Parsing the recent surveys

By: John Carlo Tria

I HAVE been asked what I think of the most recent survey of the Social Weather Stations (1st quarter 2018), done in the last week of March 2018, which shows the same high satisfaction ratings of the government, particularly the performance of the president.

A few expected a significant (more than 10%) drop in the ratings due to the performance of now resigned Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, and the announcement of the “closure” of Boracay. But the results do not seem to reflect that.

Let’s first start with what the survey firm has to say:

“The 2-point decline in President Duterte’s net satisfaction rating from December 2017 to March 2018 was due to declines of 11 points in Balance Luzon and 1 point in Metro Manila, combined with increases of 12 points in the Visayas and 2 points in Mindanao.

The President’s net satisfaction rating stayed very good in the Visayas at +65 (75% satisfied, 9% dissatisfied, correctly rounded) in March 2018, up by 12 points from +53 (72% satisfied, 18% dissatisfied, correctly rounded) in December 2017 [Chart 2].

It stayed excellent in Mindanao, at +82 (87% satisfied, 5% dissatisfied) in March 2018, up by 2 points from +80 (84% satisfied, 5% dissatisfied, correctly rounded) in December 2017.

The two percentage point decline is hardly significant since it keeps the president within the Very Good range. What is significant is the 12-point increase in the Visayas, coming, as it does, on the heels of the months-long controversy surrounding Boracay island in the Visayas, which has a number of island establishments up in arms over the 6-month closure. I would assume that the rest of the Visayan islands may be up in arms as well. The data, however, may not suggest that.

We can understand the excellent rating in Mindanao, as people are beginning to see a good number of infrastructure projects completed and commencing, and the ongoing peace initiatives being pushed with secessionist groups. Again, this excellent rating goes against the sentiments of some who feel that the Marawi response is not justified. In short, whatever complaints or objections are expressed have not dented his support base.

What the public, particularly those in balance Luzon, may feel, is that governments promises may not be delivered as fast as they had hoped, with recent improvements in the MRT’s performance and construction work on several road projects linking the metro to the adjoining provinces still in progress.  This public may demand more visible signs of the promised change, hence the results of surveys among them.

My take reflects that of a few friends who have opined that by and large, it would, therefore, seem as if the public has grown indifferent to the cries of those opposing governments tough measures, like those, for instance, against drug lords. Whether this may signal approval of the hard measures is not something we can easily conclude, but it may be safe to suggest it subject to more validated surveys.

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