MANILA—Disinformation and propaganda are playing a part in the popularity of presidential aspirant Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. among low-income groups, making him the frontrunner to replace President Rodrigo Duterte in the May 2022 elections, a political analyst said Monday.
Cleve Arguelles, lecturer at the De La Salle University's political science department, said lower-income earners were most "vulnerable" to fake news due to limited Internet access.
"I definitely think that disinformation, for example, propaganda really plays a role in why Marcos Jr. is gaining ground among low-income voters, low-income communities," he told ANC's "Rundown".
"The way they used social media, they rely on free data. That means certain information won't be really accessible to them. That makes them vulnerable to disinformation campaigns, the use of fake news."
A fact-checking group earlier told the Senate that Marcos had benefited from disinformation campaigns in the run-up to the 2022 polls.
Misleading posts promoting his father's regime, supposedly distorting historical accounts, have been observed in social media, University of the Philippines' journalism professor Yvonne Chua had said.
In the latest Pulse Asia survey, the son and namesake of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos emerged as the most preferred presidential candidate among respondents from socioeconomic classes CDE.
In second place is Vice President Leni Robredo, garnering the support of 16 percent of respondents.
With 60 percent of respondents saying they would vote for Marcos, Arguelles said the platform of unity was working for the standard-bearer of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas.
"I think one of the things that's really working well for the Marcos Jr. campaign is really the fact that they can bank on the platform of unity because they were able to bring together 2 political forces in the country," he said.
Marcos is running in tandem with Duterte's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
Like many other political observers, Arguelles believed Marcos had started his campaign for the Malacañang as early as 2016.
Concerns over disqualification cases against Marcos also failed to sway survey respondents, he added.
But as the official campaign period started only last week, Arguelles said many things could still happen that could affect survey rankings.
He said Robredo entered the presidential race "quite late" and results of efforts of her volunteer groups may take a while before it's reflected on the ground.
Sooner or later, voters will start becoming disappointed over Marcos' absence in interviews and debates, he added.
"We just started the official campaign period. If we go back to the January 2016 surveys, President Rodrigo Duterte wasn’t really at the top of the surveys during that time," Arguelle said.
"There's really time for so much things to happen. We shouldn’t underestimate the contingent and quite spontaneous nature of the election campaign."