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MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Friday, December 6, tried to discredit a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showing that most Filipinos are worried about the influx of foreign Chinese workers, claiming that the poll body slanted its questions.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement that it was no wonder 70% of Filipinos expressed this worry in the survey held in late September, because of how SWS worded one of the poll’s most important questions.
“We note that the survey question has been slantly phrased as: ‘Gaano po kayo nababahala sa pagdami ng dayuhang Intsik na nagtratrabaho sa Pilipinas (How worried are you about the increase in foreign Chinese working in the Philippines?'” said Panelo.
“Necessarily, the response is logical and expected because the question already assumes that there exists a cause of worry,” said the spokesman.
Panelo accused President Rodrigo Duterte’s critics of using the survey to fuel “propaganda” against the Chief Executive’s approach to China.
“In the same logic, those who are opposed to the President’s pivot to China by reason of his independent foreign policy, would put political color and tweak and highlight the result of this survey question for political propaganda purposes,” said Panelo.
SWS: ‘Balanced choice of answers’
When asked about Panelo’s allegation, SWS president Mahar Mangahas noted that respondents were provided a “balanced choice of answers” to choose from.
“The question has two positive and two negative answers, to choose from. The list of answer-choices is part of the question; all the answers are printed on a card which is shown to the respondent, to choose from – that is the meaning of the guideline “SHOWCARD,” Mangahas said.
“For every question, we always offer a balanced choice of answers,” he added.
Based on the SWS methodology, respondents were shown cards bearing the following possible responses: talagang nababahala (worried a great deal), medyo nababahala (somewhat worried), medyo hindi nababahala (not too worried), and talagang hindi nababahala (not worried at all).
“Those who doubt the substantive result are welcome to design another type of question and see for themselves what answers they get,” Mangahas said.
The survey was held in September, when another SWS poll found that Filipinos’ trust in China sank from “poor” to “bad.” The Asian giant has consistently scored low compared to the Philippines’ traditional ally, the United States, with its “excellent” trust rating. This despite Duterte’s friendliness to Beijing.
Panelo also denied any tension caused by the influx of workers from China.
“Contrary to the result of this survey, the Chinese has seamlessly assimilated in the Filipino way of life for centuries, and we attribute this to the hospitable and inclusive nature of our people,” he said.
A vibrant Filipino-Chinese community thrives in the Philippines. But the SWS survey had specifically been about workers from mainland China, not Filipinos with Chinese ancestry.
No less than Duterte’s security advisers have warned that the increasing presence of mainland Chinese in the country could pose a threat to national security, given China’s aggressive espionage tactics and its ongoing spat with the Philippines over the West Philippine Sea.
These Chinese workers, who mostly work for Philippine offshore gambling operations (POGOs), admit facing racism while living in the Philippines.
Lawmakers and average citizens have fumed about how these Chinese workers were getting jobs that should be going to Filipinos, or else were driving up real estate prices to the disadvantage of locals.
The harshest action Duterte has taken against POGOs is to threaten those firms that have not been paying taxes. The President has admitted the government needs POGOs because of the large revenue they could provide, which could be used to fund his priority programs.
This is in defiance of the Chinese government which has asked the Philippines to ban POGOs since gambling is illegal in China. – Rappler.com