Time to do a survey: Should Aquino run again?


There are also those [texting me]saying that the best way for us to continue on the straight path, is for me to continue leading. I cannot dismiss these suggestions from people with open minds and sincerely wishing to do good for others.    
— President Benigno Aquino 3rd, September 12, 2014

In the past administration, Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations were quick to poll the public on controversies, including those negative toward the government. During the ZTE scandal, in which then-President Gloria Arroyo was accused, Pulse Asia asked respondents who they thought was the most corrupt president. And when the adminstration pushed for charter change in 2005, both pollsters conducted repeated surveys on Cha-cha.

By contrast, the two outfits have avoided controversies in which President Benigno Aquino 3rd may look bad, although they continued their quarterly polls on poverty, hunger, jobs, and government performance.

When there was discussion about Aquino’s work habits, there was no survey asking who was the most hard-working president. During his widely debated push to postpone the 2011 elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Pulse Asia and SWS did not even bother asking ARMM voters what they thought.

Nor did they survey such issues as the distribution of the Cojuangco family’s Hacienda Luisita, allegations of pork barrel bribery during the Corona impeachment, the adequacy and speed of disaster relief during Yolanda, or, after Aquino publicly disputed the unanimous Supreme Court ruling against his Disbursement Acceleration Program, which of the two was right on DAP.

But before we write off Pulse Asia and SWS as totally scared of controversies sensitive for Aquino, let’s give them one more chance. How about an honest-to-goodness survey on whether the President should, as he keeps intimating, run for re-election in 2016. Then it may help him decide once and for all whether his avowed “bosses” really want the Constitution amended to remove his single-term limit or extend his rule.

The question’s the thing
As any survey expert and aficionado knows, how the question is framed makes all the difference, as a review of Cha-cha surveys done shortly before and in the years after Arroyo called for constitutional amendments in her State of the Nation Address in 2005.

That year and in 2006, Pulse Asia asked respondents whether it was right to amend the Constitution “now.” Those answering yes rose from 29 percent in March 2005, to 36 percent in the following October, and 43 percent in March 2006.

The yes ratio dipped to 40 percent in July 2006 and 39 percent in November of that year. Another 20 percent, more or less, also favored Cha-cha, though not right then. Thus, three out of every five Filipinos supported amendment either now or later.

There were very different questions and results in the SWS surveys. In December 2005, the pollster asked whether respondents would support an amendment that would end Arroyo’s term before 2010. Result: 54 percent answered yes. Some wondered, however, whether that was a survey of presidential popularity, not constitutional change.

In its March 2006 poll, SWS asked whether respondents would vote for “a proposed new constitution if a plebiscite were held now.” Not whether it was time to amend the charter, but whether one would vote for a constitution whose provisions were unknown to the respondent, since there was no such charter drafted, although possible amendments had been debated for years.

Fully 56 percent of SWS respondents said no. Zero surprises there. How many would vote for a new charter yet to be defined? Actually, that’s the surprise: 42 percent said they would, probably assuming that the “new constitution” in the question would contain certain well-publicized provisions they favored.

Three months later in June 2006, SWS repeated its poll with a crucial change in the survey question: “If a plebiscite were held today, would you vote Yes or No to a new Constitution that PGMA [Arroyo] wants?” Given her unpopularity, the No responses leapt to 67 percent. And SWS compared the March and July 2006 results, even though their questions were substantially different.

Survey experts and Cha-cha advocates questioned the validity of mixing the issues of constitutional change and presidential popularity in one question. But SWS head Mahar Mangahas defended the wording and kept using it in future surveys. Media and amendment opponents cited SWS results almost exclusively, ignoring Pulse Asia polls.

If pollsters won’t, prelates should
SWS and Pulse Asia may again skirt the burning issue of Aquino re-election for fear of offending him. Hence, those keen to get a straight answer from the President about 2016 should commission a survey on his remarks that the people want him to run again. These groups may include the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines and independent, impartial media, but not political groups, to avoid tainting the poll.

Any survey on presidential re-election could consider several questions: Should Aquino continue as president after June 2016? Should the Constitution be amended to allow him to run again? Should we have Cha-cha to extend his current term? And others.

