There are lingering unresolved doubts from 2018 that inevitably carried over to the New Year. One that came to mind rather prominently is the first bone I would like to pick on as 2019 begins to roll along: the Presidential performance satisfaction survey. It says: “Very Good.” Really?
Is there not a very evident disconnect that is staring us in the face? Alongside, on the other hand, should we not just allow Malacanang the possibility that they may be deluding themselves by relying and believing in a political nostrum, traceable to being the desired effect of their own machinations? In which happy case, why not just allow them to wallow in self-fulfilling delusion?
The disconnect is indeed patent because the survey’s conclusion attempts to obliterate, or in the least obfuscate, the undeniably widespread stark reality of poverty, crime and the police, inflation, human rights abuses, health, terrorism and corruption that has all worsened since June 30, more than two years ago.
For how can a gutter foul-mouth with a vile contempt for women and priests, and the church and its teachings; a sloppy and sloven appearance; literally sleeping on the job; an admitted inability to deliver on campaign commitments; etc. etc. can ever be regarded as acceptable performance?
To doubt is to be simply prudent. Our exercise in prudence is understandably reasonable. Let us, therefore, reason this out.
From the very outset of our discourse, let me be clear. There is absolutely no thought, much less intent, at impugning the professional integrity of the survey takers nor their analysts. Neither the mathematical tools they employ. Instead, I would like focus on the ‘universe’ of the responding participants. The population, not the census taker! Are they credible?
Survey results are true reflections of the answers responsive to the questions asked. Regardless of whether the questions were actually understood or not! The survey is intended to capture a ‘snap shot’ of prevailing opinion at that particular moment when the answers responded to questions fielded.
What were the questions? How were they constructed? Who or what are the participants? How were they chosen? How random and how randomly representative? Is such choice an exclusive task of the survey conductor, or was that a contracted out segment of the process? Are the sources of such answers credible? Were they telling the truth? Were they capable of telling the truth?
I would like to focus on the survey participants, the supposedly 1,400. In an effort to understand and appreciate the value and veracity of Malacanang’s cause for jubilation, please consider the following:
One. The matter of ignorance. Let us recall what “Ipsos Perils of Perception” was all about. It was an international survey undertaken by “Ipsos,” a global research group headquartered in Paris, taken in late 1987 and announced before that year ended. It revealed that Filipinos are the “least accurate,” “most ignorant” of national issues that affect them! The Philippines was third from the bottom in a field of 38 countries, just above South Africa and Brazil. And yet, the conclusion further reveals, Filipinos are “the most confident” of their answers! The Ipsos project had 500 respondents, ages 16 to 64. Not really dissimilar to Malacanang’s “claim to fame,” as to survey content.
Two. “Hiya” is a matter of “face,” pride. Fibbing to save face, mainly yours, not mine! A very common observation of foreigners is that the Filipino possesses a propensity for fibbing. Little white lies, as it were. Its minutest example would be the very facile, easy-way-out response, to almost anything: “Ewan ko,” or “Ambot!” (“I do not know,” in Filipino and in Binisaya, respectively.) I no longer recall the name of the sociologist/anthropologist (may have been Jocano or Andres) who explained that the Filipino habit of lying or fibbing cannot really be extricated from an innate desire to please or to avoid displeasing, by triggering an answer that is almost instantaneously psychically calculated not to offend, to be pleasant or to be the least disagreeable.
Three. Fear. Fear of violence and vengeance. Has it permeated into the mass subconscious? With a much ballyhooed penchant for mayhem and murder, with actual instances owned and described to boot, it is not surprising that a survey responder would rather err on the not unpleasant side! ‘Nahintakutan’ is a Filipino term which means ‘caused or stimulated to become afraid!’ Might it be a Duterte calculation to establish himself as one to be feared? Scare tactics! After all, he has read Machiavelli. It is working, is it not?
Ask the Makati Business Club. Ask the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Ask the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
Four. The Malacanang’s mercenary ‘trolletariat’ has been effective with their nefarious intent. No different from the campaign strategy that successfully delivered the Presidency.The manufactured rage. The calculated exaggeration. The untruth! Thus, it can only mean that Malacanang’s echo chamber will continue expending precious people’s tax money, encouraged to hoodwink and promote more ignorance among the hapless masses. Can anyone still doubt that the national treasury is the source of lucrative pecuniary rewards for their merchants of mendacity?
Five. An evil alchemy comprising all of the above, albeit in varying gradations.
And so, there you have it. What can we, therefore, expect? What can an aggrieved and abused democratic freedom do?
Having blared self-congratulatory braggadocios, convinced that mercenary obscurantism has delivered their desired dividends -- the survey’s “Very Good performance” report card---we can only expect more of the same from Malacanang. There will never be any attempt at truth, transparency and a willingness to display accountability seriously and sincerely. The fooling of the masses will continue unabatingly.
Once more, Ninoy Aquino’s favorite Archibald Macleish quotation: “How shall freedom be defended? By truth when it is attacked by lies…”
The Duterte interregnum of the untruth must come to an end. Gladiators for truth and conscience must unsheathe! Now! With vigor and compassion, all legitimate media in the lead.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tomas 'Buddy' Gomez III began his professional media career in ABS-CBN's (previously Chronicle Broadcasting Network) DZQL-Radio Reloj in 1957, after which he spent 25 years with the Ayala Group.
In 1986, the then Pres. Cory Aquino appointed him Consul General to Hawaii and later served as her Press Secretary.
During the Ramos administration, he was chairman and president of state-owned IBC-13 Network.
After government service, he became an ‘OFW’ in the U.S., working as front-desk clerk and then assistant general manager of a hotel. He also worked as a furniture and antique restoration specialist.
He is now retired and lives in San Antonio, Texas.
His e-mail is: [email protected]
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.