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Social Climate
Filipino ideals of good citizenship

By Mahar Mangahas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:33:00 04/19/2008

Filed Under: Social Issues, Citizenship

Last week I reported that we Filipinos, relative to other nationalities, are outstanding in caring about the right of civil disobedience. However, we are below average in caring about the right to a minimum living standard, the rights of minorities, the right to equal treatment, the right to be heard, and the right to participate in the democratic process.

Good citizenship entails, of course, not only demanding rights but also fulfilling duties.

This week, I will report, also based on the 2004 Survey on Citizenship of the International Social Survey Program (www.issp.org), that Filipinos, relative to others, have outstandingly high ideals about what one should do to be a good citizen.

The 2004 ISSP Citizenship Survey made a list of 10 duties of citizens and asked the respondents to grade each one in importance to them personally, on a scale of 1 to 7, where 1 is ?Not at all important? and 7 is ?Very important.? Here are the percentages giving answers 6 or 7 for Filipinos, some nationalities of interest, and the global average, in the sequence in which the duties of citizens were rated:

1. Always to vote in elections: Filipinos 88, Americans 78, Mexicans 75, Koreans 71, global 68, Taiwanese and Spaniards 68, Japanese 67. On putting importance to voting, the Philippines ranks No. 1, followed by Denmark (87) and Canada (84). The lowest is the Czech Republic (37).

2. Never to try to evade taxes: Japanese 85, Americans 84, Taiwanese 80, Filipinos 79, Koreans 78, Mexicans and Spaniards 75, global 73. The duty to pay proper taxes is the only issue where the Philippines is outranked by more than one of the base-comparison countries. Japan is No. 1, and the United States is tied for No. 2 with Great Britain. The Philippines, only six points behind Japan, is tied for No. 9 with Chile and Slovakia. Last is Flanders (52).

3. Always to obey laws and regulations: Filipinos 86, Americans 85, Mexicans 84, Taiwanese 83, Japanese 81, global 78, Koreans 77, Spaniards 76. On top, all at 88, are Venezuela, Bulgaria, Canada and Poland. The Philippines, only two points behind the leaders, is tied for No. 8 with Chile and Ireland. Last is Switzerland (51).

4. To keep watch on the actions of government: Filipinos 79, Americans 75, Mexicans 69, Japanese 59, Taiwanese 59, global 55, Koreans 53, Spaniards 50. No. 1 is Canada (81), closely followed by the Philippines and the United States. At the bottom is the Czech Republic (23).

5. To be active in social or political associations: Filipinos 59, Mexicans 49, Spaniards and Americans 30, Koreans 27, global 26, Taiwanese 22, Japanese 15. On this, the Philippines?the recognized Asian leader in civil society organizations?is No. 1; it is the only country where a majority give importance to it. Mexico and South Africa are tied for No. 2. Last is Finland (6).

6. To try to understand the reasoning of people with other opinions: Mexicans 76, Filipinos 68, Americans 67, Spaniards 65, global 61, Koreans 59, Japanese 49, Taiwanese 47. No. 1 is Uruguay (85), followed by Mexico. The Philippines is No. 9. Last is the Czech Republic (35), just below Taiwan.

7. To choose products for political, ethical or environmental reasons, even if they cost a bit more: Spaniards 53, Filipinos 47, Koreans 44, Taiwanese 39, Americans 37, Mexicans 35, global 34, Japanese 25. No. 1 is Portugal (56), followed by Spain, and Australia (49). Only two countries have majorities who say that a good citizen-consumer should use some social criteria. The Philippines is tied for No. 4 with Austria. At the bottom is Bulgaria (8).

8. To help people in [name of this country] who are worse off than yourself: Mexicans 85, Filipinos 79, Spaniards 74, Americans 70, global 62, Taiwanese 60, Koreans 50, Japanese 41. The leaders are Venezuela (90), Chile (88), Uruguay (86), and then Mexico. The Philippines is No. 6, after Israel (80). At the bottom are the Czech Republic (31) and Hungary (38), just below Japan.

9. To help people in the rest of the world who are worse off than yourself: Mexicans 80, Spaniards 67, Filipinos 55, global 44, Americans 37, Taiwanese 36, Japanese 28, Koreans 20 (last place). No. 1 is Venezuela (85), followed by Mexico. Spain is No. 4. The Philippines, a huge 30 points below the leader, is nevertheless No. 9 because only in 10 countries do majorities say that helping others in the world is part of being a good citizen. This is the one issue on which the United States is below average.

10. To be willing to serve in the military at a time of need: Filipinos 62, Americans 60, Taiwanese 57, Mexicans 56, Koreans 54, global 43, Spaniards 25, Japanese 13. No. 1 is Israel (79), where universal military service is a matter of national survival. Israel is far ahead of Russia (65), Poland (63), and the Philippines, which is tied for No. 4 with Venezuela. At the bottom are Flanders (12) and Japan.

Aside from Filipinos, only Mexicans are always above the global average. By ranking No. 1 twice, No. 2 once, and no worse than No. 9, we Filipinos have an average rank of 5.3 in giving importance to citizens? duties. Venezuelans have three No. 1 rankings, but have a poorer average of 8.3 on account of three rankings of No. 14 or worse. Mexicans, who outrank Filipinos in three of the 10 citizens? duties, have an average rank of 8.6.

Much can be learned about ourselves by studying others. Survey evidence shows, not for the first time, that to denigrate Filipinos with the term ?damaged culture? is to rely on parachute journalism rather than on social science.

* * *

Contact Social Weather Stations: www.sws.org.ph or mahar.mangahas@sws.org.ph

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