The original phrase reads, “lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Initially attributed to British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), it was later quoted by Mark Twain, Walter Bagehot, Arthur James Balfour, Henry Du Pre Labouchere, Jervoise Athelstane Baines, Leonard Courtney, Winston Churchill, among other famous personalities. It recently appeared as the epigraph of an article written by Gil Ramos, Ph. D., a Filipino data scientist living in the US West Coast, who raised serious questions about the credibility of the two polling firms in the Philippines, Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations. It slammed the use of “surveys” for propaganda purposes, specifically to manufacture rather than measure public opinion in favor or against certain political personalities.
I have called these surveys a blunt instrument for the idiotization of the Filipino masses, notably the voters. They are routinely inflicted on the ignorant and the gullible, and even on the not-so-ignorant and yet so gullible, with the obscene collaboration of the complicit and superficial media and other tools of mass deception and mass hypnosis. Recent and ongoing developments have reconfirmed and reinforced this analysis, thereby aggravating the nation’s increasing moral and political blindness.
I have a healthy respect for honest, professional polling. But not for “push polls” and manufactured surveys that stink. In a while, we shall talk a little more about these. But just as no self-respecting entrepreneur would invest money in a new product without first ascertaining whether or not there is a market for it, no self-respecting politician would announce his bid for any office without first ascertaining whether any portion of the public is aware of him and his intrinsic merits. This is where market research or honest and scientific polling has its uses. I myself have availed of it.
In 1978, I was on my ninth year as the youngest person in the Marcos Cabinet, and the President asked me to run for the Batasang Pambansa. Then, as now, I did not see myself as a politician, so I tried to beg off. I didn’t slap people’s backs, nor tell green jokes, nor laugh at jokes that weren’t funny, I told the President, so I would be the wrong person for it. But it was the first election of the New Society, he said, (martial law did away with elections in 1972), and I was “the spokesman of the New Society,” so I had to run. It was not a request, but a command, so I had to submit.
As it was to be a regional election, my problem was, although I knew I was a Bicolano, the Bicolanos did not know who I was. So I had to go down to Bicol to make myself known to the Bicolanos. After a month or so, I ran a survey to find out whether I was registering, not as a potential candidate in an election that was yet to be announced, but simply as a Bicolano. The result was positive, and I used it to help me decide whether or not to run, but not to advertise myself as a potential candidate.
This is not what’s happening right now.
Rich and ambitious non-entities pay off the entrepreneurial pollsters to put them on the list of those whom the public would allegedly like to see in the Senate, even before the senatorial candidates are officially nominated. Or, the pollsters themselves solicit the business of the interested parties and come up with simulated or manufactured surveys to award favorable ratings to the paying parties. In the case of the presidential polls, the fraudsters do not even bother to find out whether the names they include in their manufactured or manipulated surveys are all eligible for the office, pursuant to the constitutional requirement that no person may be elected president or vice-president, unless he is, among others, a natural-born citizen, which means one who is a Philippine citizen from birth, without having to perform an act to acquire or perfect his citizenship.
The most scandalous proof of this is the persistent effort to portray Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares as the alleged front-runner in the alleged presidential surveys supposedly commissioned and paid for by a penurious newspaper, despite the fact that she is not even a natural-born Filipino under the Constitution, and therefore not fit to remain in the Senate, as stated in the quo warranto suit before the Senate Electoral Tribunal by petitioner Rizalito David and his counsel Manuelito Luna, or to run for president or vice president.
If the propaganda pollsters really want to find out what Filipinos really think about Mrs. Llamanzares, they should run a survey among individuals who understand what the Constitution says about natural-born citizens, and know that Mary Grace Poe Llamanzares was born a foundling without any known parentage or citizenship, and ask them whether citizens should follow the clear language and the “dura lex sed lex” mandate of the Constitution or the unverified and unverifiable claims of so-called popularity polls. The choice is between the constitutional process and a con game. And in many instances, the opinion polls have been used as a con-game.
Thus, yesterday’s Philippine Star page 2 story claimed: “Poe tops Pulse Asia survey for president, VP.”
“Sen. Grace Poe remains the leading candidate for president and vice president in the May 2016 elections, according to the latest Pulse Asia survey.
“Poe topped the Sept. 8 to 14 survey for most preferred candidates for president, Pulse Asia said yesterday.
“Poe would be elected president by 26 percent of Filipinos if the 2016 were held during the survey period, Pulse Asia said.”
