Press Release
March 23, 2010


Liberal Party vice presidential candidate Senator Mar Roxas emerged as the most 'believable' senator in ABS-CBN's Harapan: The Vice Presidential Debate, based on feedback from the public and a select audience who participated in the debate.

The debate, which was held Sunday night at the La Consolacion College in Manila, used a new way of getting feedback from the audience through the Wireless Audience Response System (WARS), a versatile efficient and reliable information gathering and dissemination tool designed to encourage audience participation, improve comprehension and increase retention.

In the debate, randomly selected audiences from Metro Manila, Naga, Cebu, Davao were given a gadget. After a candidate answered questions from each round, the participating audience had to press a button to say whether they felt the candidate gave a truthful answer. Another button meant he or she felt the candidate was not telling the truth.

Roxas passed all rounds of the debate with flying colors. Questions raised to him included his experience in governance, his plans on improving the state of education and the agriculture sector, his political alliance and his advocacies.

Eighty-six (86) percent of the of the audience believed Roxas' explanations on why he voted for the approval of the expanded Value Added Tax (e-VAT), why he insisted on giving the president the sole responsibility to imposed Maximum Retail Prices (MRP) on essential medicines under the Cheaper Medicines law, and on a land case involving the Araneta family still pending at the Supreme Court. Only 14% doubted his reply.

Senator Loren Legarda, the closest rival of Roxas, posed the questions. She had been raising the same issues against Roxas in her provincial campaign sorties and during media interviews.

In the second round where Legarda grilled him on his alleged shifting alliances, an overwhelming 91.80% of the audience said they believed Roxas' statement that he had been with the Liberal Party since he entered politics and that he abandoned the Estrada and Arroyo administrations only because he did not want to be part of a corrupt government. Only 8.20% did not believe him.

In the third round where 'character' questions were asked, 82.60% of the audience concurred with the Visayan senator when he said that the deaths of his father, the late Sen. Gerry Roxas, and his brother Dinggoy were the lowest points of his life. Some 17.4% of the audience was not happy with his reply.

In the last round where the vice presidential candidates were asked questions by a farmer from Nueva Ecija, Roxas scored 85.4% when he promised to improve irrigation facilities in the country, stop rice importation and open more credit facilities for farmers nationwide.

He likewise scored a high 91.8% when he told a teacher from Zambales that reforms in the education sector, including higher salaries for public school teachers, could only be implemented if the government is not corrupt.

In the online polls, Roxas lorded it over his fellow vice presidential candidates, with 55% of Internet voters saying he was 'truthful.' The same was reflected in the text voting, where 57% said Roxas was the 'most believable' candidates among the six who participated in the debate.

While Roxas passed the debate with flying colors, Legarda failed dismally, failing repeatedly to get 50% or more in the audience feedback.

In the first round where she was grilled by former MMDA chief Bayani Fernando, Legarda's 'believable' rating was a low 39.5%. The number of those who did not believe her answer was a high 60.5%. Fernando asked Legarda about what she has done in her political career that would qualify her to be an executive official.

In the second round where she was pitted against VP race frontrunner Roxas, Legarda's 'truthfulness' was also a low 41%. Roxas asked Legarda why she was focusing her campaign on climate change when the country faces more serious problems, like poverty and corruption.

Her gibberish response to who was the most influential public servant in her life during the third round did not impress the audience as well, with only 36% believing her and the remaining 64% disliking her reply.

Legarda fared slightly better on her agriculture stance (53.8% 'Naniniwala' and 46.2% 'Hindi naniniwala') but dropped again when she talked about raising the salaries of public school teachers from salary grade 10 to 19 (38.2% 'Naniniwala' and 61.80% 'Hindi Naniniwala').

Aside from doing poorly in the WARS survey, Legarda also did badly in the online and text polls, getting a low 5% and 6%, respectively, of the total votes. The polls asked the question: 'Who is the most believable among the candidates in the Harapan debate?'

Aside from Legarda, 5 other vice-presidential candidates joined the debate: Bayani Fernando, Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay, broadcaster Jay Sonza and Perfecto Yasay.

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