The introduction preceding the question when it is read to respondents is also crucial. Assuming they are asked about Cha-cha to allow re-election, the following possible prefaces would likely produce different results:

Preface A: President Aquino is considering re-election in 2016 to preserve his reforms.

Preface B: The Constitution bars a second term for the President, to prevent the rise of another dictator.

Preface C: After the Supreme Court ruled against DAP, President Aquino spoke about Cha-cha to let him run again and curb judicial powers.

All three introductions are factually correct (though Aquino critics may argue that he has instituted no significant reforms). But they would tend to skew answers in different ways. Hence, both questions and introductions are crucial to making the poll fair and focused.

The next round of quarterly SWS and Pulse Asia surveys will be in two weeks, toward the end of September. There is still time to draft and include questions on Aquino re-election or term extension in those polls.

Let’s do it, and show the President what his “bosses” really want.


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  1. Dear ALL: NO NEED FOR SURVEY OF ANY SUBJECT. The Constitution is very clear NO SECOND TERM NOR REELECTION FOR A SITTING PRESIDENT. klaro hindi ba? Let us not dignify Boy Tiwala cum Kumpiyansa’s dream of continuing his matuwid na daan through a second term. Its a DEAD END for him.

  2. Does BS Aquino deserve a second term? Are you kidding? This guy is super incompetent and corrupt! His overused “straight path” is a big joke by doling out billions of pesos in PDAF and DAP to bribe members of Congress to oust Corona and win their loyalty. His inner circle of KKK cronies who hold key government offices are either incompetent, corrupt or both and Abnoy doesn’t fire them! I say NO to giving him another term!

  3. Enough is Enough. Just a BIG NO. No spin. I have been waiting on Pulse Asia or SWS to come forward and shoot the survey questions straight to me – – to no avail.
    They can rig and tweak all their stats – to favor and condition a desired outcome, who cares?

  4. aresyo goodfriend on

    No cha-cha…there was a very good reason why there will only be one term for all presidents. We do not want to make the same mistakes from the past. Six years is plenty of time for presidents to make do with his campaign promises. If he can’t then he/she is no good & should have not made those promises- and must move on to give room for a better & promising hopeful presidents.

  5. In the first place, there is no need for a survey because Señor Simyon is never allowed a second term under the present constitution. Should they rush to subvert the people’s will, I am sure that the Military will come forward to protect the people – as mandated by the Constitution. By the way, the Military can always subcontract the work of protecting the people. US jurisprudence has shown the way. The Dept of Labor allows subcontracting anyway. Surely, a lot of donations can come if the Military says there are no funds for subcontracting work.

  6. I am expecting takers of your challenges…1st is the debate and this survey about re-election and charter change! And hope it is not biased!


  8. This is my response to the survey:
    Preface A – There have been no reforms, except to turn almost all of the government into accepting the increasing bribes. No cha-cha.
    Preface B – I think the Constituion should be changed to a 4 year term for the President and can be re-elected once. Congressmen should have a 3 year term and can be re-elected three times. Senators should have a 6 year term and can be re-elected once. Yes to cha-cha with amendments taking effect with the 2016 election.
    Preface C – The power of the SC should not be diminished. No cha-cha.

  9. Leodegardo Pruna on

    P-Noy should and just wait for his term to end. It was a disaster in the making when he was elected president via the Hocus PCOS machine. The people either simply relied on their emotions, P-Noy being son of the then Pres. Cory who passed away close to election time or were carried away because of GMA’s mishandling of her administration. P-Noy should just stay home and play with his nephew and enjoy the games and be spared of the KKKs , led by A BAD man, who are simply toying around with him . The only way I see for our country to recover from where it is now is for men of CHARACTER and GOOD WILL to run our country God bless the Philippines.

  10. Bonifacio Claudio on

    Random samplings of plants would give far greater statistical reliability than those of human beings. The complexity of human nature plays an important factor on the validity of statistical interpretation, compounded by the bias of the statisticians conducting such survey. One question could solicit so many ideas associated with it in the respondents mind, & bring about the play of emotions & sentiments emanating from such exercise. Indeed there is a need to scrutinize the preciseness of wordings presented to the respondents that such questions could only solicit one interpretation on the intent of the survey. It could be said then that the results are objective & unadulterated in all honesty. But then, oft & on, the statistical prognostics based on random samplings have, in many instances, been proven wrong & delusional.