Mixed feelings | Inquirer Opinion
Social Climate

Mixed feelings

/ 12:06 AM December 24, 2016

To understand public opinion, one should accept whatever are the people’s honest responses to a set of survey questions, and have faith that there is an internal logic, conscious or unconscious, behind the responses.

From the responses, one tries to discover, and to articulate, that logic. To impose one’s own personal logic on the people, and then complain if their responses do not seem to make sense, is unproductive.


Fear of EJK. The respondents of the Dec. 3-6, 2016 (henceforth called 2016Q4), SWS survey, among whom 77 percent said they were satisfied with Rodrigo Duterte’s presidential performance, were the same Filipinos among whom 78 percent said they were worried that they, or someone they knew, might become a victim of extrajudicial killing (EJK).

Thus, being satisfied with President Duterte, and at same time worried about becoming an EJK victim, is not something strange or hard to accept. It’s actually a common mixture of feelings.


It suggests to me that a concern for their physical security in the midst of the President’s war on illegal drugs is but one—and not the most important one—of the many aspects of his performance that the people care about.

The 2016Q4 survey further shows that the respondents not worried about being “EJKed” gave Mr. Duterte an Excellent rating, while those worried about it gave him only a Very Good. This means that the people’s personal security does have relevance to their appraisal of him.

General perception of the campaign against illegal drugs. Very many, but not all, are pleased with the performance of the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs. The 2016Q4 survey found 85 percent satisfied with it, 8 percent dissatisfied with it, and 7 percent in between.

Among those satisfied with the antidrug campaign, the President got an Excellent rating of +72. On the other hand, his rating dropped to a Neutral +5 among those dissatisfied with it. Among fence-sitters, his rating was a Moderate +29. This pattern indicates the importance of maintenance of perceptions about the quality of the campaign to the popularity of the President.

The trend in the scale of the illegal drug problem. The bottom line is what people sense about the trend in illegal drugs in their own areas, since the time that Mr. Duterte took office in mid-2016. Has the problem decreased in scale, or not? In 2016Q4, 88 percent said that it had decreased, while 9 percent were unsure about what had happened, and 4 percent said that it had NOT decreased.

The rating of Mr. Duterte was a Very Good +68 among those who said that the problem had decreased, and a lower but still Very Good +52 among those unsure about the trend. However, his rating collapsed to a Poor -17 among those who said that the drug problem in their areas had not decreased.

The -17 indicates that a simple status quo of the drug problem will be a great disappointment. The administration has put so many of its eggs into the illegal-drugs basket that a plain status quo will most likely be construed as a serious failure.


More expect to be happy at Christmas. In 2006Q4, 73 percent of adults expect Christmas to be happy, and only 5 percent expect it to be sad. This is the third year of the happy-rate going over 70, after 10 years (2004-13) of being in the 60s. The sad-rate is the lowest since 2003.

I am pleased to report that the Christmas spirit appears uncorrelated with the performance of President Duterte, the progress of the war on drugs, and fear of being an EJK victim. The Filipino people aren’t going to let such matters spoil Christmas.

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TAGS: Duterte, EJK, Illegal drugs, Killing, opinion, Society, survey, SWS
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