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The final week of the campaign

We are in the final week of the election campaign and our many candidates will be making their final efforts to win the support of voters. The campaign officially ends this Saturday. Sunday is a day of rest. Then at 6 a.m. on Monday, May 9, the voting begins.

The six days of this final week are deemed crucial to many planners. In 2001, there was a move to ban the publication of survey results affecting national candidates 15 days before an election along with survey results affecting local candidates seven days before. The Supreme Court, however, rejected this move, already embodied in a law and in a Comelec resolution, as unconstitutional for it constituted prior restraint on the press in violation of press freedom.

Thus the constitutional ban stands, but it is indeed true that survey results tend to influence many people. In a forum two weeks ago, Rep. Lito Atienza of the party-list Buhay recalled how in the 2004 elections, one survey firm predicted a big win in Metro Manila for reelectionist President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, but when the votes were counted, it was Fernando Poe Jr. who had won in Metro Manila.

Last Thursday, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, in an interview with the Manila Bulletin, said that should she be elected president on May 9, she would immediately order an investigation of the conduct of what she called “commercial surveys.” By means of these surveys, she said, some groups “dictate to us and precondition our minds” as to which candidates are going to win.

In the next few days, we can expect many efforts to influence the opinions of voters. There already are charges about unreported bank accounts. There will be charges of foreign intervention in favor of one or another candidate. There will be reports of political blocs as well as moneyed business groups shifting their support. And there will be survey results, some of which will be in conflict with other survey results.

We will be bombarded from all sides with claims and counter-claims, charges and counter-charges of all kinds. It will be difficult but we are confident that Filipino voters, on the whole, will be able to see through the gimmickry, the ruses, and the fakery, and vote wisely on Monday.