Ro-Ro and that funny survey


“Takot sila sa akin,” Mar Roxas, Liberal Party standard-bearer said in March after the second debate among #Halalan2016 presidential bets. He also said surveys didn’t matter and that rivals were ganging up on him because of fear.

But a certain survey does matter a lot to the Liberal Party and its followers.

A minor Twitter stir occurred on April 20. Accounts linked to Roxas loyalists erupted in jubilation, sharing  headlines on a miraculous survey surge that had President Benigno Aquino III’s candidate tied with Sen. Grace Poe at first place.

daang matuwid

 

The day before, Pulse Asia released the results of the ABS-CBN commissioned survey, showing Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte extending his new front-runner position, from 30% to 32%.

Pulse Asia said Duterte managed to capture “a sizeable plurality of Filipino registered voters.”

 

READ: Duterte extends lead in latest ABS-CBN survey

Had one of the two other big survey firms like the Social Weather Stations (SWS) or Laylo released the April 20 report, it would have been major news.

Both firms have displayed similar rankings, though with different percentages and margins of error.

The catcalls that followed were louder than the hosannas. Many Roxas supporters were too embarrassed to join the chorus, for good reason.

Only a few tabloids carried the momentous announcement. One report, credited to the Philippine Star, actually comes from its Filipino-language tabloid, and has since been taken down.

published Curious website

A simple Google search brings you to the website of  D’ Strafford Research & Strategies, Inc.

The firm claims it uses the language of the business elite.

Its site looks sleek but turns out to be a skeleton – no profile, projects, no clients. Not even an address.

When I visited mid-afternoon of April 20, it didn’t even have anything about an election survey. 

D’ Strafford’s first appearance on email accounts of newsdesks was after it got a deluge of phone calls from curious Netizens.

I called up two numbers. Several tries on the first only got a recorded voice saying Extension 6138 was not available.

A man named Mark Lim answered the other number. He gave their office address as Unit 1, Penthouse, on the 35th floor of EcoTowers on 32nd St., BGC. He said a JM Balancar presented the survey results during “a press conference for tri-media at the Shangri-la Fort.”

Who is Mr. Balancar? What are his credentials?

Lim described Balancar first as “project manager” then as “project director”.

When asked for the name of the CEO – the website does not list company officials –Lim pointed to Balancar. Prompted for the names of other company officials, he mentioned a Mark Tan and Anthony Seno.

I asked if any of them were statisticians. No.

He also said the survey was done in-house and not commissioned.They interviewed 2,800 respondents face to face from April 13-18, he added. The outcome has a +/-1.9% national margin of error.

Then, unprompted, Lim attributed the lead to Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial joke about the rape-slay of an Australian missionary in 1989.

Professional style

I asked for the education and professional credentials of Balancar and their survey leader.  Lim said their in-house, corporate survey lead was a Jeffrey Concio, but he was mum on credentials.

Mum on clients. Mum on most everything, except that the firm’s owners were businessmen with ages ranging from the 30s to the 40s. Lim said he’s 38 years old. He would not give me his education background.

D’ Strafford incorporators don’t come up on Facebook or even Google. They must be very, very private men.

Balancar’s email to news desks was a gem . Will share it as is:

balancar email

 

Nothing in their press release backs up the claim that Roxas surged because Duterte scared off some fans. Analysts say he may have lost some number of “soft voters;” but we’ll have to wait for the next surveys.

But Pulse Asia places Roxas fourth among voters’ second choice, with 14%, compared to Sen. Grace Poe’s 29%, Vice President Jejomar Binay’s 17% and Duterte’s 16% — though that category is premised on the condition of a favored bet not able to continue contesting the presidency.

pulse 2nd choice better

D’ Strafford’s press release shares the press release’s quirky writing style, especially the unique use of punctuation.

Even more curious was the passage on the undecided:

“Of the 4.2% undecided, 1.5% goes to Poe, 1.3% for Roxas, 1% to Duterte and .4% for Binay.” 

You make try to decipher that.

Discoveries

Roxas’ official Facebook account did not share the story. His vice presidential bet, Leni Robredo – D’ Stafford claimed she had a rating 32%, leading r Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. (25%) and Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero (23%).

leni on d'strafford

After chatting with Lim, I called up Balancar. He was busy and just asked for a text query. I asked about the firm’s SEC registration.

