MANILA, Philippines–“Sustained bad news” may have been the reason for the continued decline in the survey ratings of Nacionalista Party (NP) standard bearer Manuel Villar Jr.

Since January 2010, Villar’s ratings in surveys by different polling firms gradually slipped to the 20’s range from comfortably staying in the mid-30 range.

Villar’s rating, so far, has not increased since the start of the campaign period. His latest ratings show his lowest performance.

Pedro Laylo Jr., resident pollster of Manila Standard Today (MST), told abs-cbnNews.com/Newsbreak that sustained negative news coverage, especially by television networks, caused Villar’s trust ratings to dwindle. This impacted heavily on his vote share. (Read more on the Laylo Reports.)

The latest MST survey showed that more than half (56%) of the 2,500 respondents said that they have received mostly negative news about Villar, compared to 3 other presidential aspirants, Benigno Aquino III, Joseph Estrada, and Gilberto Teodoro Jr.

He is followed by Aquino (48%), Estrada (46%), and Teodoro (44%).

According to communication strategist Malou Tiquia, the defections to the NP camp by Lakas-Kampi members could have been handled better by Villar’s camp. She said that Villar was “unfortunately” tagged “Villaroyo.”

Her analysis is that members were simply defecting, and it wasn’t because of Arroyo’s orders. “Defections in politics is all about who is the perceived winner,” she said.


Villar has placed considerable volume of advertisements in broadcast stations, as well as flooded streets with his campaign paraphernalia. He has said that it’s his way of leveling the playing field, given the free exposure that most media outlets are giving his closest rival, Aquino.

Laylo said that advertisements no longer worked since voters began to rely heavily on earned media, more popularly known as television news, for information.

Aquino, starting in late February until the present, benefits the most because most voters say they are getting more positive news about him, Laylo said.

The MST survey conducted last March 21-23 showed that among those who would vote for Villar (26%) were exposed in the past week to news about him (68%), his television ads (82%), radio ads (30%), and print ads (15%).

In an earlier survey conducted by MST (February 20-26), news about the candidate (46%) is one of the helpful means in deciding to vote for him. This is only second to television commercials or ads, which was cited by 52% of the respondents.

Layo said in his report that “the candidates’ exposure and image” could explain why their ratings in the February survey were “almost unchanged” from the January survey. (Read his report titled Voters swayed by paid advertisements)


NP spokesman Adel Tamano told abs-cbnNews.com/Newsbreak in a phone interview that although Villar has dominated the airwaves with political ads, the presidential candidate is powerless against all the attacks.

“It’s very difficult to answer all allegations. It’s not one-on-one. It’s one versus four,” Tamano said, referring to Villar’s rivals, Maria Ana Consuelo “Jamby” Madrigal, Estrada, Richard Gordon, and the LP.

In November 2008, Madrigal alleged that Villar caused the double allocation in the budget for the same stretch of road that traversed the properties of his company. The issue was revived in the Senate in January 2010. She also alleged that Villar landgrabbed various agricultural lands for his real estate business.

This month, Estrada and Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino partymate Juan Ponce Enrile alleged that Villar influenced the stock exchange to favor the public listing of his company. Gordon claimed that Villar bribed him to not push through with the presidential race.

The NP claims that it was the LP that coined the term “Villaroyo,” saying that Villar is not a real oppositionist because he is the “secret candidate” of President Arroyo.

“They’re all hitting Manny [Villar] at the same time. There has been a flurry of negative campaigning. It’s below the belt,” Tamano said. (Read: Villar, Erap tie for 2nd place)

Although Villar’s ratings are declining, Tamano said that they are confident they will catch up.


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