Sta. Ana coordinates Action for Economic Reforms.  This article was published in the Opinion Section, Yellow Pad Column of BusinessWorld, April 30, 2007  edition, page S1/4.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer’s banner headline on 25 April 2007 was: “Bayan Muna rating falls.”

And the lead was:  “The militant group Bayan Muna is still poised to retain its three seats in the House of Representatives, but it has lost a whopping 17 percentage points over the past month, according to results of a nationwide survey that Social Weather Stations conducted from April 14 to April 17.”

The story said that Bayan Muna’s allies—Anakpawis and Gabriela—likewise lost ground.

Asked to explain the plunge, Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casiño said: “We’re still trying to account [for it] and look at the reason behind the phenomenal drop. Maybe because after Satur was freed, media coverage dipped. That’s probably one of the reasons.”

Gloria Arroyo’s military put a bizarre spin.  Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro, the military information chief, said: “The alleged involvement of Congressman Ocampo in the brutal slaying of 67 persons found in a mass grave in Inopacan, Leyte could have swayed people.”

I am willing to bet my one week allowance that  Mssrs. Casiño and Bacarro are mistaken. The first thing they should have done before giving conjectures to the media was to ask Social Weather Stations, or SWS, about its methodology for the latest and previous surveys.  But to the credit of Bayan Muna’s Casiño and Ocampo, they “would seek a clarification from the SWS.”

Unfortunately, the SWS media release does not spell out the survey’s technical details. It merely states that the survey used “face-to-face interviews of 1,200 registered voters divided into random samples of 300 each in the four areas of Metro Manila, the Balance of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. By design, the sample included every city/municipality in Metro Manila, and at least one province in every region in the other three areas. The Balance of Luzon has 6 regions, while Visayas has 3, and Mindanao has 6.”

There is reason to believe that the SWS pre-election surveys conducted before April 2007 used a methodology that was different from its latest survey.  Similarly, the methodology of its surveys before April 2007 was different from that of its competitor, Pulse Asia. The SWS surveys prior to April 2007 revealed a significantly higher percentage of votes for candidates, compared to what Pulse Asia tallied.

The results of the most recent SWS survey (April 14 to 17) are aligned with the results of the Pulse Asia survey (April 3 to 5). For example, Bayan Muna had a voter preference of 13.7 percent in the Pulse Asia survey, while it received 10.4 percent of the votes in the SWS survey.  This may suggest that SWS and Pulse Asia used the same methodology for their most recent surveys. If my own conjecture—that it was the change in SWS’s methodology that mattered—is correct, then Bayan Muna shouldn’t lose heart.

But there is more bothersome news for voters who might vote Bayan Muna for its being anti-administration.  And this is a far more serious concern for Bayan Muna than the supposed decline in its pre-election survey voter preference.  The day after the Inquirer bannered the story about the fall in Bayan Muna’s rating, a news item on its inside page reported that Bayan Muna and allied party-list groups had endorsed eight senatorial candidates.  Among those endorsed are Gloria’s Arroyo’s candidates, namely Joker Arroyo and Ralph Recto.

Through an e-group, I received the joint statement of Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela, Kabataan and Suara Bangsamoro.?It’s amusing to compare the joint statement of Bayan Muna and company (25 April 2007) with the joint statement of Joker Arroyo and Ralph Recto (10 February 2007).

What Bayan Muna and company said:

“Of course, our chosen senatorial candidates are not perfect. There are and will be many issues raised against them, whether legitimate and not. What is important, though, is that their good points overshadow their bad points and that whatever bad points they have are not a hindrance to their becoming good senators.”

What Joker and Recto said:

“Yes, the administration has committed grave blunders. But through all these, the President never tried to dissuade us from opposing her.”

My annotation: Bayan and company treat Joker and Recto the same way Joker and Recto treat GMA.

What Bayan Muna and company said regarding their criteria for endorsing candidates:

“Their capability to take an independent stance vis-à-vis the Executive.”


What Joker and Recto said:

“Why then should we not run again in the administration Senate slate? It has never tried to undermine our independence or bind our conscience or stand in the way of what we believed had to be said and done. It has respected if it did not always enjoy our roles as senator.”

My annotation: So I hope Joker and Recto will tell Bayan Muna to thank Mrs. Gloria Arroyo for not undermining their independence.

What Bayan Muna and company said regarding their criteria for endorsing candidates:

“Their consistent commitment in upholding human rights, especially their consistent denunciation of the extrajudicial killings and massive human rights violations under the Arroyo administration.”

My annotation: No need to quote Joker and Recto, but it is on record that they voted in favor of the anti-terrorism bill.
I also recall Patricia Evangelista’s  interview with Joker.  I quote Evangelista (25 March 2007):

“I interviewed Sen. Joker Arroyo, whose defense of human rights is his platform for reelection. I ask why he has been silent, and why he chooses to still run with Team Unity whose figurehead is GMA. He is offended. He was the first to speak against Palparan, he says, and the one who continually rails against human rights violations.

“There are other issues, there are other issues, he repeats, labor and finance and education, and a whole host of other matters. Why must his performance on the political killings be a standard by which I should judge him? He tells me, at the end of his rant, that he expects me to be objective. I tell him I cannot be, as I am not a reporter, I’m a columnist with my own biases. And he is angry, and he walks out and tells me to do what I want.”

Well, Joker won’t walk out on Bayan Muna and vice versa. Iba na ang may pinagsamahan.

According to Ocampo’s chief of staff, the “primary or key criterion” of Bayan Muna and company in endorsing Joker and Recto is “their consistent commitment in upholding human rights….”

Joker, no doubt, “continually rails against human rights violations.”  But he shields Mrs. Arroyo and even the military institution from the Bayan Muna charge that they are chiefly responsible for these killings and violations.

The Inquirer reported that “Joker Arroyo is urging the public to go slow in condemning the entire military” for the extra-judicial killings.

Joker’s line actually favors the administration:  Concede that a few bad elements in the military perpetrated the killings, but just don’t say that Mrs. Arroyo and the military institution are responsible and accountable for such killings.
One last point about what Joker and Recto said:

“On balance, until the opposition can offer something more than the impeachment of the President, the country is better off letting this administration complete the work it is doing while keeping a close watch on anything else it may attempt.”

My annotation: So Bayan Muna and company are endorsing Joker and Recto who mock the opposition (of course, including Bayan Muna) for having nothing to offer but impeachment. Bayan Muna and company want us to vote for Joker and Recto who want to “complete the work (GMA) is doing.”

We now offer Bayan Muna a new slogan:  Joker muna, bago bayan.