If indeed a real survey was conducted, among individuals who understood that Mrs. Llamanzares’s constitutional eligibility is under serious dispute because of her lack of citizenship, the pollsters should have asked the respondents whether or not they cared about this issue at all, and if they didn’t, the pollsters should have reported that 26 percent of those interviewed——not 26 percent of 50 million Filipino voters—-would still choose Mrs. Llamanzares, whether or not she was constitutionally eligible for the office.
The day before that, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the paper whose gatekeepers have the arrogance to say that nothing is news until you read it in the PDI, bannered a non-story saying, “More lawyers back Poe on citizenship,” accompanied by a commentary by one Oscar Franklin Tan, whom the paper identified as its legal commentator, saying that Mrs. Llamanzares’ continued use of her US passport after she had supposedly renounced her US citizenship and taken an oath of allegiance to the Philippines was irrelevant to the question of her citizenship.
The paper gave the impression that an army of lawyers had come out of the woodwork to supply evidence which Mrs. Llamanzares’ counsel had earlier failed to provide the SET, and which should now convince Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Justices Arturo Brion and Teresita de Castro as well as any of the six senator-judges whose understanding of and loyalty to the Constitution transcend all partisan and other personal considerations, that an infant born with no known parentage, nationality or citizenship could still become a natural-born citizen later in life by participating in a beauty contest.
The paper failed to produce the army of lawyers, or any novel theory or doctrine that transcends or overturns Sec. 2, Article IV of the Constitution, which says, “Natural-born citizens are those who are citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship.” It quoted with ease the statement of former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban, who referred to Article 2 of the 1961Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, which provides that, “A foundling found in the territory of a Contracting State shall, in the absence of proof to the contrary, be considered to have been born in the territory of parents possessing the nationality of the State.”
But it failed to point out that said Convention came into force long after Mary Grace was born and found, and that the Philippines has not acceded to it, and is not therefore a “contracting party” to it, until now. The Nobel laureate Albert Camus warns against “quoting without judging;” even retired jurists as well as leading national newspapers of a certain class would do well to remember that.
As for the PDI legal commentator Tan, he calls those who question Mrs. Llamanzares’ citizenship status as “haters of our favorite foundling,” and sneers at petitioner Rizalito David’s counsel Manuelito Luna by asking “who is this lawyer Luna belatedly hounding Poe?” He appears to be in desperate search of personal motives to explain why some people want Mrs. Llamanzares disqualified from seeking an office for which she is not eligible under the Constitution.
I was the first one to point out that Mrs. Llamanzares is not a natural-born Filipino. I have written the most number of articles on this issue, too. But until I saw how much lying she has done under oath, I was prepared to say that without the constitutional issue hounding her, I would have been among her foremost admirers and would have supported her. So why suggest hate at all? I do not even hate PNoy, why should I hate her? Neither, I believe, does Rizalito David or Manuelito Luna. It is a terribly small mind that wants to reduce an issue as large as a presidential candidate’s constitutional ineligibility for the office into a personal thing.
Tan does Mrs. Llamanzares no great service when he says: “She became a Philippine-US dual citizen in 2006. She swore an oath of allegiance to the Philippines in 2010 as chair of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board…The day before she swore her oath of office on Oct. 21, 2010, to President Aquino, Poe filed a sworn affidavit that she was renouncing her US citizenship. But she filed this with the Philippine Bureau of Immigration and Deportation, not with the US government.”
This has the same effect as the various falsified or flawed documents submitted by the defense counsel to the SET. Instead of helping the respondent, it bakes her in the furnace. Remember the Dual Citizenship Law covers only former natural-born Filipinos who became foreign citizens after 2003. Mrs. Llamanzares was never a former natural-born citizen, and she became a US citizen, by Tan’s own admission in 2001, before the passage of the Dual Citizenship Law. So his statement has no merit. As to her alleged renunciation of US citizenship, this act had to be perfected under US law, with the US State Department, not with the BID. By Tan’s own admission, she was still a US citizen when she assume office as MTRCB chair, a job reserved for Filipinos. This was a further violation of law.
We have to end where we began—-with surveys. Surveys, even when done with great scientific care, could still be flawed. This happened in the 1948 US presidential election when, on the basis of nearly unanimous forecasts, the Chicago Tribune headlined, ”Dewey defeats Truman,” only to see Truman win. What is unforgivable though is when despite the shameful SWS exit survey fiasco in Metro Manila in 2004, we still find the same fraudsters in operation, and they have the temerity to boast a nearly 100 percent accuracy, just because their surveys are used no longer simply for mind-conditioning, but rather to guide the cheating syndicate that controls the hocus PCOS.