As polls draw near, some Hugpong bets dismiss poor survey numbers

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Hugpong ng Pagbabago candidates, led by the regional party's chairperson Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, hold their miting de avance in Davao City on May 9, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

DAVAO CITY (UPDATE) – Several candidates of administration-backed Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) on Thursday dismissed their poor showing in the latest pre-election surveys, as election day drew near.

Despite a well-oiled campaign machinery and the support of popular President Rodrigo Duterte and his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, some HNP candidates have failed to crack the winners’ circle in the surveys.

Maguindanao Rep. Zajid “Dong” Mangudadatu, a survey laggard, said he does not believe in results of surveys by major pollsters Social Weather Stations (SWS) and Pulse Asia, claiming they are “rigged.”

“Nasa taumbayan kung sino ang karapat-dapat mamuno sa ating bansa,” Mangudadatu told reporters on the sidelines of HNP’s miting de avance.

“May daya talaga, kino-confirm ko. Gusto ko sagutin ng SWS and Pulse Asia ang paratang ko.”

(The decision on who should lead the country rests on the people. It’s really rigged. I am confirming that. I want SWS and Pulse Asia to answer my allegations.)

Mangudadatu believes solid support from Mindanao, with its over 14 million registered voters, will catapult him to the Senate. He is also banking on the vast network he built as Maguindanao representative.

Meanwhile, journalist Jiggy Manicad, another survey laggard, said the real pulse of the nation is not reflected in the surveys.

“Hindi ako naniniwala dyan. I’m positive and hopeful of course sana mag-translate, mag-convert ang mga lugar na pinuntahan ko,” Manicad said.

(I don’t believe in the surveys. I’m positive and hopeful that my campaign on the ground will translate into votes.)

“On the ground, ‘yung ‘ground war,’ I guess tama ang nilatag kong campaign.”

(On the ground, the “ground war”, I guess I used the correct campaign strategy.)

Manicad also downplayed the reported non-endorsement of Christian sect Iglesia Ni Cristo of his candidacy. Poll candidates vie for INC’s support every election season as the sect is known to vote as a bloc and could deliver over 1 million votes to an aspiring politician.

“Iba kasi ang nilatag kong campaign. Hindi siya dumedepende sa pulitiko, sa groups. Dependent siya sa mismong voters,” he said.

(I employed a different campaign strategy. It’s not dependent on politicians, on groups. It’s dependent on the voters themselves.)

Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos also shrugged off her decline in the pre-election surveys, saying she does not believe in them.

"Mga survey lang yan, at saka 'di tayo masyadong naniniwala sa mga survey-survey, although kailangan aralin ng maigi," she said.

(Those are just surveys. I don't believe too much in surveys, although admittedly we have to study them.)

Reelectionist Sen. Joseph Victor "JV" Ejercito, who is also on the fringes of the so-called winners' circle of Pulse Asia's surveys, believes his numbers will still improve come election day.

"I'm confident. Our trajectory is good. I'm picking at the right time," he said.

Meanwhile, Ejercito's half-brother, former Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, attributed his decline in the surveys to what he described as "continued bashing" against him

"Maybe there are some unscrupulous elements who wanted me out," said Estrada, who placed 10th to 14th in the April Pulse Asia survey, down from the 6th to 10th spot he landed on during the Sept. 2018 survey.

Former special presidential assistant Bong Go, whose meteoric rise in the surveys has left observers at awe, said he respects his fellow HNP candidates' view of the surveys.

"Sa totoo lang, guide lang naman itong survey.. kung saan ka mahina, kailangan mong pasyalan," Go told reporters.

(Surveys are just guides… It shows you the areas which you need to visit because the support for you there is weak.)

Another survey frontrunner, Sen. Cynthia Villar, downplayed observation that ranking high in the surveys puts her in a good position to seek a higher post in 2022.

"It's something that's given by God. This is something that hard work can give," she said.

Among HNP bets, Villar leads the pack in Pulse Asia's April survey, followed by Taguig Rep. Pia Cayetano, former presidential assistant Christopher "Bong" Go, Sen. Sonny Angara, former police and corrections chief Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa, Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, Estrada and Ejercito emerged as likely winners in Monday’s polls.

Reelectionist Sen. Bam Aquino was the lone candidate from opposition slate Otso Diretso who made it to the winners’ circle.

Meanwhile, independent candidates, reelectionist Senators Grace Poe and Nancy Binay, and former senator Lito Lapid had a strong showing.


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