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Social Climate

2012 was a good year

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The general message of the SWS 2013 Annual Survey Review, given last Thursday at the Asian Institute of Management Conference Center, is that 2012 was quite a good year.  Some highlights follow.

There has been record-high public satisfaction with governance. With a general performance rating of Very Good, President Aquino has already equaled Fidel V. Ramos’ record for having the longest “honeymoon” with the public. Vice President Jejomar Binay has equaled Erap Estrada’s Excellent in the latter’s early VP years. Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s Moderate popularity rating exceeds the ratings of Chief Justices Antonio Carpio (in an acting capacity), Renato Corona, Reynato Puno and Artemio Panganiban.

The present Aquino administration’s consistent overall scores of Very Good were never achieved before from the time of Cory Aquino when the SWS surveys began.  Its scores of Very Good in helping the poor, and Good in assisting overseas Filipino workers, promoting foreign relations, defending our territorial rights, clarity, transparency, land reform, foreign investments, reconciliation with Muslim rebels, and fighting terrorism are unprecedented.

Its score in fighting corruption is Moderate, whereas all past administrations got grades of Poor or at most Neutral.  Managers of enterprises around the country also see big gains in fighting public-sector corruption.  The bad news, however, is that the managers have reported stagnation in fighting private-sector corruption.

The administration’s scores in fighting hunger and inflation are Neutral, whereas past scores were all Bad or at most Poor.  The only dark spot is the unresolved Maguindanao massacre case.

The surveys of 2011 and 2012 show improvements in popular satisfaction with local governance compared to the 2009 surveys.  In the city government report cards on dozens of subjects, grades that used to be Very Good turned Excellent; scores of Good turned Very Good, and scores of Moderate turned Good.  The current lowest-graded subject is eradicating corruption— at Neutral now, compared to Poor in 2009.

The removal of Chief Justice Corona and the enactment of the RH law were both very popular. Many were unsure about trusting the Senate’s ability to decide the impeachment case fairly; but, whatever the ruling, two-thirds said they would accept it.

The progress in creating the Bangsamoro has renewed hopes for peace.

Year by year, there is growing popular acceptance that the K-to-12 education program will prepare students better for work and/or college. Readership of conventional materials is declining, perhaps due to growing Internet usage.

Cigarette smoking will be cut by price hikes caused by the new taxation scheme; more so if graphic health warnings (GHWs) are mandated. Eight percent of adolescents aged 13-17 are current smokers; they average five sticks per day.  If cigarette price reaches P10 per stick, half of them will stop smoking.  If GHWs come in, 63 percent say they will reduce their smoking, and 34 percent say they will stop completely.

The race for the Senate in the May 2013 election is led by two independents, four from the ruling coalition (C), and six from the opposition (UNA). As of early December 2012, independents Loren Legarda and Chiz Escudero were first and second. Then came: 3. Alan Peter Cayetano (C), 4. Cynthia Villar (C), 5. JV Ejercito (UNA), 6. Koko Pimentel (C), 7. Jack Ponce Enrile (UNA), 8. Gringo Honasan (UNA), 9. Nancy Binay (UNA), 10. Migz Zubiri (UNA), 11. Sonny Trillanes (C), and 12. Dick Gordon (UNA).  Close behind at 13 was Sonny Angara (C).

Thus, the independents aside, the C-UNA score is 4-6. (At the presentation, I mistakenly scored it 5-5 due to an error in the color-coding of the candidates’ parties; sorry!)

Voters are unlikely to be swayed by opposers of the RH law. Among those who say that a senatorial or congressional candidate’s stand on RH matters, the prospective voters for pro-RH candidates outnumber voters who are for anti-RH candidates by four to one.

For a decade or more, there has been no abatement in the incidence of hunger, poverty, joblessness and crime. The numbers on these problem areas are high and have had a flat trend for many years.  This long-standing neglect will not get remedied if the government puts no effort into scientific studies of the data. (For instance, the new draft Neda “Socioeconomic Report: The first two years of the Aquino administration, 2010-2012” has no statistics on poverty or hunger, from any source.)

The people’s morale is very high. The spread of optimists over pessimists on their personal quality of life 12 months ahead has been consistently well over 20 points in the last two years.  More remarkably, feelings about the future general economy have been optimistic since 2010, after having been steadily pessimistic since 1999.  Eighty-five percent feel Very Proud to be Filipino.

* * *

SWS thanks the AIM Policy Center and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation for cosponsoring its Annual Survey Review, for the 14th time since 2002.  We likewise thank the three presentation-reactors: Cibac party-list representative Sherwin Tugna, former Internal Revenue Commissioner Guillermo Parayno Jr., and Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon.

* * *

I salute Eduardo G. Araullo, who passed away suddenly last Saturday from a heart attack—patriot, lawyer for human rights and labor welfare, corruption-fighter, basketball buddy, true friend.  (His story has been written by Carol Pagaduan-Araullo in http://bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Opinion&title=Atty.-Eduardo-G.-Araullo-(1947-2013)&id=64817.)

* * *

Contact SWS: or mahar.mangahas@sws.org.ph.


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