Miriam tops FB presidential survey

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago

MANILA – She may be trailing rivals in recent surveys for the 2016 race, but Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago emerged as the netizens’ top choice for president in a poll run by Facebook.

Santiago was elated upon learning the latest result of a survey on Facebook page Pinoy History showing that 48.36 percent of respondents want her as president in 2016.

She was followed by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte (42.35 percent), Liberal Party standard-bearer and former interior secretary Mar Roxas (3.86 percent), Sen. Grace Poe (2.15 percent) and Vice President Jejomar Binay (1.28 percent).

The group behind the survey said the results show “the real score of candidates in the upcoming presidential elections,” basing the numbers on 40 million social media users in the Phiippines.

In a recent survey on the official Facebook fan page of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Santiago also emerged as the winner. She was chosen by some 64 percent of 135,622 respondents.

Poe was a far second in the poll (14.35 percent) followed by Roxas (11.64 percent), and Binay (7.26 percent). The PUP survey was conducted from Oct. 16, the deadline for filing of certificates of candidacy, to Oct. 25.

Santiago, who has been sidelined by lung cancer, expressed belief that social media have led to an extraordinary change in voting attitude among Filipinos.

“Social media is the key to winning the 2016 elections. Traditional politicians can always pay for advertisements, or even pre-election surveys, but no amount of money can silence Filipinos on social media,” she said in a statement.

Since announcing her presidential bid in October, Santiago has not tapped traditional media – television, radio, and print – for political advertisements in deference to election laws that intended to limit the campaign period to the weeks spanning from Feb. 9 to May 7, 2016.

Santiago decried the “early campaigning” by other presidential contenders who have put up advertisements on prime time slots on television and radio broadcasts.

Santiago is the only presidential aspirant who has yet to release campaign ads.

Santiago also filed Senate Bill 2445 or the Anti-Premature Campaigning Bill, which seeks to prohibit candidates and even prospective candidates from campaigning a year before the elections.

“A protracted campaign period corrupts elected officials because it allows them to spend more and more money for ads. They are bound to steal that money back when they are in office,” Santiago said.

“In addition, poor candidates always lose their chance to serve the public to richer and more popular candidates. In the absence of a law that will break this cycle, social media is the equalizer,” she added.

In the 2009 case of Peñera v. Commission on Elections, the Supreme Court ruled that the offense of premature campaigning has been decriminalized by RA 8436 or the New Poll Automation Law, as amended.