80 percent of local races."

"These contests are actually competitions between or among candidates running under the six political parties in the pro-administration coalition. In the over 200 congressional races at stake, the opposition does not have candidates in 68 districts and only 20 percent of its limited candidates are competitive."

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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