Social Climate

The role of alternative data

The Social Weather Stations’ Second Quarter 2019 finding of a “Very Good” satisfaction rating on President Duterte has, of course, pleased his partisans very much, and shocked his detractors to the same degree.

The +68 score is Mr. Duterte’s new personal best in the SWS series. It is up by two points from his previous best of +66, reached for the first time in June 2017 and then a second time in March 2019. It has now overtaken the personal best +67 of President Benigno Aquino III, which was in August 2012.


The new PRRD score is not the all-time best of SWS history, however. The best was the “Excellent” +72 of President Cory Aquino, back in October 1986.  Neither has it matched the all-time second-best, which was a “Very Good” +69, also of Cory, in March 1987. (A score of +70 is what separates “Excellent” from “Very Good” in SWS terminology.)

Criticism of SWS by skeptics of specific survey findings is a normal occupational hazard. Our job is to ensure that a sound methodology was properly followed by the field-workers and the data processors, and then to report whatever numbers come out. To evaluate the quality of our numbers is not for us, but for others, who should check other polls for consistency, or, better yet, conduct their own surveys.


How, for instance, can a patient dispute his physician’s diagnosis that his laboratory test results are pointing to cancer? This patient’s recourse is to seek a second opinion from another physician, who should first evaluate the initial data from the lab, and then may well ask for the tests to be repeated, perhaps by an alternative lab, to produce alternative data.

Every quarterly Social Weather Survey asks the respondents about many topics. The report on Mr. Duterte’s rating was the first media release based on the June 2019 survey.  The second release of the series is: “Second Quarter 2019 Social Weather Survey: 93% of adult Filipinos say it is important that the PH regains control of China-occupied islands in the West PH Sea,” www.sws.org.ph, 7/10/2019.

Filipinos are intensely opposed to China’s incursion in the West Philippine Sea (WPS). There has been growing intensity, in four surveys from June 2018 to June 2019, of anti-China attitudes in connection with the West Philippine Sea.

Those saying it is important to regain control of the islands in the WPS are now at 93 percent, from 87 percent a year ago.

Those feeling it is wrong to do nothing about the Chinese infrastructures and military presence on the islands are at 89 percent now, from 81 percent before.

Those wanting to strengthen our country’s military capability, especially that of the Philippine Navy, are at 92 percent now, from 80 percent before.

Those wanting the government to bring the issue to international organizations like the United Nations or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, for diplomatic and peaceful negotiation with China, are at 83 percent now, from 74 percent before.


Those saying it is right for the government to form alliances with other countries that are ready to help in defending our security in the WPS are at 84 percent. This is a new SWS survey item.

The same Filipinos that are highly satisfied with President Duterte’s general performance are also solidly opposed to his conciliatory stance toward China on matters of the West Philippine Sea. Can skeptics about this cite any contradictory evidence?

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TAGS: opinion, Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, Satisfaction Rating, Social Weather Stations, SWS
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