• The administration’s report card

    Social Climate By Mahar Mangahas
    (The Philippine Daily Inquirer) August 16, 2014
     

    The SWS release last Monday,  “Second Quarter 2014 Social Weather Survey: Net satisfaction with National Administration falls to ‘Moderate’ +29,” referred to the administration—abbreviated here as “admin”—of President Noynoy Aquino, not to him personally. The President’s personal net rating was net +25 from the same survey of June 27-30, 2014, as reported on

    July 14.  (See “Transition in P-Noy’s rating,” Opinion, 7/19/2014. “Net rating” means the percentage satisfied minus the percentage dissatisfied.)

    SWS grades the admin’s rating as Moderate since it missed the +30 lower bound for the grade of Good. It is the lowest rating of the admin so far. It consists of Moderate scores of +16 and +26 in the National Capital Region and the Balance of Luzon respectively, and Good scores of +41 and +34 in the Visayas and Mindanao, respectively.  The first two areas outweigh the latter two in any national average.

    The gravity of the fall in the national rating depends on the light one likes to put on it. A myopic person may see it as 16 points below the previous rating of +45 in March 2014. A generous person may see it as 15 points below the old low of +44 in March 2012. A stingy person may take the direst perspective and see it as 37 points below the record high +66 (Very Good) in June 2013.

    The history of the ratings. My personal preference is to use maximum light—i.e., all the data ever since this item was first polled, in February 1989. Past data are in each new SWS report, on www.sws.org.ph.

    The new rating is higher than: (a) all the eight ratings of the Cory Aquino admin for 1989-92; (b) 20 of the 24 ratings of the admin of Fidel Ramos (except for scores of +30 to +32 in September 1992, December 1992, July 1993, and July 1997); (c) eight of the ten ratings of the short admin of Joseph Estrada (except for a +36 in November 1998 and a +34 in March 1999); and (d) all of the 35 ratings of the long admin of Gloria Arroyo.

    The new record low rating under P-Noy is far better than the worst ratings under previous presidents: -10 (Poor) under Cory in November 1990, -18 (Poor) under Ramos in October 1995, -8 (Neutral) under Estrada in December 1999, and -45 (Bad) under Arroyo in March 2010.

    The new 16-point fall in the P-Noy admin’s rating is not its steepest over two successive surveys, which was 18 points from November 2010 to March 2011. In previous admins, the steepest falls were: 27 points under Cory, from +17 to -10 over April to November 1990; 24 points under Ramos, from +6 to -18 over June to October 1995; 26 points under Estrada, from +28 to +2 over June to October 1999; 29 points under Arroyo, from +23 to -6 over June to September 2003.

    Those speculating about future ratings of the P-Noy admin should be aware of what happened after the previous admins hit their respective low points.  The Cory admin got back up to +1 in November 1991, and ended at -5 in April 1992. From its -18 in October 1995, the Ramos admin recovered to a Good +31 in June 1997, and closed at +9 in March 1998. From its -8 in December 1999, the Estrada admin reached a Moderate +24 in July 2000, but ended at +2 in December 2000. The all-time low, -45 under Arroyo, was where her admin ended.

    Given the full history of data, I dismiss terms like “plunging” and “free fall” for this week’s SWS report as mere hype.

    The report card has many subjects. Each Social Weather Survey asks people for their satisfaction, not only with the current admin’s general performance, but also with its specific performance, in many subjects.  Most of the subjects are maintained each quarter, to enable monitoring over time.

    The admin’s report card for June 2014 has 17 subjects.  Six subjects are graded Good (+30 to +49): Protecting the environment (+46), Providing an adequate supply of electricity (+45), Defending the country’s territorial rights (+43), Promoting the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (+42), Foreign relations (+41), and Helping the poor (+39).

    Seven subjects are graded Moderate (+10 to +29): Reconciling with Muslim rebels (+22), Providing jobs (+20), Reconciling with communist rebels (+17), Fighting terrorism (+13), Fighting crime (+13), Collecting taxes (+13), and Eradicating graft and corruption (+12). Thus, 13 of the 17 subjects have favorable grades.

    One subject is graded Neutral (-9 to +9): Fighting hunger (-9).  Two subjects are Poor (-29 to -10): Fighting inflation (-18) and Ensuring that oil companies don’t take advantage of oil prices (-19).  One is Bad (-49 to -30): Resolving the Maguindanao massacre case with justice (-44).

    Unlike a school report card, the Moderate +29 grade of the general performance of the admin is not an average of the grades in individual subjects, but an item in itself.  Yet the distribution of grades shows that Moderate is a reasonable summary of the card.

    Of the 17 subjects graded in June 2014, the 14 that were also graded in March 2014 all got lower scores in June. There were seven cases of double-digit drops: Fighting inflation, down 22; Reconciling with communist rebels, down 17; Helping the poor, Reconciling with Muslim rebels, Fighting hunger, and Ensuring that oil companies don’t take advantage of oil prices, all down 16; and Providing jobs, down 10.   Analysts should adjust their theories according to the data, rather than select the data to suit their theories.

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    My last column, “Inflation, enemy of poverty,” should have been titled “Inflation, enemy of the poor” instead—my mistake!

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