THE Social Weather Stations continues to try our patience and credulity.
The shamelessness and commercialism of public opinion polling in our country is showing even at this time when the elections are already over.
This is the conclusion we were impelled to reach as we beheld over the weekend a report from the SWS. It said it conducted a trust survey last month, which showed President-elect Rodrigo Duterte with an anemic trust rating of 26 percent, while Vice President-elect Leni Robredo enjoyed a heart-stopping trust rating of 45 percent.
Our quizzical reaction to this survey mirrored the reaction of everyone else. Why on earth would Ms. Robredo, who barely won, enjoy a higher trust rating than Duterte, who has just been elected to the presidency via a landslide?
Why is she rated so high when her electoral victory is under question by so many on so many fronts?
The gullibility of the public with respect to this SWS survey is being taxed to the limit when we consider that the survey was actually conducted on May 1 – 3, a full week before the elections on May 9.
Why did SWS conduct a trust survey at that point, why not a pre-election preferential poll?
Was the reason to restrain Duterte’s inevitable victory in the elections and to condition the public to accept Robredo’s victory at the polls?
We would understand if SWS were conducting a pre-election preferential survey on May 1 – 3. What we cannot comprehend is why SWS conducted a trust survey during that period? We simply do not get the point. And we also do not understand why we are being regaled with the survey results, one month after the election for a sinister motive.
The timing of the survey and the timing of the survey results’ release indicate the dirty hands of SWS.
They leave the impression that SWS’ main purpose is to moderate public response to Mr.Duterte’s victory, and to inflate public acceptance of a Robredo victory. And that this survey may actually have been commissioned by the Aquino administration in advance of an electoral result, which it expected.
In its explanatory note on the survey, SWS said that the survey used face-to-face interviews with 4,500 respondents nationwide, an unusually high number of respondents for a local survey.
SWS also said that the survey questions were non-commissioned, and were included on SWS’ own initiative and released as a public service.
Public service? How is the Filipino public served by this kind of opinion polling, which few people will understand or believe?
In our view, this trust survey should be more fittingly classified as propaganda. So what is SWS propagandizing? And for whom did SWS really undertake this survey?
In announcing its surveys, SWS invariably declares that BusinessWorld has first crack in publicizing the results. Does this mean that BW pays for the surveys? Yet the business newspaper has never once publicly stated that it commissions the SWS opinion polling?
Finally, we take issue with the decision of SWS to contrast the trust ratings of Duterte and Robredo, as though one were more trusted than the other. This too is totally absurd, considering that the survey was conducted on May 1 – 3. So what if Robredo was more trusted during that time than Mayor Duterte?
All this strains public credulity, and it is no more credible than the SWS practice of conducting a satisfaction survey on President Aquino, instead of the universal practice of measuring public approval of sitting Presidents and Prime Ministers. It perennially reports high satisfaction ratings for Aquino, even when the nation is choking on his presidency.