What Pulse Asia failed to say

Suppose we grant as highly probable the results of the latest Pulse Asia Survey that place the following candidates in the presidential race – Noli de Castro, Francis Escudero, Joseph Estrada, and Manuel Villar – on top of the totem pole. If this happens, there may be a drastic cut in election spending – both for the winnables as well as the un-winnables. And if these savings can only be pooled together, there could have been awesome number of projects that could be built on the ground. But precisely because surveys are just surveys that made statistics the dismal science that academics think it is, no serious candidate will hold back on how much to spend to run a smooth and hopeful campaign – just no one. Villar for one, will have to part with his own P1 billion just to throw caution in the air.

All those who tail behind the 4th like – Loren Legarda, Manuel Roxas, Panfilo Lacson, Jejomar Binay, and Bayani Fernando – call them runner ups, might do well to retreat, quit, or drop. But would any one do so?

Come to think of it, the percentages in various geographical locations appear to have been fairly if evenly distributed amongst the four presidentiables with Escudero getting 27% in Metro Manila and 23% from the Class A,B,C; Villar monopolizing Visayas at 25%; De Castro grabbing 24% from Mindanao and 19% from Class E; Estrada scoring 23% from Mindanao and 20% from Class E. Luzon is for De Castro at 19%, for Escudero at 17%, for Estrada at 17%, for Legarda at 15% and for Villar at 14%.

The results of this Pulse Asia Survey have been ranged against such issues as the exchange of bribery allegations between DOJ and PDEA, the alleged cartel in the WB road projects, the planned COMELEC automation, the vicious revival of charter change, and the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Needless to mention, as soon as the whole spectrum of issues would have been changed, their respective ranking order might likewise drastically change. So in the end, these tentative scores have no bollards to tie on one’s moorings.

In other corollary surveys, however, the top 3 emerging are Villar, Legarda and De Castro for the presidential candidates for 2010. And with a lot of changes that are yet to occur, it is not as if figures coming out from every self-respecting polling circuit can be a reliable barometer in determining one’s winnability.

But even assuming that the final names in the field will be those accordingly ranked, it simply means that winnability is no longer based on a higher set of criteria any more than the gift of name recall, popularity, and media hypnosis.

From where I stand, a voting population of approximately about 40 million is not given the widest latitude of choices from which to choose the best candidate. Truth to tell, these candidates are already overstaying politicians who have served the maximum of 3 terms in Congress – all equivalent to 9 long years in politics. And then they became senators to circumvent the requirements imposed by law. Now they want to be president since they will not be leaving their seats in the Senate even should they lose – again by technicalities in law. As these laws were thought out by them, so do these laws but self-benefit them.

These are the candidates, sadly stating, whom we now see are making themselves available. If their past roles and performances be the gauge, we have very little reason to issue to them their re-appointments papers. In fact, as employer, the taxpayers may have to terminate their services already – not just some of them but all of them – in order to pave the way for a new cycle of recruitment that will separate the grain from the chaff.

How indeed do we go about choosing which one of 4? Why not Noli? Why not Erap? Why not Villar? Why not Escudero? We have a possibly shared worldview of each one of them making each one of them more of a liability. It would have been easier to pick up from an entirely clean pack.

How do we test fitness or suitability of a De Castro given the historical memory of his middle-of-the-road position in our state of affairs? In the case of Escudero, can we reconcile his central oppositionist role when a congressman with his kid punches, if any, now that he has become senator? Why even include Erap who already promised not to run? Villar might need a total make-over to delete from public memory his alleged involvement in a case of double-entry into the budget of C5.

All of them bore ‘tattoos’ which identify the world from which they came. They bore remarkable scars on their ‘perceptual bodies’ that remind us of the wars or pseudo wars they fought in. They echo the same promises which elicit images of moral decay, vicious perpetuity, and unmitigated corruption.

And this is so since Pulse Asia in trying to extract from respondents whom they want to be president simply supplied a short list to choose from. In other words, in supplying the names to pick one from, the answers are half-way known as they may have wished the final outcome to assign ranking order to priorly submitted names. This being so, the latest survey satisfied no higher purpose unless it only aims to do so-called ‘operant conditioning’, pray tell.