SWS president Mangahas says surveys are part of free speech, people’s voice-A A +A
Thursday, March 14, 2013
TAIL-ENDER candidates are against election surveys as these will make campaign funders shy away from them, affecting their sorties.
This was revealed by Dr. Mahar Mangahas, founder and president of the Social Weather Station (SWS), yesterday during a forum called “Understanding Election Poll Surveys” organized by the University of the Philippines Cebu.
UP Cebu also organized UP Cebu Eleksyon 2013 through a committee chaired by Professor Mary Grechen F. Chaves. The members are Jason Baguia, Nelia Ereno, Demelo Lao, Magnolia A. Laus, Zenaida Ligan, Januar Yap, Ronald Pernia, Carlo Cabatingan and Franz Degamo.
“If they are leading in the surveys, more campaign funds are coming. But the
candidates must work hard, up to the last minute, to convince the people to vote for them and get a chance of winning,” Mangahas said.
Mangahas said those who are against election surveys must know that it is included in the freedom of speech as per a ruling by the Supreme Court on May 5, 2001.
Mangahas said that in the scientific surveys, respondents are chosen by random sampling from the population.
In the past, Mangahas said Section 5.4 of the Fair Election Act banned the publication of election surveys, but this was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in the SWS and Kamahalan Publishing Corp. case versus Comelec in GR. No. 147591.
He said there’s nothing wrong in asking people whom they will vote for in the May 13, 2013 election.
However, in conducting a survey, Mangahas said, the sampling must be random and they don’t accept people who volunteer.
“Surveys are less exaggerated. If you ban surveys, then why not ban exaggerated statements of candidates,” Mangahas said.
Mangahas said the Supreme Court also favored exit polls, which the SWS is conducting every election.
SWS asks voters whom they voted and the results of the Comelec ballot counts and exit polls in the 2007 and 2010 elections were almost the same.
Mangahas recalled that on April 21, 1998, the Comelec issued a secret resolution to ban exit polling. It was discovered on May 4 and on May 6, 1998, the ABS-CBN filed a petition before the SC, which granted the temporary restraining order (TRO).
In the Jan. 28, 2000 final ruling, the SC stated that exit polls form part of free expression and are entitled to constitutional protection.
“The holding of exit polls and the dissemination of their results through mass media constitute an essential part of freedoms of speech and of the press. Hence, the Comelec cannot ban them totally in the guise of promoting clean, honest, orderly and credible elections. Quite the contrary, exit polls—properly conducted and publicized—can be vital tools in eliminating the evils of election—fixing and fraud,” read the SC ruling penned by retired SC Justice Artemio Panganiban.
On the other hand, Mangahas said a survey may be important to some candidates.
“If candidates are leading in the survey, they may think of just maintaining their popularity and avoid cheating. However, candidates who are tailing may think of cheating,” Mangahas said.
But he said that a candidate who cheats should be disqualified because his act will tarnish the credibility of the election.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 14, 2013.