Church, celebrity endorsements help, hurt bets

Manila, Philippines - The endorsements of religious groups and celebrities such as TV hosts Kris Aquino and Willie Revillame and boxing champ Manny Pacquiao in the coming 2010 elections could have both a positive and negative impact for candidates, results of the latest Pulse Asia survey revealed Thursday.

The nationwide survey conducted October 22 to 30 showed that up to 52 percent of voters could vote for a candidate endorsed by the leaders of their church. However, 43 percent of voters also said they would probably or surely not vote for the candidate endorsed by their church.

Local politicians have long acknowledged the influence of religious groups over their congregations during election season, with the powerful Iglesia ni Cristo sect commanding up to 3 percent of voters since they practice bloc voting.

The survey said up to 45 percent of Filipino adults could vote for a candidate endorsed by Kris Aquino. However, 49 percent also said they will probably/surely not vote for the candidate Aquino endorsed.

Aquino, one of the most powerful entertainers in local showbiz, is the sister of Liberal Party standard bearer Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.

The survey said Wowowee host Willie Revillame's endorsement could get up to 37 percent of voters. On the other hand, 58 percent of voters said they would reject Revillame's candidate. Revillame is currently endorsing the candidacy of Nacionalista Party bet Sen. Manny Villar.

Another Villar endorser, Manny Pacquiao, could also become a factor in next year's polls.

The survey said Pacquiao's endorsement could persuade 21 percent of voters to vote for his candidate of choice while 71 percent of voters said they will probably/surely reject the boxing champ's anointed.

The survey, which interviewed 1,800 adults, was conducted before Pacquiao's win over Puerto Rican boxer Miguel Cotto last November 14.

The survey also showed that 15 percent of voters would vote for a candidate endorsed by President Arroyo. On the other hand, 79 percent of people interviewed for the survey said they would probably/surely not vote for Arroyo's candidate who is Lakas-Kampi-Christian Muslim Democrats standard-bearer Gilbert Teodoro.

Thirty-six percent of voters said they could vote for a candidate endorsed by former President Joseph Estrada while 59 percent of voters said they would probably/surely not vote for Estrada's choice. Estrada is currently running for re-election in the 2010 polls.

Pulse Asia said a presidential bet endorsed by any of these personalities or groups "would certainly get the support of at most 11 percent of Filipinos only."

On the other hand, it said 2 percent to 5 percent of Filipinos said the endorsements would have no effect on their choice for president while three percent were unable to say what impact such endorsements would have on their choice for president in the May 2010 elections.

Estrada doubts survey results

Former President Estrada, meanwhile, cast doubt on the survey results, which showed that more voters would reject rather than vote for a candidate that he endorses.

He said the Pulse Asia survey results ran counter to the warm reception he receives everytime he campaigns in Metro Manila and in the provinces. He said the survey could be part of propaganda to downplay his popularity among the masses.

Estrada, along with his vice-presidential candidate Jejomar Binay and four other senatorial candidates, visited Barangay Maricaban in Pasay City to campaign for the 2010 elections.

Former Undersecretary Connie Dy of the National Anti-Poverty Commission said Estrada's popularity convinced her to leave the administration Lakas-Kampi Christian Muslim Democrats and join Estrada's Pwersa ng Masa party.