Philippines protests media quick counts for trending

May. 16, 2007

MANILA — Malacaang is protesting the quick counts being conducted by media outfits, saying these lead to trending and mind conditioning.

Gabriel Claudio, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyos chief political adviser, said the quick counts have a “hypnotic effect” on the public and lead people to believe that “this is what will come out in the end, which [it] is not.”

“You know, there is something mesmerizing about figures and numbers being flashed on the screen. It has a hypnotic effect. No matter how you explain the process, no matter how much you qualify the limitations of the operations, mind-conditioning still happens,” Claudio said.

The ABS-CBN network has partnered with STI for its media quick count, while GMA Network has engaged AMA Computer University. Both networks also have tie-ups with other media.

In both media quick counts, candidates of the Genuine Opposition (GO) are dominating the senatorial race.

Claudio also said the Palace is “very disappointed” with what he described as the delayed start of the National Citizens Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) tally, claiming it started counting 24 hours after the polls closed.

Namfrel actually began its tally as soon as the polls closed 3 p.m. Monday and started giving updates on its quick count late Monday night.

“They are supposed to be the most reliable…so we were hoping Namfrel can speed up its quick count,” Claudio said in a phone patch interview Tuesday.

As the Commission on Elections accredited citizens arm, Claudio said Namfrel should be mindful not just of the need for accuracy, but speed as well in conducting its quick count.

Asked if Malacaang has asked the television networks to stop their quick counts, Claudio said they have yet to make a formal appeal but added that TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More) Unity spokesmen “have communicated” their “misgivings and apprehensions” about the effects of the media tallies.

TEAM Unity deputy spokesman Tonypet Albano said they have appealed to all networks “not to trend” by using votes only from Metro Manila and Luzon, known opposition strongholds.

“Why not count Visayas and Mindanao [votes] with [the] same percentage so as to allay fears of cheating when ourcandidates suddenly surge,” Albano said in a text message.

Albano said they are warning the public “not to be fooled by the unofficial and marginal results,” adding that administration candidates will start getting in the top 12 when the election returns from Visayas and Mindanao.

Claudio acknowledged that Metro Manila and Luzon are not the administration’s strong card, but said they hope the results in these areas would be countered by the votes from Visayas and Mindanao. (PIA Dispatch)

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