Social Climate

The SWS surveys of 2018

/ 05:22 AM February 09, 2019

Since 2002, it has been traditional for Social Weather Stations to present a year’s worth of its surveys at a public forum at the Asian Institute of Management in Makati City, cosponsored by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. Last week’s “The 2019 SWS Survey Review,” (2/1/19) was already the 18th of this annual series (the presentation is at www.sws.org.ph). Today’s piece has the highlights and my comments.

President Duterte has had a honeymoon of 10 quarters so far, but it is not unusually long. It still has to match Cory Aquino’s 13 quarters and Noynoy Aquino’s 15 quarters. The people’s feeling of freedom to speak against the government has been high and steady since 1986—SWS has surveyed this at least annually since 1985.


The percentage worried about the President’s health rose from 55 last September to 66 in December. Filipinos recognize his vulgarity, but take it merely as his style of speech, and haven’t let it

color their high regard for his critics, such as the International Criminal Court, the United Nations or United States.


The report card of the administration has generally Good grades. The poorest subject is Fighting Inflation, as usual, but at least its grade is positive. The closure of Boracay was popular. Establishing a national identification card is also popular.

The people support the campaign against illegal drugs, but doubt the truthfulness of the police and deplore the government’s unconcern for the lives of drug suspects. They are very worried about becoming EJK victims themselves. In 2018, there was worsening in victimization by common crimes, and of insecurity of homes and streets. On the other hand, the noticeability of drug addicts was stable.

Most Filipinos want to maintain the constitutional ban on the death penalty. For ALL serious crimes, including rape, the majority see life imprisonment as sufficient punishment. Seventy percent worry about becoming a victim of a heinous crime, and 62 percent worry about being falsely accused of committing such a crime.

Filipinos strongly agree that arresting loiterers or “tambays” is a violation of human rights. It discriminates against the poor by a factor of 20 to 1. Two out of three worry that they themselves may be arrested for it.

For youths below 18 who commit rape or murder, most Filipinos say jail is proper. But only half want jail for drug-passing, and few seek jail for stealing cellphones or food. The median age of responsibility given by those wanting youthful offenders jailed is 15 years, not 12.

There is no let-up in the intense antipathy toward China on account of its occupation of islands in the West Philippine Sea. The Filipino people deplore the do-nothing stance on this issue, and demand the return of the area to Philippine control.

Filipinos continue to have a low trust in China, and a very high trust in the United States.  They strongly believe that the United States will defend the Philippines in case of invasion by another country.


The Gainers-minus-Losers indicator bounced back to positive in the fourth quarter after having dropped to zero in the third. Personal Optimism and Economic Optimism remain very high.

The trend in economic deprivation is mixed. The annual average rates of Self-Rated general poverty and food poverty rose in 2016-18, after falling in 2014-16. By the end of 2018, half of all families were poor.  Hunger, however, continued to abate from the great hump in 2005-14.

Muslim Filipinos support the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) very strongly. Most Filipinos (for whom the BOL would not directly apply) are neutral toward it, and on balance favor it.

Upon realizing that the essence of federalism is to insert a new level of local government between national and provincial, only 37 percent of Filipinos like it, 29 percent dislike it, and the rest cannot say. There is no popular cry for federalism.

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TAGS: Boracay, China, crime, drugs, Duterte, Filipinos, Social Weather Stations, surveys, SWS, USA
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