POSTSCRIPT / April 9, 2000 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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85% of readers doubt positive rating of Erap

MAYBE we were asking the obvious, as reader Ernie Cordero of pharma.Novartis said. So we got what looked like an obviously negative conclusion on the latest Malacañang survey claiming that President Estrada’s net approval rating has bounced back to positive 5 percent.

Some 85 percent of the early respondents to an ongoing POSTSCRIPT survey said that the Palace positive report on its latest survey was just concocted or dressed up to shore up the sagging public support of President Estrada.

In our own survey, we asked POSTSCRIPT readers if they think that the survey report on the President’s 5-percent net approval rating was “Type I” (for client’s Internal/inside use only) or “Type O” (put together for Outsideor public consumption only).

Almost nine out of every 10 readers (85 percent) said it was Type O. They gave their reasons for saying so.

* * *

THE questions we posed to POSTSCRIPT readers were: (1) Is the latest survey report showing a 5-percent net approval rating for President Estrada a “Type I” or a “Type O” report? (2) Why do you think so?

Our poll of readers was picked up and echoed in some websites (e.g., Pacific Internet forum), thereby helping disseminate the question and improving response. Still, we’re not foisting our findings as representative of the sentiment of the national population.

The sector being asked to give its opinion on whether the Palace survey report was Type I or Type O is limited to POSTSCRIPT readers. Obviously, those with Internet/email access are in a better position to respond faster.

We are still collating responses sent by postal mail or deposited directly in our pigeonhole at The STAR base in Port Area. These delayed responses are not reflected here, but will be included in the next report.

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THE first reader to respond was Jesse Fernandez of J. H. Fernandez Services in Carmichael, California. He said the Palace survey report was Type O, noting that:

“It was an obvious and desperate move to stem the increasing tide of protest by the people, considering that it immediately followed the negative ratings of the Erap administration’s own telephone surveys and the Asiaweek story.”

Fernandez’s response came at 11:35 p.m. of Wednesday (April 5), several hours before Philippine readers would see their copy of The STAR the next morning. While we in Manila were still asleep, he was obviously already reading our paper’s Online edition for the next day!

He was one of several foreign-based readers (32 percent of respondents) who used the fast facilities of the Internet to read The STAR and submit their responses.

* * *

ROY Calleja, 27, another US-based Pinoy working as computer programmer, followed at 2:32 a.m. Thursday with the first response saying the Malacañang’s report was “Type I.”

His explanation: “Sa mga nangyayari ngayon(base sa diaryo), eh talagang malala na, dismayado na ang mga tao sa pamahalaan ni Erap. Kabi-kabila ang corruption at mga palpak na aksyon. Binoto natin, pagtiisan natin!”

Rounding off the first three responses was JDL919 using an aol (AmericaOnLine) address, with a Type O vote and this comment: “It’s just plain statistically impossible going from -13, -32 percent to +5 percent. That’s about a 100-degree turn-around and then some in a matter of a few weeks. It reeks of lutong makaw.”

By the way, the Malacañang-commissioned survey was conducted by the Social Weather Stations covering the first quarter of 2000. The -13 percent approval rating mentioned above was reported in February, while the –32 percent was in March.

Its report of a 5-percent net approval rating for the first quarter repeated the rating reported in the last quarter of 1999, making a six-month leveling off at 5 percent.

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THE distinction between what we conveniently called “Type I” and “Type O” survey reports stemmed from the open secret that in the same way that some businesses have two books of account – one for internal use only and another for showing to City Hall and tax agents — there are sometimes two reports prepared from a commissioned opinion survey.

Type I, which is purely for internal use, gives the client the real score. Type O, which is for public consumption, is dressed up to achieve some calculated effects that the client wants in his public presentation of the supposed survey results.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, meanwhile, has confirmed that taxpayers are paying for these expensive surveys being commissioned by Malacañang for whatever purpose.

Readers can still rush their responses to our question: Is the latest Palace survey report claiming a 5-percentr net approval rating for President Estrada a “Type I” or a “Type O” report?

