[OPINION | NEWSPOINT] Who to blame: the pollsters or us?

Vergel O. Santos
[OPINION | NEWSPOINT] Who to blame: the pollsters or us?
Let’s retest ourselves; let’s set aside the quirks for the moment and review how President Duterte has dealt with the larger matters of public interest


If there remains any doubt that our world has been turned upside down, the latest Social Weather Stations survey should dispel it decisively: 74% of us supposed adults not only don’t mind what Duterte has been doing to us, but actually approve of it.

Some of those who disapprove, trying to console themselves, recall that Duterte once – around the beginning of his regime, two years ago – polled 90-plus percent.

That is pathetic.

Those who disapprove constitute only 14%, not the whole 26% remaining; if the latter were the case, seeing a cup more than a quarter full might be excusable optimism. The debilitating facts are, one, 11% are fence sitters and, two, despite being revealed in the full flower of his deviancy two years and half into his 6-year term, Duterte has gained 4 percentage points since the last previous survey, which itself gave him, by polling measures, a “good rating.”

It is dreadful to think what all this says about our mental state – presuming, of course, that the problem does not lie with the pollsters. After all, the subject of our approbation is our own president, and not only does he happen to be quirky, he’s one to conduct himself outside the norms of law, logic, ethics, and morals.

Anyway, let’s retest ourselves; let’s set aside the quirks for the moment – but only for the moment, for these quirks are profoundly revealing in themselves – and review how President Duterte has dealt with the larger matters of public interest.   

Among Duterte’s first presidential acts was one of treason – ceding our western sea to China, which it has transformed into a military base. The consequences for us have begun to unfold and, by what we see, these will be lasting and progressively grave.

Our fishermen who have made their living from those waters are now banned there. In another case of reverse discrimination, native workers and entrepreneurs are mismatched with Chinese rivals able to enter our country freely, even illegally, and, their sense of entitlement thus boosted, they operate in typical fashion – strictly homogeneously and not seldom covertly.

A farther-reaching tragedy in prospect promises to be far worse than our experience under the debt-ridden dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. As a nation now run by a leader looking more and more like a Chinese proxy, and with all the lessons from the experience of similarly fooled nations rendered useless for us, we become easy prey to Chinese usurers tricking us into a debt trap.

Some of the chief beneficiaries of Duterte’s centerpiece campaign in the name of retributive justice are Chinese, too. Our own security agencies have found them among the biggest, if not the biggest, traffickers in drugs, and, like their fellows, they have gone untouched, while tens of thousands of small fry – runners, users – have been killed.

If Duterte is thuggish in his habits, he is imperious in his ambitions. He repeatedly, openly threatens to put the whole nation under martial law; in fact, Mindanao, the main southern island, has been under martial law for more than a year and a half now.

He persecutes political enemies and asserts power by threat and intimidation and keeps it by bribery. No doubt, doubling the pay of the soldiers and policemen and appointing newly retired generals to strategic civilian positions are calculated steps toward his authoritarian goal.

About the economy, he confesses ignorance with both a false sense of humility and an escapist’s sense of responsibility. He dismisses the grumblings about the new taxes on fuel and their certain impact on the general cost of living. Not that he has any better argument, he simply doesn’t care. And why should he care when being his normal narcissistic self has been earning him such good ratings?

I heard someone point out that, lucky for Duterte, the last survey had been done before a “potential game changer” could be factored in. It refers to the televised revelation Duterte made, out of the blue and in all its sordid details, about his sexual assault on a housemaid.

Our detractor was obviously desperate and deaf. It was not the first time Duterte publicly spoke sexual; he, in fact, does it often, although apparently not often enough, judging by the quality of the laughter he got the last time around.

That laughter, I daresay, translated into a higher approval rating than 74%. – Rappler.com

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