Students stand by poll: We’re not afraid of Miriam Santiago
Most students in four universities distrust impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona and believe he is “not fit to remain in his position,” a survey conducted by a student group showed.
The Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP) on Monday released the results of its survey that were meant to gauge the students’ interest in and appreciation of the impeachment proceedings against Corona.
Conducted in five universities nationwide albeit on different days this month, the survey came after Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s strong criticism of Corona-related surveys among university students.
“We are not afraid of the senator because it is our right to conduct a survey,” said SCAP national secretary general Gibby Gorres.
Saying surveys on Corona were a “slap on the face” of senator-judges, Santiago on Monday warned that those behind the surveys could be cited for indirect contempt by the impeachment court when the trial resumes on May 7.
“Don’t push the envelope too far because I might react because to me, this is really sacrilege,” she said in a phone patch interview with reporters.
Santiago said surveys were “very destructive.” Releasing surveys in the middle of a trial was a “blatant attempt to influence the mind of the judge,” she said.
Reacting to Santiago’s statement that such surveys may violate the “sub judice” rule, Gorres said the exercise was protected by the constitutional provision of freedom of expression.
“The Supreme Court sides with surveys. This is not covered by the sub judice rule because we are not parties to the case,” he said.
The student alliance presented its findings at a press conference on Monday as the impeachment hearings at the Senate took a break until after the Holy Week.
Some 2,010 students from Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU), De La Salle University (DLSU), Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU), University of the East (UE) and Tarlac State University (TSU) were surveyed this past month.
The majority of respondents in four schools showed distrust for Corona at 78.3 percent in AdDU, 77 percent in UE, 75.4 percent in TSU and 69.3 percent in DLSU.
Forty-one percent of respondents in AdMU said they did not trust the Chief Justice while 21 percent trusted him and the remaining 39 percent were undecided.
The survey also showed that most of the students said Corona was not fit to remain in his position.
“The survey indicated that a majority, if not a plurality, of the students held this view with AdMU at 45 percent, DLSU at 63 percent, UE at 56.4 percent, TSU at 76.8 percent and AdDU at 76.7 percent.”
The polls were conducted at AdMU from March 11 to 15, at DLSU and AdDU from March 22 to 25, at TSU from March 13 to 14 and at UE from March 13 to 15.
While the SCAP provided the participating school organizations with a survey template, the student groups were allowed to modify some questions according to their interest.
Questions common to all schools were about Corona’s trust rating, the students’ interest in the impeachment trial and whether they think he should remain as Chief Justice, Gorres said.
SCAP deputy spokesperon Kristine Baguio noted that most of the students were following the impeachment proceedings “either occasionally or on a regular basis.”
“Fifty-seven percent, 69 percent and 84.3 percent of AdMU, DLSU and AdDU [respondents] said they occasionally followed the trial while 19 percent, 19 percent and 8 percent [respectively] said they were following it regularly,” she added.
Baguio said the survey was also aimed at measuring the trust that Corona had among students.
“We have to consider the impact that the evidence presented in the impeachment trial had on the trust of the youth, especially because the trial is also a political process in which the youth have a stake,” she said.
Gorres said the survey conducted was patterned after the survey of the University of the Philippines Paralegal Society done in February which said 74 percent distrusted Corona. With a report from Christian V. Esguerra
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