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OTHER aspects of the POSTSCRIPT survey so far:

  • Type O got 85 percent; Type I, 12 percent. The rest (3 percent) did not give a categorical choice, but merely made comments.
  • Local respondents comprised 68 percent; foreign-based respondents, 32 percent, most of them in the US.
  • Males dominated the poll, 67 percent; females, 33 percent.
  • The age sectors with the most number of respondents were 26 — 30 and 36 — 40 years old (both garnering 20 percent). Next lower age brackets were 31 — 35 and 41 — 45 years old (both 11 percent). Age brackets 46 — 50, 51 — 55, and 56 — 60 had the same 8 percent of respondents.

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SAMPLES of the comments of the early respondents:

Dr. Edgardo F. Razon, 37, practicing pediatrician, Parañaque: “One need not be an Einstein to figure out that this is a Type O report.”

Nene Gerochi, Piscataway, New Jersey: “The latest survey is Type 0. Just recently there were two SWS reports of negative 13 and negative 32 percent in Metro Manila which I believed to be reliable. I don’t think that such performance level will all of a sudden jump to positive 5 percent. Even in remote places in Mindanao people know how Erap has mismanaged the nation’s political and economic needs (I was on a vacation tour to the Visayas and Mindanao last month). I found that majority, even in the rural area, are well informed. This is just a Malacañang psychological propaganda to counter the truth. Such +5 percent rating is statistically improbable.”

Marielou Dimapilis, 50, male (sic), Pasay: “My answer is Type I, because indicators show that there is no mass discontent. The economy is still making good (except for stocks anomaly), the military is not in disarray, the masses are apparently satisfied, the democratic/constitutional process of changing leaders is very much in place, and lastly, there is no restriction to basic rights.”

* * *

Dr. Benjamin M. Abela Jr.,42, Makati Medical Center: “It’s Type O. I’m disappointed with the SWS for releasing such a result. In my Rotary Club, we had an SWS official as guest speaker. She candidly admitted that the SWS will sometimes tell ‘white lies’ about their surveys whenever they feel the issue is sensitive and may affect national security. I think this is one case in point. On the other hand, SWS may have released the results stressing that Erap has a miserable negative rating in the A, B, and C classes, but media decided to headline a less damaging ‘white lie’ result. Erap has more faux pas this last quarter compared to December 1999 (which was already a lot for a president, mind you) as far as the public perception is concerned. It is hard to believe that Erap’s grade was maintained when most people see him as an utter failure.”

Vic Octaviano, 38, marketing manager, Makati: “The report released by the poll survey company was Type O. When the news broke out on TV, the head of the survey company was uneasy and could not look straight from the eye as if he was covering/hiding something. I work as marketing manager and I’m aware of different surveys conducted by different agencies and surprisingly note that the same 5 percent approval rating can be retained with all those negative feedbacks.”

* * *

MARIE Therese Castillo using a yahoo address: “Type I. I guess the Malacañang-based survey concentrated on the Classes D & E and a few from C and never from A & B. The A & B hate the President because they look highly of themselves. They feel more educated, more intelligent than he. That’s why if you want a negative approval rating for Erap, go to Classes A & B.”

(We were not supposed to accept responses from yahoo and hotmail, but we made an exception of this. But this will not set a precedent. — fdp)

CBB, 58, San Pedro, retired OFW bank employee in Saudi Arabia: “This is Type O. The administration has been wracked more with bigger scandals and issues against it for the first quarter of this year than the last quarter of last year. How can this latest survey outcome be similar with that of last year’s quarter? Is this another of the administration’s patented lies?”

Enrico Florencio using address: “It’s Type O. An obvious administration propaganda to negate the negative trend of Erap’s popularity. Unbelievable rise (from -32 to +5 percent) in so short period of time. Not even Einstein or the hyperbola theorem can explain the sudden rise.”

MGL using a mydestiny address: “Type O. When I read in the papers where the President said ‘just wait and see’ regarding his declining rating, I got suspicious. I got the feeling that Malacañang got something cooking. Then here it is — the President got a +5 rating. I think only the gullible would believe it. I guess Malacañang is really at their wits’ end at the ratings Erap has been getting, that’s why they thought up of releasing this latest survey.”

We’ll have more responses and an updated score on Tuesday. Meanwhile, rush those responses so they can be counted!

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of April 9, 2000)

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