Press Release
November 29, 2015


Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago on Sunday said that social media has led to an extraordinary change in voting attitude among Filipinos, as she emerged as netizens' top choice for president in a Facebook-based poll.

Latest results of the survey on Facebook page Pinoy History showed that 48.36 percent of respondents want Santiago as president in 2016, despite the fact that she is the only presidential aspirant who has yet to release campaign ads.

Bets bombarding the media with ads tailed Santiago: Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, 42.35 percent; former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, 3.86 percent; Sen. Grace Poe, 2.15 percent; and Vice President Jejomar Binay, 1.28 percent.

The group behind the survey claimed the results show "the real score of candidates in the upcoming presidential elections" according to the 40 million social media users in the Philippines.

"Social media is the key to winning the 2016 elections. Traditional politicians can always pay for advertisements, or even pre-election surveys, but no amount of money can silence Filipinos on social media," Santiago said.

Since announcing her presidential bid in October, Santiago has not tapped traditional media--television, radio, and print--for ads, in deference to election laws that intended to limit the campaign period to be from February 9 to May 7.

In the 2009 case of Peñera v. Commission on Elections, the Supreme Court ruled that the offense of premature campaigning has been decriminalized by R.A. No. 8436, or the New Poll Automation Law, as amended.

To reject the Peñera doctrine, Santiago has filed Senate Bill No. 2445, or the Anti-Premature Campaigning Bill, which seeks to prohibit candidates and even prospective candidates from campaigning a year before the elections.

"A protracted campaign period corrupts elected officials because it allows them to spend more and more money for ads. They are bound to steal that money back when they are in office," the senator said.

"In addition, sincere but poor candidates always lose their chance to serve the public to richer and more popular candidates. In the absence of a law that will break this cycle, social media is the equalizer," Santiago said.

Despite not having ads, Santiago consistently tops online pre-election surveys. In a recent survey on the official Facebook fan page of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Santiago was chosen by some 64 percent of the 135,622 respondents.

Poe was a far second in the poll, with only 14.35 percent of votes, followed by Roxas (11.64 percent), and Binay (7.26 percent). The PUP survey was conducted from October 16, the deadline for filing of certificates of candidacy, to October 25.

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