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Social Climate

Glad to be rid of Marcos

/ 05:05 AM February 29, 2020

When Social Weather Stations was established, in August 1985, it was poised for a joint project, with Ateneo de Manila University, of four national opinion polls in the next two years. From the very first survey, done on May 2 to June 8, 1986 on a scientific sample of 2,000 adults, it was evident that the Filipino people were glad that Ferdinand Marcos was finally gone.

When the SWS-Ateneo survey tested 9 characterizations of Marcos, it got 7 unfavorable results, 1 neutral result, and only 1 favorable result.

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1. As to whether he was “caring for friends who enriched themselves by pocketing government funds,” 54 percent of the survey respondents agreed, and only 33 percent disagreed.

2. Was Marcos “favoring foreign interests in our country”? — 54 percent agreed, 31 percent disagreed.

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3. Was he “a thief of the nation’s wealth”? — 52 percent agreed, 34 percent disagreed.

4. Was he “a defender of the poor and oppressed”? — 39 percent agreed, 52 percent disagreed.

5. Was he “a deceiver or liar”? — 51 percent agreed, 35 percent disagreed.

6. Was he “a humble President”? — 40 percent agreed, 50 percent disagreed.

7. Was he “true to the duties of a patriotic President”? — 41 percent agreed, 47 percent disagreed.

8. Was he “a severe, brutal and oppressive President”? — 44 percent agreed and 44 percent disagreed; this was the only split opinion.

9. The one characterization that proved favorable to Marcos was on whether he was “a brave President.” Here, 69 percent agreed, and 25 percent disagreed.

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Consequently, 65 percent said that Marcos should NOT return to the Philippines, and only 29 percent felt that he should.

Who really won the snap election? The most challenging item in the May/June 1986 survey was on the outcome of the snap election of Feb. 7, two weeks before the people massed on Edsa for what became the People Power Revolution. The election was controversial, since the official count had called Marcos the winner, but the Namfrel parallel count had called Corazon Aquino the winner. When the SWS-Ateneo survey respondents were asked for whom they had voted, 64 percent (of those that voted) said they had voted for Aquino, only 27 percent said they had voted for Marcos, and 9 percent did not answer. When asked who won in their own precinct, 70 percent said it was Cory Aquino.

Relief in 1986 from the economic crisis of 1984-85. In the May/June 1986 survey, 27 percent of the respondents said their quality of life was better than the year before, while 25 percent said it was worse, for a Net Gainers score of +2. This was a marked improvement from June 1985, which had 9 percent Gainers versus 57 percent Losers (Net -48), and from April 1984, which had 12 percent Gainers versus 51 percent Losers (Net -39).

The dismal economic situation in the previous years was obviously due to the hyperinflation of 50 percent in 1984 and 25 percent in 1985. Self-Rated Poverty was at its peak of 74 percent in 1985; it eased to 66 percent in 1986. Hardship was widespread; it was not a “golden age.”

The SWS-Ateneo 1986 project extended the data of the 1984 and 1985 surveys of the Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference for Human Development (BBC), which had found 3 of every 5 Filipinos opposed to Marcos’ authoritarian powers to legislate by Presidential Decree and to detain anyone through mere fiat. (The institutional background of SWS is in my book, “The Philippine Social Climate,” Anvil Publishing, 1994.)

Incidentally, along with the severe economic and political rumblings, the BBC surveys also saw moderate public satisfaction with Marcos as president in his final years: in 1984, 44 percent gross, +19 net; in 1985, 47 percent gross, +23 net. This goes to show that a presidential satisfaction rating is NOT the bottom line.

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TAGS: marcos, self-rated poverty, Social Weather Stations, The Philippine Social Climate
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