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Social Climate

Survey allegiance to the people

/ 05:05 AM February 01, 2020

This week, I did the traditional annual SWS Survey Review, in cooperation with the Rizalino S. Navarro Policy Center for Competitiveness and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, covering the quarterly Social Weather Surveys last year (https://www.sws.org.ph/downloads/publications/2020%20SWS%20Survey%20Review.pdf).

Among the contents of the review:

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The people say they feel free to speak, even against the government, and are aware of the risk of doing so, even when speaking the truth.

The people assessed the conduct of the 2019 election favorably.

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The people’s well-being continues its progress since 2014; but official figures understate the economic deprivation.

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (covered by a special sample in September 2019) fares very poorly relative to other areas, and deserves regular statistics.

Satisfaction with governance is generally high, continuing the trend since 2010.

The removal of VP Robredo from Icad was an admission of failure of the War on Illegal Drugs. Human rights abuses are many; few accept “nanlaban.” Help from international organizations is welcome.

The safety of the home and neighborhood streets is unchanged. But illegal drug usage is noticeably less.

The people demand forceful resistance to Chinese moves in the West Philippine Sea.

The people reject the policy “pivot” towards China, and prefer continuance of traditional relations with the United States. These surveys are intended for the information and use of the Filipino people. SWS has no political agenda, except to promote democracy. S

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WS is a nonprofit, nonstock, scientific organization, registered at the Securities and Exchange Commission since 1985. It is not a business, so calling it a “company” or “firm” is misleading; “institute” is a correct term for it. The general subject matter of the Social Weather Surveys is the totality of the people’s well-being, including social, economic, and political dimensions, known in the international research community as Quality of Life (QOL).

The SWS surveys generate QOL data on a quarterly basis, deliberately to compete with the Gross National Product’s quarterly data, which have unfairly dominated the discourse about the people’s well-being for so long. SWS gets survey data about society, as reported by the people, rather than about production of goods and services, as reported by the producers. There could be Filipinos who are uninformed, misinformed, and even disinformed, about the matters on which a survey delves. Yet, as citizens in a democracy, Filipinos have as much right to state their views as they do to choose for whom to vote. Their responses must be taken as they are, and must be counted democratically.

QOL involves a great variety of topics, difficult to digest and report all at once. Years ago, when SWS did comprehensive presentations, we found that the media would selectively report the bits they deemed “newsworthy” and neglect the rest. Experience has taught us that reporting a survey in pieces, rather than in bulk, is the effective way to transmit its many messages to the general public. A single quarterly SWS Survey has ample material for 13 weeks of media releases, before the survey cycle starts again.

For instance, its most recent reports, from the Fourth Quarter 2019 Social Weather Survey, were: “Quarterly Hunger decreases to 8.8%,” and “Net Gainers up 7 points to ‘Very High’ +18,” www.sws.org.ph, 1/24/20 and 1/29/20 respectively. SWS realizes that surveys can affect public discourse. We call this Statistics for Advocacy.

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