A SURVEY conducted in December suggested a close contest in the mayoral and congressional elections in Cebu City.

Former Cebu Provincial Board member Roberto “Babbit” Ybañez called a press conference yesterday to release the results of a survey he said was conducted from Dec. 7 to 14, among 1,500 respondents.

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The survey showed at least three pairs of candidates in statistical ties: Mayor Tomas Osmeña and businessman Jonathan Guardo in the congressional race in the south district; Barangay Captain Mary Ann de los Santos and Rachel del Mar in the north district’s congressional election; and Vice Mayor Michael Rama and former mayor Alvin Garcia in the mayoral contest.

Ybañez said he cannot name the candidate for a national position who commissioned the survey nor the local survey group, because he has no authority to do so.

“I am not part of the survey group. I just facilitated it, upon the request of the candidate who commissioned it. And I was also requested to release the results for the Dec. 7-14 survey period,” Ybañez said.

Choices

The survey involved 1,500 respondents, evenly split between the two districts. Cebu City has about 521,000 registered voters.

Fifty-five percent of the survey respondents last month reportedly picked Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III for president; followed by Sen. Manuel “Manny” Villar, 27.5 percent; Joseph Estrada, eight percent; Gilberto Teodoro Jr., six percent; Eddie Villanueva, 0.9 percent; Sen. Richard Gordon, 0.2 percent; Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, 0.2 percent; and Vice President Noli de Castro, 0.1 percent.

For vice president, Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas emerged as the majority of the respondents’ choice, at 67.2 percent; followed by Sen. Loren Legarda, 21 percent; Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, 4.0 percent; Edu Manzano, 2.0 percent; and Bayani Fernando, 1.0 percent.

Ybañez pointed out the survey was done before the deadline for the substitution of candidates and before Garcia formally filed his certificate of candidacy and Samuel Darza withdrew from the mayoral race.

The survey, he said, showed former mayor Garcia gaining 46 percent of the respondents’ support; followed by Rama, 43 percent; Georgia Osmeña, three percent; and Darza, one percent.

Margin

The survey’s sampling margin of error is plus-minus five percent, which means Garcia and Rama were “statistically tied” at the time the respondents were interviewed. (The survey’s confidence level could not be confirmed as of press time.)

“I am very gratified because I have been keeping a low profile for the past years and some people say I have already been forgotten. We should not be too confident but it’s an indication na wala pa gyud ko kalimti sa mga katawhan (that people have not forgotten me),” he said.

Garcia also said the study was not commissioned by his party Kugi Uswag Sugbo (Kusug).

“It’s not Kusug but I know it was done by one of our backers, a high-ranking official from Manila,” he said, without giving names.

Osmeña, leader of the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK), said via text message: “You should always be suspicious of survey results used as propaganda.

This happens every election. I have been through this every election since 1988. And BOPK has its own ways of winning elections; that’s because we show our performance and not survey results.”

Rama, the Liberal Party’s (LP) candidate for mayor, said he is not bothered by the survey results released yesterday.

“It would be wrong to say their survey is inaccurate, but I am very sure also about our survey, which shows we are leading. I am not bothered at all because BOPK candidates have been working and will continue to work very hard,” he said.

For vice mayor, LP candidate Joy Young reportedly topped December’s survey with 50 percent; followed by lawyer Aristotle Batuhan, 21 percent; Alvin Garcia, 16 percent; Eugenio Gabuya Jr., seven percent; Emmanuel Pacquiao, two percent; Michael Rama, one percent; and Georgia Osmeña 0.1 percent.

In an interview, Young said the administration party received information that Government Service Insurance System President Winston Garcia was behind the survey.

“Kusug candidates are losing based on perception alone; they are perceived to be weak. From what we heard, this survey that was released is what the PR group has come up with. We also heard that Winston is the one behind this, but I have no way to confirm it,” Young said.

Surprise

In the south congressional post, the survey reportedly showed Osmeña gaining 50 percent, while Guardo got 48 percent. Again, with a five percent margin of error, the two are statistically tied.

“Statistically, the top two candidates (Osmeña and Guardo) are almost even. That’s surprising to me in Cebu City. Because the survey has only 750 respondents (per district), it’s possible that the statistical tie is in the margin of error,” Ybañez said.

“While I am saying this is the result of the survey, it’s possible that’s not what actually is,” he added.

When asked to comment, Guardo said the survey result is a cause of concern for Osmeña.

“Maybe that is why he is determined to run after me by filing libel suits, and not only running against me in an election. If you try to read the sentiment of the Cebu City people, you will know that they need a new direction and a new leadership in the coming election,” Guardo said.

In the north district, del Mar got 44 percent of the respondents’ support, while de los Santos got 41 percent—another statistical tie.

In separate interviews, Alvin Garcia, Guardo and candidate for north district councilor Raymond Garcia would not confirm if Winston Garcia commissioned the survey.

Raymond said, though, that the results are encouraging for Kusug, especially for his father Alvin, considering that it was done before the latter decided to run for mayor.