QUEZON CITY, Philippines – While surveys left and right reveal how distrusted Chief Justice Renato Corona is, one poll seems to suggest his alma mater is not judging him just yet.
A survey conducted among Ateneo de Manila University undergraduates reveals 39% of Ateneans are still undecided on whether they still trust Corona “based on what (they’ve) seen of the trial so far.”
One of the 5 universities surveyed by the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila is in striking contrast with the rest of the polled student population.
The 4 other universities demonstrated high distrust of Corona: De la Salle (69.3%); University of the East (77%); and Tarlac State University (75.4%).
The Ateneo de Davao University does not also share the perception of its counterpart in Manila, with 78% of respondents there saying they no longer trust Corona.
But Coco Navarro, incoming president of The Ateneo Assembly said, “Indecision should be an optimal result because if we are truly to be democratic, it is only fair to hear both the prosecution and the defense before forming a stand.”
It was Ateneo Assembly, a political science organization based in Ateneo de Manila, which tapped the Ateneo Stastistics Circle to conduct the survey.
Even if there is no official Ateneo position on the impeachment trial of the Chief justice, the survey reflects the mood of the academic community: cautious and sober, but also disappointed with the embattled Ateneo alumnus.
Online and offline, the battle lines over the Corona trial is in fact being drawn in Ateneo.
Overall, the survey among students still echoes the one recently conducted by Pulse Asia that revealed Corona as the “least trusted” top government official.
But others feel the surveys are preconditioning the public for a possible conviction.
On March 25, 2012, a day before the SCAP survey was released, Senator-judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago lambasted Pulse Asia for its recent survey, accusing it as ” a clear effort to manipulate the results of the impeachment trial.”
But students leaders who initiated the survey among its ranks stand their ground.
“We are not scared of Senator Santiago. It’s our right to conduct the survey. We are not influencing senator-judges. To say that surveys influence the trial is an insult to senator-judges,” asserted SCAP national secretary general Gibby Gorres.
Reacting to media queries about the credibility and motive of the survey, Gorres stressed “it was conducted in the interest of transparency.”
“We reiterate our call to the Chief Justice to open his dollar accounts, take a leave of absence and testify before the impeachment court. We believe if he will continue to hide behind legal technicalities, those who are undecided will eventually shift to the anti-Corona camp. This could be a potential ‘game changer’,” Gorres said.
Together with administration allies like Akbayan Partylist, SCAP earlier called for Corona “to take a voluntary leave of office from his functions as the Chief Justice.”
Level of confidence
The surveys in 5 universities, participated in by at least 2000 student respondents between March 11-25, 2011 using face-to-face and online interviews, did not breach the 10% acceptable error margin, assured Gorres.
The Ateneo survey has a 4.2 % error margin at the 95% confidence level. Among researchers and pollsters, 5% is a common choice for margin of error.
Gorres emphasized that the survey was not conducted for strictly academic purposes but to get the pulse and sentiment of the students.
SCAP provided the template of the survey that aimed at measuring the level of interest in the trial and assessing the trust level for Corona and whether he should still remain as the Chief justice.
But some of its partner organizations like The Ateneo Assembly added variables like the “most pertinent ground for impeaching Corona.”
At least 54% of Ateneo respondents ranked “graft and corruption” as the most important issue behind the impeachment trial. – Rappler.com