Repudiation of the pro-China stance
After its report on “Good” public satisfaction with President Duterte, SWS’ second media release from its June 27-30, 2018 survey was: “4 out of 5 Pinoys repudiate government’s policy of allowing Chinese intrusion in the West Philippine Sea” (www.sws.org.ph, 7/14/18).
These two SWS releases are based on the same sample of respondents, scientifically selected to be statistically representative of the entire population of Filipino adults. This means that these respondents, whose satisfaction with the President’s performance can be rated as “Good,” at the same time strongly disagree with his policy of noninterference with the Chinese moves into Philippine waters.
The findings in the second release, arranged in strength of public opinion, are:
81 percent of Filipinos say it is not right to leave China alone with its infrastructure and military presence in the territories claimed by the Philippines;
80 percent say it is right to strengthen the Philippines’ military capability, especially the navy;
74 percent say it is right to bring the issue to international organizations, like the United Nations or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, for diplomatic negotiations;
73 percent say it is right, nevertheless, for the Philippines and China to have direct bilateral negotiations; and
68 percent say it is right to ask other countries to mediate the issue.
The survey respondents were asked to classify each of the above steps as either RIGHT or NOT RIGHT (TAMA o HINDI TAMA) for the government to do. The steps were presented to the respondents in random order, by printing each step on a card, and shuffling the order of the cards beforehand.
The survey demonstrates that liking the President’s performance and disliking his policy toward China are not inconsistent attitudes. His net satisfaction rating is +44 (which is “Good”) among the four-fifths saying it is Not Right to leave China alone to do what it wants.
But it is +54 (or “Very Good”) among the one-fifth calling it a Right action. This suggests that he would have avoided the downgrade in his rating by acting more forcefully toward China.
The net trust rating of Filipinos for China is a “Bad” -37 among those opposed to letting China do as it wants. On the other hand, it is merely a “Poor” -28 among those willing to let China alone. Either way, it is decidedly negative.
A Social Weather Survey has very many topics. From its First Quarter survey of March 23-27, 2018, SWS did 18 media releases, from April to June, dealing with satisfaction with the President and other major officials, trust in the President and Vice President, satisfaction with government institutions, satisfaction with the national administration on 20 performance issues, household hunger and poverty, joblessness, optimism and pessimism, victimization by crime, satisfaction with how democracy works, the issue of fake news, the federalism concept, same-sex civil union, and the temporary closure of Boracay (see www.sws.org.ph).
Depending on the topic, SWS survey findings may turn out favorable, or unfavorable, to the administration. One cannot know until the survey is done; that is what the research is for.
The questionnaire of the Second Quarter survey of June 2018 has 218 basic items and 84 background items. It seeks to maximize the data that can be acquired from a single household interview. It cannot probe into everything under the sun. But it definitely considers much, much more than presidential popularity.
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