‘It preconditions people’: Ernie Abella wants ban on release of presidential survey results

MANILA — Independent presidential candidate Ernesto “Ernie” Abella wants the immediate banning of presidential survey results’ public release, on the position that it “preconditions” the mind of many voters.

Abella, who served as President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesperson, said Thursday that surveys should only serve as “guide” of candidates on their current standing, and not to condition minds of voters about a certain aspirant.

He cited a policy in some countries where survey results releases are supposedly prohibited weeks before the actual elections.

“It pre-conditions people na… ‘Baka sayang lang ang boto ko sa taong to.’ Eh, it’s about time… Dapat siguro there should be a ban on the surveys weeks before,” Abella told a media forum.

“So, para patas ang laban, dapat ihinto ‘yan. Kasi alam naman natin na commissioned ‘yan eh. Most of them are commissioned,” he added.

The latest presidential surveys of Pulse Asia and SWS, conducted last month, saw Abella getting the support of 0.05 percent and 0.04 percent of respondents, respectively. Both polls were topped by former Sen. Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., followed by Vice President Leni Robredo.

Analysts have said election surveys are mere “snapshots of the moment” and do not necessarily predict the outcome of the polls.

Abella said he and other independent presidential candidates in the May 9 elections would fare in the race better if more media organizations will invite them to various fora, just like what was done by SMNI on Tuesday.

While endorsements could help a candidate, an anointment by a certain group does not actually spell one’s sure victory and capability to govern the country, he also said.

PRESIDENTIAL AGENDA

Abella said he has a lot of programs in mind which he hopes to implement if he becomes president. Topping the list is his plan to infuse more funds to the agricultural sector and transform it as the country’s top industry.

“We need to address poverty by making agriculture a mega industry … make agriculture as a giant industry. We can’t always eat import substitution,” he stressed.

Abella said he will open it to everyone and allow the Filipino people to apply for 15,000 appointive positions in the government.

Civil society groups will also take an active role in his administration, said Abella, who is a pastor.

RIVALS

When asked for his assessment of the other presidential contenders, Abella said Marcos is faithful to the legacy of the latter’s father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

“Actually, dun siya nakasalalay sa basically, the merits of the father,” he said.

Abella called Robredo “very pleasant”, and Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, a “persistent senator”.

He praised Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso’s projects, and Sen. Manny Pacquiao’s “sense of calling and destiny.”

He characterized labor leader Leody de Guzman as a “very good articulator of socialist agenda.” 

 DUTERTE TIES

Even after he was replaced by Duterte as Palace spokesman more than five years ago, Abella said he continues to highly regard the President who, he said, rescued him from a kidnap-for-ransom group in 1996.

Abella was replaced by then Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque, who is now looking for a Senate seat.

For Abella, Duterte’s high popularity rating even until close to the end of his term is due to his connection with ordinary people.

Duterte has so far not endorsed any presidential candidate.

Meantime, Abella said the next administration, whoever takes the helm, must look at the pandemic accordingly.

“Pandemic has a cycle… We need to live, we can begin to live with the pandemic. We need to boost the health of lower sector of society… Reporting should be based on adverse reaction, based on deaths,” he said.

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