SWS: Only 2 of 5 Filipinos believe they can speak freely vs Duterte
MANILA, Philippines — Almost half of Filipinos find it “dangerous” to publicize anything critical of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, and only two of five believe they can speak freely against him, according to the results of the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey.
Conducted from September 12-16, the poll found that 45 percent of the respondents agree with the statement “it is dangerous to print or broadcast anything critical of the administration, even if it is the truth.” Nineteen percent disagree, and 29 percent are undecided.
From the findings, the net agreement score (agree minus disagree) is a “moderate” +26, up by six points from the score recorded in June.
The survey results were released a week after the announcement that journalists Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitri Muratov of Russia had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression,” and more than a year since the House of Representatives voted not to renew the franchise of the ABS-CBN network, which had angered the President.
SWS conducted face-to-face interviews with 1,200 adults. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent for national percentages, and plus or minus 6 percent for Metro Manila, the Visayas, Mindanao, and Luzon outside Metro Manila.
Highest in Mindanao
Across areas, “net danger” in publishing things critical of the administration increased in all areas except Metro Manila.
It jumped the highest in Mindanao (from +12 to +23), followed by the Visayas (from +22 to +31), and Luzon outside Metro Manila (+21 to +28). In Metro Manila, it dipped from +28 to +17.
SWS classifies the net agreement rating of +50 and above as “very strong,” +30 to +49 “strong,” +10 to +29 as “moderate,” +9 to -9 as “neutral,” -10 to -29 “poor,” -30 to -49 “weak,” and -50 and below “very weak.”
The survey also found that 42 percent of Filipinos agree with the statement “I can say anything I want, openly and without fear, even if it is against President Duterte.” Twenty-two percent disagree, and 28 percent are undecided.
The net agreement score is a “moderate” +20, a slight increase from the “moderate” +18 recorded in June.
Duterte’s latest scores improved from his “neutral” +5 score in May—the lowest in the last 36 years when the dictator Ferdinand Marcos got a record-low net agreement score of a “neutral” +3 in July 1985, SWS said.
In the past administrations, net agreement on “personal freedom of speech” reached an all-time high of a “very strong” +63 and averaged +33 during Corazon Aquino’s term, according to SWS.
It then averaged +38 for Fidel V. Ramos, +41 for Joseph Estrada, +34 for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and +32 for Benigno Aquino III.
Net personal freedom to speak against Duterte rose in Metro Manila (+22 to +30) and Luzon outside Metro Manila (+15 to +19). It fell in the Visayas (+24 to +19) and stayed at +15 in Mindanao. —REPORTS FROM Inquirer Research
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