Set aside the surveys, even Google Trends | Inquirer Business
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Set aside the surveys, even Google Trends

In choosing our next president, good voting criteria, instead of survey results, should determine our decision.

On May 2, I attended an online voter education forum that identified four excellent criteria: credibility, qualifications, platform, and past performance. Unfortunately, surveys sometimes influence a voter’s choice more than criteria.

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These days, the public relies on two platforms when comparing the ratings of front-runners Vice President Leni Robredo and former Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

For Pulse Asia, their April 16 to April 21 survey shows Marcos ahead with 56 percent of voters likely voting for him, compared to Robredo’s 23 percent. For Google Trends, which takes into account search queries online, Robredo appeared in 55 percent of searches as against Marcos’ 24 percent in the week before the elections.

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Which of the two is correct? We will know only on May 9.

In the meantime, we should not allow surveys, or even Google Trends, to be a determining factor. An example of how a survey wrongly predicted the election outcome was that of the Vico Sotto–Bobby Eusebio mayoralty contest for Pasig in 2019.

Of all the voter education forums I have attended, it was the May 2 meeting that identified the most useful and relevant voting criteria. Instead of dictating answers, the meeting facilitator provided questions that each voter should consider.

CREDIBILITY. Does the person have honesty and integrity? Has the candidate or his or her family shown signs of corruption? We must choose a candidate who uses government resources (that we mostly provide through our taxes) to benefit our people, instead of selfish interests.

QUALIFICATIONS. Does the candidate have the required work experience and education (know-how)? If the candidate has not done similar work before, the result will be incompetence. For education (know-how), does the person have the background to understand, analyze and execute the job that has to be done? Though experts can be harnessed, basic knowledge is necessary for effective implementation.

PLATFORM. Does the candidate have specific new policies and programs, rather than vague, motherhood statements? What are the solutions offered for today’s critical problems, such as health, education, livelihood and agriculture? Unless we hear concrete proposals, this candidate should not get our vote.

PAST PERFORMANCE. This may be the most important factor to consider in one’s choice. Has the candidate shown good, mediocre, or poor results? What evidence or independent objective evaluations can be shown to verify this? Did this performance happen consistently even before the elections, or was it done just to get votes? Past performance is a good predictor of the delivery of future promises.

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If one evaluates the presidential candidates based on the criteria above, a winner worthy of the voter’s choice will clearly emerge.

On agriculture

Both Marcos and Robredo strongly support agriculture. On May 13, Robredo identified agriculture in her list of sectors to focus on, followed by tourism, transportation, manufacturing and infrastructure.

In addition to having policy and extensive hands-on experience helping small farmers and fisherfolk, she chose as her vice president a senator who has learned from his own small farm experience and whose top priority has always been agriculture.

On the other hand, Marcos has experience in overseeing agriculture programs and knows the opportunities and pitfalls of major government initiatives. His choice for vice president is a popular leader and city mayor, who also advocates agriculture as a critical area that must be addressed.

But whether it’s Marcos or Robredo, we must choose our next president on the basis of good voting criteria, not surveys.

The author is Agriwatch chair, former secretary of presidential flagship programs and projects, and former undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry. Contact is [email protected]

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TAGS: Commentary, Elections, Google Trends, Surveys
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