Netizens want Aquino to keep out of elections, Yahoo! poll shows

Kim Arveen Patria
Kim Arveen Patria
Yahoo! Southeast Asia Newsroom

President Benigno Aquino III may be the rallying force behind the administration coalition, but Yahoo! poll respondents think he should downplay his involvement in the election campaign.

Asked if the President should keep himself out of the 2013 Senatorial elections, 63 percent or 31,862 of the 50,341 Yahoo! poll respondents chose the answer "Yes! [He should] focus on his job as President."

Aquino's involvement in the midterm elections, however, is seen as normal and is seemingly expected by 31 percent (15,460) of the total Yahoo! poll respondents.

On the other hand, 6 percent (3,019) chose the answer "I don't really care."

Related story: PNoy to play 'very active' role in administration campaign for 2013 polls

The poll has been posted on the Yahoo! Philippines frontpage from Jan. 30 to Feb. 4 and was answered by a total of 50,341 users.

It comes at the heels of the administration coalition's statement that Aquino will play a "very active role" in the campaign for the midterm polls.

In fact, the ruling party's slate fashioned the shorter name "Team PNoy", using the name by which the President prefers to be called by the local media.

Aquino's voice can also be heard endorsing the administration coalition's Senate bets in Team PNoy's broadcast ads.

Also read: Aquino party to punish members backing opposition bets

Under the Constitution, public servants are banned from participating in election campaigns or from endorsing candidates.

The Commission on Elections has noted, however, that the rule exempts so-called "political officials," including the President and his appointees.

"The ban imposed by the Constitution on public servants is not absolute," elections commissioner Rene Sarmiento has said in an interview prior to his retirement.

"The President can campaign because his position is political. So such position is not covered by prohibition," Sarmiento added.

In the 2010 elections, Aquino, then a presidential bet, also appeared in the ads of the Liberal Party's senatorial bets, calling them his allies in pushing for the "tuwid na daan (righteous path)."

Related story: Who's in the Senate top 12?

"The President will not only be visible in ads. He will also be very active sa campaign, but of course without sacrificing governance," Team PNoy campaign spokesman and Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone has been quoted as saying.

"As long as his schedule permits, he will be at the campaign trail," Evardone further said.

This has been met with mixed reactions, including criticisms from the United Nationalist Alliance led by Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Liberal Party campaign manager Senator Franklin Drilon, for his part, has defended the President's endorsement as his personal prerogative.

"There's nothing wrong about it. He has the right to encourage the people to vote for the candidates of his choice," reports quoted Drilon as saying.

Related slideshow: LP vows 'decent elections'