YOU KNOW WHAT’S THE BEST THING about having so many clashing opinions about issues among us? There is always an independent body that tells us what most Filipinos think about them.
One such body is the Social Weather Station (SWS) headed by Dr. Mahar Mangahas.
What are the implications of the findings of SWS about the Filipinos’ take on the burning issues of 2018?
The “high popularity” of President Digong Duterte of 11 quarters from date of office assumption is consistent with the 13 quarters of Cory Aquino and 15 quarters of her son Noynoy Aquino. It would be prudent, therefore, for Digong to realize that high popularity is never forever, so he should not always throw caution to the wind at all times.
On the other hand , the increased number of those concerned about the health of Digong from 55% to 66%, not just reflects his popularity but also their concern about an “orderly” succession if and when the president fails.
The vulgarity of the president’s everyday language offends a certain portion of the population whose sentiment, unfortunately, is apparently not shared by the majority of Filipinos.
It appears that “vulgarity” is not a defining trait of a presidency.
The rating of the administration, on the one hand, is generally positive except for the control of inflation which means the way to an electorate’s heart is always through the stomach. The popularity of the “Boracay” closure, on the other hand, shows a growing awareness of people about environmental issues.
SWS findings indicate people generally favor the “Drug War” but not the liberality that human lives- mostly the poor- are being wasted – is highly unpopular. Government says crime has receded but the SWS survey (2018) says there is a growing victimization of common crimes and of greater insecurity about the safety of their property and lives. Where is the disconnect here?
Filipinos are still largely Christian in orientation and frowns upon anything that abbreviates one’s live- including the death penalty. That is why even for heinous crimes, Filipinos prefer the life imprisonment.
Government does listen to public opinion, at least in some instances. For instance, the plan to arrest “istambays” was roundly frowned upon by Pinoys, violative as it is as they say -of human rights. Pinoys also said only the poor by a ratio of 20:1 will be arrested. The government apparently blinked on this one.
Filipinos think that those below 18 committing heinous crimes deserve a jail term. But majority think lowering the criminal liability to cover those 12 years instead of 15 years is not acceptable (per SWS survey). Probably, this is because we have stinking prison cells and not enough rehabilitation centers. And the young will just be unduly influenced by bad prison elements when they are co-mingled.
Thankfully, we have not heard much about the lowering to 12 years proposal lately.
Meanwhile, despite the relative cordial treatment of our popular president of China, most Filipinos are angry about the occupation of the Chinese of some Shoal islands and the “American Boy” mentality still prevails- in that many Filipinos are still convinced that Washington will rescue RP from any invasion, despite America’s avowal not to anymore play Global Robocop.
The next issue is quite a puzzlement, as King of Siam of the “King and I” would say. SWS says Self-Rated Poverty dropped in 2014-2016 and rose in 2017-2018 yet Government statistics seem to say that the people living below the poverty line has been reduced gradually during the Duterte Administration.
Why more than half in the present still rate themselves poor is a question social psychologists are better left with to answer.
Most Muslims, meanwhile, are in favor of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) in 2018 very strongly and this has been validated by the 2019 plebiscite results. The non-Muslim Philippines is neutral but generally inclined to favor such BOL.
For Federalism- there is a split between those who favor or reject it. A big chunk of the SWS respondents, however, have no opinion about it, leading to our suspicion that they do not really understand Federalism and how that can be better than what we have now.
With the May elections in the offings, Federalism is probably dead in the water. Maybe perhaps if the Administration controls the next Senate.
But even then, will the Filipino people ratify such an alien ideology to them? We have our doubts.
The SWS must be praised for its independent and largely accurate reading of the nation’s pulse. It may not be the “correct voice” but it is the Voice of the People, right or wrong.
And we are in a democracy- or at least we are still decided we favor it more than any other form of government rule. We listen to that Voice and contemplate.
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