MANILA, Philippines - Independent pollster Pulse Asia on Tuesday denied that it was commissioned to conduct a survey on the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Pulse Asia president Ronald Holmes said the recent survey, which showed 47% of Pinoys believing Corona guilty of the impeachment charges, is part of their normal quarterly research on top government officials and institutions.
“No one commissioned the survey. When we ask questions, we just show all the results. We crafted the questions and decided on the survey,” he told radio dzMM.
Asked about the possibility of being cited in contempt by the Senate, Holmes said he does not know of any order from the impeachment court to stop conducting surveys.
“You can only be cited for contempt if you are violating an order of the court. This is an issue for the Senate. We know of no order that we have violated when we conducted the survey and released its results,” he said.
Holmes said the survey was conducted before the defense team could present evidence and witnesses in the trial.
He said opinions of respondents could change as the trial progresses.
The March 2012 Ulat ng Bayan national survey earlier showed 47% of Filipinos saying Corona is guilty of the impeachment charges, with 33% saying he is probably guilty and 15% being certain about his guilt.
The same survey said 43% of the Filipinos cannot say whether Corona is guilty or not. Only 5% say he is innocent.
Dr. Ana Maria Tabunda, Pulse Asia chief research fellow, earlier said the survey is not meant to influence the senator-judges.
Ties with PNoy
Holmes, meanwhile, admitted that President Aquino’s cousin, Antonio Cojuangco, has a stake in Pulse Asia.
He said Cojuangco, along with the non-academic group, had a 35% stake in Pulse Asia when it was formed in 1999. He said the firm is majority-owned by academics who also are not involved in the organization’s day-to-day operations.
“Our private investors had never had involvement from the start. Wala silang influence,” he said.
He also said Rafael Lopa, another cousin of Aquino, used to be Pulse Asia’s president. Lopa stepped down in 2008.
Holmes said the crafting of questions for the Pulse Asia surveys is exclusively done by academics.
He said that while politicians and private questions sometimes commission surveys, they are not allowed to craft the questions.
“We ask them what they want to find out but we don’t allow them to formulate the questions. Mahirap yan dahil baka maging leading ang questions. When we release the data, even the questions are included to show if it is wrong or leading,” he said.