Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Few Filipinos believe there is democracy; most see oligarchy in control

Few Filipinos believe there is democracy in the Philippines and the level of public expectations in the country is at its lowest since July 2002, a June 24-July 8 survey of Pulse Asia shows.

The survey, which had 1,200 respondents, showed that 41 percent of Filipinos believe that the nation is run by a powerful few and that ordinary citizens cannot do anything about it. An equal number (41 percent) are undecided about the character of the country’s political regime.

Belief that the country is run only by a powerful few is highest in Metro Manila (55 percent), Mindanao (44 percent), Luzon (37 percent), and Visayas (35 percent). Most of the elite Class ABC (48 percent), followed by Classes D and E (40 percent each) also agree.

Only 17 percent disagree that the country is controlled by a powerful few. Forty-one percent are also undecided over the test statement that there is a big possibility that Filipinos will completely lose faith in peaceful means of promoting democracy. Thirty percent disagree and 29 percent disagree.

Despite the country’s problems, 50 percent of Filipinos still reject martial law as a way to resolve crises.

However, public disagreement on the use of martial law to solve the country’s woes dropped from 67 percent last year to 50 percent this year.

The Philippines attained its lowest level of public hopefulness since 2002, with only 49 percent saying that they are still hopeful about the Philippines. Thirty percent are undecided as to whether the country is indeed hopeless.

In July 2005, the level of hopefulness was at 69 percent. Between March and July 2006, the percentage of Filipinos expressing optimism about the Philippines declined by 10 percentage points.

"Longer-term year-on-year comparisons suggest some weakening of public optimism, with those agreeing with perceptions of national hopelessness and those expressing indecision on the state of the nation increasing by 10 percentage points," Pulse Asia said.

Three in10 Filipinos (30 percent) said they would migrate and live permanently in another country if they had the chance. This translates to about 14 million adult Filipinos.

A slightly bigger number (37 percent) would rather stay in the country while 32 percent are undecided but not ruling out the possibility of migration. Year-on- year, the percentage of Filipinos who don’t want to migrate dropped from 52 percent to 37 percent, the lowest since July 2002.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said many Filipinos who have been to other countries, including the US, are realizing that there is still nothing like the Philippines. He said the sentiment is felt mostly by Filipino and Asian retirees.
"It’s a free country. Everyone is free to think what they want to think…In the Philippines you are free to be poor but you are happy," he said. – Regina Bengco

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