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The Bangsamoro deserves statistics

/ 08:15 PM October 12, 2012

The Framework Agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, announced last Sunday, declares that a new  political entity, the Bangsamoro (always preceded by “the”), shall be established to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Like any major political entity or social group, the Bangsamoro deserves to have its own statistics, to regularly ascertain the conditions of its people, and provide scientific guidance for promoting their development. As of now, there are some statistics about the ARMM or about Muslims in the Philippines, which are not exactly the same as the Bangsamoro, but are proxies for describing its situation.  I will give a few examples here, from SWS materials.

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P-Noy is extremely popular among Muslims. How many would guess, for instance, that President Aquino’s popularity is even higher among Muslims than among Filipinos in general?  The SWS Third Quarter survey for 2012, done last Aug. 24-27, found 89 percent of its Muslim respondents satisfied, and only 6 percent of them dissatisfied, with his performance, giving him a net satisfaction rating of +83, well above the +70 SWS border line for Excellent.

Thus, P-Noy’s popularity among Muslims far outstrips the 77 percent satisfied and 10 percent dissatisfied with him, for a net +67, among Filipinos nationwide in the Third Quarter, classified as Very Good.  I doubt that the new Framework Agreement does any harm to the President’s standing among Muslims.

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Poverty is much more extensive among Muslims. In the SWS survey of August 2012, self-rated poverty among families with Muslim heads was 61 percent, compared to 47 percent among families in general, nationwide.

As first reported in BusinessWorld on Sept. 24, the national percentage of the self-rated poor fell from 51 in May to 47 in August. For Muslim families in particular, special tabulations show that the percentage of the self-rated poor fell from a massive 78 in May to 61 in August. Thus, Muslim families, though poorer, shared in the recent decline in poverty.

Self-rated food-poverty (families rating their food as poor or  mahirap) also declined over the last two quarters. For families in general, the decline was from 39 percent in May to 35 percent in August. For Muslim families in particular, tabulations show that the decline was from 76 percent in May to 55 percent in August.  Thus, Muslim families also shared in the recent decline in food-poverty.

Hunger is also more extensive among Muslims. As first reported last Sept. 28 in BusinessWorld, 21.0 percent of families nationwide experienced involuntary hunger at least once in the past three months, according to the SWS August survey.  We know that the hunger is involuntary, since the survey question qualifies it as due to not having anything to eat.

This was an increase from the 18.4 percent hunger rate in May. The rise in hunger, despite the fall in poverty, is due to an increase in the proportion hungry among the poor; in short, the poor were fewer, but hungrier, in August compared to May.  The SWS surveys being a quarterly series, they reveal the hunger proportion of the poor to be variable, and not constant, in the short run.

The national hunger rate in August consisted of 18.0 percent in moderate hunger (meaning, experiencing it once or else a few times) and 3.0 percent in severe hunger (meaning, experiencing it either often or always). Compared to May, moderate hunger had risen from 13.7 percent, but severe hunger had fallen from 4.8 percent.

Among Muslim families in particular, tabulations of the August survey show that those that experienced hunger were 31.6 percent, consisting of 25.3 percent in moderate hunger, and 6.3 percent in severe hunger.

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Yet hunger fell among Muslims, between May and August. Tabulations of the May survey show that, among Muslim families, those that experienced hunger were 44.3 percent, consisting of 31.0 percent in moderate hunger, and 13.3 percent in severe hunger.

This means that severe hunger fell among both Muslims and non-Muslims, between May and August.  Moderate hunger, on the other hand, fell among Muslims, but rose among non-Muslims. Thus, the sum of moderate and severe hunger fell among Muslims. The survey statistics lead us to realize that there are times when community conditions move oppositely from national conditions.

Statistical visibility matters. Groups without data are statistically invisible. Just as there are statistics pertaining specifically to women, so too can there be statistics pertaining specifically to the Bangsamoro. But statistical data do not grow in the wild on trees, awaiting harvest; they need nurturing, in orchards.  Statistical agencies, both public and private, must gear up for this challenge. Social Weather Stations will include the Bangsamoro in its survey agenda. The Bangsamoro should have its own independent research institutes.

Statistics is a branch of the sciences, and social survey research is one of its applications.  They assist in peaceful advocacy for the wellbeing of a social group, by raising public consciousness about it.  They are not branches of public relations or of fiction-writing. The more the practitioners of statistics about the Bangsamoro, the clearer will be the truth about its people.

* * *

Contact SWS: www.sws.org.ph or [email protected] Ms. Josefina Mar of SWS did the tabulations on Muslims, published here for the first time.

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TAGS: Bangsamoro, Benigno Aquino III, framework agreement on Mindanao peace process, Mahar Mangahas
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