Contentment despite complaints | Inquirer Opinion
Social Climate

Contentment despite complaints

/ 12:18 AM October 10, 2015

However shrill or persistent may be the complaints about the government that currently appear in the mass media, not to mention Facebook, the full 30-year record of SWS survey data shows that Filipinos are relatively contented with the performance of their present top officials, as well as with the Supreme Court and the Cabinet.

The indicator used here is Net Satisfaction, the percentage satisfied minus the percentage dissatisfied with the performance of an official or institution. Positive (+) numbers show that the contented dominate; negative (-) numbers show that the discontented dominate.

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The SWS surveys of opinions of Filipino adults were semiannual in 1986-91, and then quarterly since 1992. Instead of taking, myopically, only the very recent past, let us compare the average ratings of the officials in the current government with the average ratings of all previous occupants of the same positions, ever since the surveys began.

The average net satisfaction with Noynoy Aquino is, by far, the best among all presidents in the past 30 years. The average net satisfaction rating of P-Noy, from 2010 to 2015 so far, is +47, which SWS calls Good (from +30 to +49). It is the simple average of all his scores, from the start at +60, to a high +67, a low +11, and the latest +41. All averages cited here can be computed from the time-series tables in the SWS reports.

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The average net score of President Corazon Aquino in 1986-92 was +35. It started at +53, had a high +72, and ended at a low +7. SWS uses the terms Very Good for +50 to +69, Excellent for +70 and up, and Neutral for -9 to +9.

The average score of President Fidel Ramos in 1992-98 was +38. It includes a starting +66, a high +69, a low +1, and a final +19 (called Moderate, from +10 to +29), the best ending so far.

The average of President Joseph Estrada in 1998-2000 was +33. It started at +60, was as high as +67 and as low as +5, and ended at +9.

The average of President Gloria Arroyo in 2001-10 was only -7. It started at +24, had a high +30, a low -53, and a final -17. (SWS uses Poor for -10 to -29 and Very Bad for -50 to -69.) The Arroyo presidency was clearly a time of very great public discontent.

The average net satisfaction with Jejomar Binay matches those of the most popular vice presidents, Estrada and Arroyo, in the past 30 years. The average of Vice President Binay, over 2010 to 2015 so far, is +61. Calling it “higher than P-Noy” is an invalid comparison. It started at +58, had a high +76, a low +31, and a final +33.

The average of Vice President Salvador Laurel was only +3, the worst of all VPs. It started at a high +44 and ended at a low -10.

The average of Estrada as VP was +61— “higher than President Ramos.” It started at +78, had a high +87, a low +38, and a final +41. It was +44 in September 1997, as close to the next election as we are now. VP Binay now is roughly as popular as VP Estrada was then.

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The average of Arroyo as VP was +64—“higher than President Estrada.” It started at +73, went as high as +81, but ended at a low -4 in December 2000.

The average of VP Teofisto Guingona in 2001-04 was +11. The average of VP Noli de Castro was +33—“higher than President Arroyo.” It had a +39 start, a high +47, a low +14, and a final +23.

The average net satisfaction with Frank Drilon as Senate president (2013-15) is +30, which is Good. While not begrudging SP Drilon his recent pleasure with a September 2015 rating (+42) above P-Noy (+41) and VP Binay (+33), I must repeat that SWS does not compare persons in different posts.

Actually, there were many previous Senate presidents with higher averages: Jovito Salonga, +44; Neptali Gonzales, +41 in 1992, +38 in 1995-96, and +43 in 1998; Edgardo Angara, +48; Ernesto Maceda, +44; Marcelo Fernan, +52; Blas Ople, +34; Drilon himself, +48 in 2000; Manny Villar, +49; and Juan Ponce Enrile, +34. The cases of lower averages were Aquilino Pimentel Jr., +22, and Drilon himself, +27 in 2001-06. In any case, any clearly positive score shows a prevalence of contentment with his performance.

The average net satisfaction with Sonny Belmonte (2010-15) is +11, much above that of the previous three Speakers of the House. Although the average score of Speaker Belmonte is only Moderate, it is above those of Arnulfo Fuentebella, -4; Jose de Venecia, +4 in 2001-09; and Prospero Nograles, -10. The speakers with higher averages were Ramon Mitra, +23; De Venecia, +31 in 1992-98; and Manny Villar, +31.

The average net satisfaction scores of the Supreme Court and the Cabinet are higher now than under all previous administrations. From September 2010 to the present, the average score of the Supreme Court is +31. Starting December 2012—i.e., ever since Maria Lourdes Sereno became chief justice—it is +33. The past averages of the high court were +15 in Cory Aquino’s time, +21 in Ramos’ time, +26 in Estrada’s time, and only +14 in Arroyo’s time.

In the P-Noy administration thus far, the average net satisfaction with the Cabinet is +21. On the other hand, the past averages of the Cabinet were -11 under Cory Aquino, +9 under Ramos, +12 under Estrada, and -1 under Arroyo.

Now, if satisfaction with governance has risen, then why have complaints risen, too? I think that complaining means that people still want much change—for the better, of course, not just for the sake of change. I believe people have their own memory of governance, and don’t want changes that blindly try to restore the past.

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