He replied: “We will have another round of press conference this coming Friday. We will be sending invites. Thank you.”

A follow up text from him said: “All are invited even Duterte supporters, of GP and ke Binay. Thank you.”

Netizens Mariah Sanchez and Jae Manuel Sta Romana did separate searches and discovered that D’ Strafford’s website was registered only on April 14, a day after the claimed start of their survey.

website
Screengrab photo posted by Mariah Sanchez

It only registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission on April 11.

Sta Romana also found out that the firm borrowed i’s entire website template from a Chicago-based company. Unlike D’ Stafford, Omotosho and Associates details a range of services.

borrowed

So a very young firm of mysterious men decided to spend a caboodle of money for a nationwide survey because of the goodness of their hearts.

Don’t let those inconvenient truths divert us from this sure-fire reality, says an undersecretary.

Roxas will win, according to Malacanang, because the government has the most organized force.

This administration has a genius for twisting the meaning of words. Let’s parse out organized in the next installment, starting with the Palace downloading voters’ personal data stolen from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) website.

Why Brian Poe Llamanzares’ shoes matter


brian
Photo from zeibiz.com of a Sen. Grace Poe-Brian Llamanzares meme doing the rounds.

Aside from the fact that trolls abound during elections and candidates pay people big sums to attack on rivals, here’s why Brian Poe Llamanzares’ choice of sneakers matters.

Here’s also why, contrary to some friends, it IS also important to distinguish whether the “special edition” Nike sneakers were genuine or fake. Someone on Twitter, who says he knows shoes, insists the pair shown on Brian’s pix (since taken down) are fake.

Context makes a great difference. There are different kinds of wrongs.

If those shoes were genuine, the price would be in the vicinity of P90,000 to P100,000.

We then ask:

a) Does Brian have a trust fund? b) Do his parents (or Lola) give him that kind of allowance?

If the answer is yes, I might start thinking,  “oops, entitlement” — and be concerned about insensitivity.

If the answer to a and b is NO, then we ask:

c)  Does a fledgling reporter, even for CNN Philippines, earn enough to afford such expensive shoes?

Journalists, unlike government officials, do not have to submit SALNs. But there are written or unspoken rules of ethics that caution against ostentatious displays of material wealth.

Mainly because, aside from a few gods in the media, many of us are right smack in the middle-lower or middle-middle classes — most, actually, in the D class. And because our profession, which is in the business of trust, is also burdened by public perception of corruption.

I don’t think Brian is corrupt. Word easily gets around about that. (Neither is he distinguished for brilliance or exemplary diligence.)

Sen. Grace Poe doesn’t come across as a materially promiscuous mom. I don’t doubt her surprise over her son’s purchase. (To many of us, sneakers are sneakers. She’s probably just as clueless.)

The senator has had many, many opportunities from childhood to young adulthood to strut around like, say, Janet Napoles’ girl — nobody has yet accused her of extravagant displays.

And so we come to the second possibility: That the shoes were fake.

That is not an impossibility. Even the rich look for the best fakes — for them, it’s about bragging rights: “Look! It looks exactly the same as my Rolex!”

For most people, it’s an accommodation between aspirational tendencies and life’s realities.

It’s not a high crime, but if true, then Brian should come out with a quick, clean apology and promise never to do it again. Hey, Ronald Llamas did it, too.

Here’s what mom needs to recognise: What Brian does matters.

Brian isn’t a child of minor age. He’s an adult, a former reporter. And he has some role or another in your campaign.

Whether you like it or not, his public standing and behaviour will affect you. You either sit him down and drum the fear of god into him — or ship him off to where he can do no harm.

If there’s good reason for him to afford the shoes, say so, acknowledge that it may have been a bit insensitive to show these off — considering his mom campaigns for hungry, malnourished children. Then move on.

If the shoes are fake, acknowledge and apologise. Do not justify breaking the law because millions of other Filipinos are, too.  Just apologise and move on.

It’s actually an opportunity for the candidate to explain some economics — without condoning piracy and theft of copyright; instead, urge people to patronise our own, affordable goods.

What you do not need, Madame Senator, are more verbal and mental acrobatics that will just twist you again in knots.