Of numbers and trust
From birth to death, numbers are quite ubiquitous in our daily lives. On the day we were born, a number, or some numbers have already been associated with us: our birth date, the time, day and year, and even the order of birth, if we are in a household of multiple siblings.
On the day of our birth, we become part of that day’s statistics. When we die, it is the same thing.
And journalists write “30” when they die. In between birth and death, we deal with numbers in everything we do. In elementary and high school, numbers starting with 75 up to 95 mean a lot—these numbers become the determinants of your place in school. You are either part of the “slow learners” section with 75 as your average grade, or you are part of the “honors class” if your grades are within the 90s. In college, students with grades of the least number, like 1, enjoy accolades and perks as graduates with Latin titles (summa cum laude, magna cum laude).
Numbers also define people’s socioeconomic location, in terms of their family’s income and what this income can do to put them and their family in an esteemed place in society. So if the numbers associated with family income are quite meager, some people resort to nefarious activities to even up the equation, to be able to enjoy the perks of having a lot of money at their disposal. As one former coworker once said to me, “It would be nice to go to a department store and not look at the price tags of things I want to buy and just grab and show everyone that I am the least concerned about the cost…”
On the other hand, trust is something that we all need to have to be able to forge lasting relationships—filial, friendly, romantic, platonic—all these are nourished with trust as the foundation. These relationships later on would be shattered when trust between or among partners is broken.
But, can we use numbers to measure trust in our leaders?
What does it mean when the President sitting in Malacañang “enjoys” a trust rating of more than 50 percent? Is this level of trust characteristic of a satisfactory relationship between the President and the mass of Filipinos, whose children cannot go to school because of poverty? Many of these children live in isolated, hard-to-reach areas where there are no schools. Some children in Mindanao have not been going to school because they are frequently evacuating due to recurring violence in their communities. The recent 42-page report of Vice President Leni Robredo has used a lot of information with numbers, all of which are sourced from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the Philippine National Police and other related government agencies working on the drug problem. In her report, the Vice President argues that despite government’s relentless efforts in the war on drugs, the consumption of illegal drugs continues to rise, thus, the war on drugs is largely a failure.Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, the promoter of Operation “Tokhang,” has denounced the report, saying among others that the government has been successful, just by the huge numbers of people killed in police operations. This could be a self-incriminating retort, but he doesn’t seem to know the repercussions of what he said.Ironically, the Vice President’s figures are based on data the PNP and other government agencies have provided her.
At least, the Vice President has made an incisive and provocative analysis of the numbers she got from PDEA, et al.; unlike Dela Rosa, who incriminated himself by admitting to the huge number of people killed under Operation Tokhang.
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