Opposition lawmakers find SWS ‘very good’ incredible
OPPOSITION lawmakers on Sunday cast doubt on the Social Weather Stations survey that showed President Benigno Aquino III earning a “very good” net satisfaction rating in the areas devastated by super typhoon Yolanda, while militants urged the administration to stop deluding itself.
Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz, a member of the independent minority bloc in the House, urged the SWS to explain the mechanics of the survey it conducted from Dec. 11 to 16, 2013 to determine if the result was indeed accurate and reflected the sentiments of Yolanda victims and survivors.
“How did this happen?” De La Cruz said when asked to comment on the SWS survey that gave President Aquino an approval rating of 73 percent (with a net satisfaction rating of +54) in areas battered by Yolanda.
Dela Cruz demanded an explanation from the SWS on its findings.
“It would really be best if the SWS gets to explain its findings as it is quite beyond normal expectations,” Dela Cruz said.
Dela Cruz’s observation jibed with the sentiments of residents and relief workers from the storm-battered region, who questioned the SWS findings, with one volunteer describing it as “a travesty.”
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate, another critic of the Aquino administration, also questioned the survey result, and said this would damage the credibility of SWS.
“If that survey truly reflects the sentiments of the people then why did some 12,000 Yolanda survivors from all over the devastated areas of Eastern Visayas march and protest (Saturday) in Tacloban and demand justice for the criminal negligence of the Aquino administration?” Zarate asked.
“If at all that survey was only made to deodorize the apparent incompetence and negligence of the government even up to now nearly three months after [the typhoon struck],” Zarate added.
Zarate said that he had spoken to a lot of Yolanda victims who also wondered about the SWS findings.
“They were wondering who were the survey respondents that SWS talked to,” Zarate said.
1-BAP party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello III, a member of the House opposition bloc, also expressed disbelief at the SWS findings.
“I was in Tacloban and I saw a different picture,” Bello, a former justice secretary, said.
Renato Reyes, secretary general of the militant group Bayan Muna, said the government should wake up from its delusion of high approval and trust ratings after the massive protest in Tacloban.
“The huge mobilization belies the so-called surveys saying that people are content with government efforts,” said Reyes, who joined the People Surge movement in Tacloban.
“I was able to talk to some of the protesters and they really feel that the government has not done enough. Aquino should start listening to the victims,” Reyes said.
But Aquino said in a TV interview that the survey was a reflection of the people’s trust in him and his platform of government.
“So long as people believe in me, bahala na kayo. I will just do my work,” Aquino said, adding that the media have a penchant for sensationalism.
“My test is, for as long as I can face the mirror and (tell myself) that I did everything possible, I’m already okay with that,” the President said.
Reyes, however, said the government should be more open to suggestions from the survivors, such as their demand for P40,000 in financial assistance.
This was echoed by Valenzuela Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian, who said that investing money through the survivors “makes sense” because it will jumpstart economic activity in the Yolanda-hit areas.
“And while efforts to make sure that every peso counts are commendable, this should not translate into inaction or delayed action on the part of the government,” Gatchalian said.
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, an Aquino ally, said he would take the SWS survey with a grain of salt.
“Let us look at the credibility of Pulse Asia and SWS. For me, they have no credibility to begin with,” Trillanes said.
But House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. and other administration allies in the House were quick to defend the Aquino government’s efforts to help the Yolanda victims get back on their feet, saying the SWS survey result was a reflection of such.
“Contrary to the thinking of those who were not there, the victims must have realized that the government did its best to help them,” Belmonte told the Manila Standard.
Administration Reps. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. of Cavite, Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar, Rodel Batocabe of Ako-Bicol party-list and Gus Tambunting of Paranaque City said there must be some truth behind the SWS survey result.
“Considering that the SWS is a very reliable surveying firm, its findings that that the government was given by the Yolanda victims a very satisfactory rating would be credible. A contrary opinion of one volunteer should not alter the results of the survey. Volunteers in devastated areas expect so much action from the government,” Barzaga said.
He also said it was unfair to compare the national government efforts to those of foreign governments because the Philippines was a Third World country.
Batocabe added that the SWS would not risk its reputation just to show a glowing survey result in favor of the President.
“I would like to believe that the President was able to deliver the desired results although some of his subordinates do not definitely enjoy such satisfaction (rating),” Batocabe said.
Evardone added: “It shows that the criticisms against the handling of the crisis by the Aquino administration are baseless.”
Tambunting said that the “very good” satisfaction rating of Aquino as indicated in the SWS survey was a proof that “the national government has given a lot of focus to these areas, and that the President has done his best to address the needs of those sufferings from the devastation.”
The SWS said the survey involved face-to-face interviews with 1,550 adults in Metro Manila (300), the balance of Luzon (300), the Visayas (650) and Mindanao (300). – With Joyce P. Pañares and Macon Ramos-Araneta