Zero consensus?


Pulse Asia’s just released its October 2005 Ulat ng Bayan Survey with this Media Release on Most Beneficial and Most Inimical Political Scenarios, and Best Person to Lead the Philippines at Present:

Based on a multistage probability sample of 1,200 representative adults 18 years old and above, Pulse Asia’s nationwide survey has a ± 3% error margin at the 95% confidence level. Subnational estimates for each of the geographic areas covered in the survey (i.e., Metro Manila, the rest of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao) have a ± 6% error margin, also at 95% confidence level. Face-to-face field interviews for this project were conducted from October 15-27, 2005.

In a nutshell, here’s what’s interesting (in general, the text is copied from the Pulse Asia Report):

1. 58% want the President to resign, but broken down as follows:

*17% the President resigns followed by a presidential election.
*12% the President resigns and eventually replaced by Vice-President Noli de Castro.
*11% the President resigns and is replaced by a temporary “junta,” paving the way for the election of a new president or prime minister.
*11% the resignation of both the President and Vice-President with Senate President Franklin M. Drilon temporarily taking over while preparations are made for a special election.
*8% the President resigns with Vice-President de Castro taking over while preparations are made for a new government under a new charter.

My read: As Pulse Asia says, the only thing more than half seem able to agree on, is they want the President to go. How, however, is closely debated. With the plus or minus three points margin of error, the “special election” scenario, with 17% only does marginally better than all the other scenarios. You could lump together all scenarios that mention the Vice-President and come out with a consensus, of sorts: 20% are OK with the President resigning and the Veep taking over, whether to finish her term or until a new government is established. What is startling is the parity the junta scenario has with the other, individual scenarios.

2. 35% don’t want the President to resign and prefer:

*24% would like the Arroyo administration to continue in power until 2010.
*11% favor the President staying in Malacañang while at the same time charter change is pursued to pave the way for a shift to a parliamentary government would replace the incumbent administration before 2010.

My read: This is the President’s core constituency. Of that constituency, 24% is “hard core”; 11% could, technically, shift their allegiances away from her. This group represents the “tipping point,” in terms of people, the other groups are still trying to court.

3. The President remains most popular in the Visayas but support is declining even there:

60% of Luzon wants her out. 64% of Metro Manilans want the President out. More Visayans want the President out (47%) than want her to remain in power (43%). 61% in Mindanao want her out. On the other hand, 35% in Luzon, 43% in the Visayas, 31% in Mindanao want her to stay.

My read: The Visayas figures bear close scrutiny. Has the President lost the battle in her bailiwick? And what accounts for the disparity between Visayas and Mindanao -do the Cebuanos in Mindanao, for example, feel different from Cebuanos in Cebu (and of course, what of the vast population of Cebuanos in Manila?). I mention Cebu and the Cebuanos because they receive special attention from the President. My theory at this point is that the extremely large number of non-Tagalogs in Metro Manila have an effect (a prejudicial one) on the President’s popularity, either when they travel, call, or text relatives in the provinces. Still, the Visayas remains the bailiwick of the President while she has lost Luzon and Mindanao.

4. What do people consider the worst scenario?

*40% a coup by the military and police (22% a coup takes place, the military and police decide who will rule the country is worst; 18% a scenario where the military and police exercise power themselves is worst).

*28% President Arroyo resigning (8% the President’s resignation from office and her replacement by a temporary “junta” is worst; 7% the President and Vice-President resign and the Senate President temporarily leads the country is worst; 5% the President’s resignation followed by a special presidential election is worst; and 4% the President’s resignation and replacement by the Vice-President or the former’s resignation, the latter’s exercise of temporary rule, and preparations for a new government under a new constitution as the worst).

*21% President Arroyo’s continued stay in office (12% specifically the Arroyo administration’s continuation in office until 2010 is worst; 9% President Arroyo’s remaining in office while the 1987 Constitution is amended to shift to a parliamentary government before 2010 as the worst).

*11% a foreign government’s involvement in the political crisis.

My read: More people still think it’s worse for the country if the President quits, than think it’s worse if she hangs on. With the scorched earth governance the President’s doing, the 28% is the magic number in this whole survey; it trumps all the other scenario numbers. More people fear the President’s resignation than see a way out through a snap election, a junta, Constitutional succession, etc. But note, of course because of the way the questions were asked, the lack of a positive reason for the fear. By this I mean: no one seems to view the President’s resignation as awful because they believe her the best, the most qualified, etc. This is something crucial, even if you have to read between the lines to find it. The fear expressed by those viewing the President’s resignation as a disaster is even more atomized than those expressing an opinion on what should be the means to get rid of the President, because they are still a minority. So a majority of the people want the President to go, a large minority want her to stay; the majority is so divided that for now, the minority that want her to stay is more united in what it fears, than what the President’s opponents want.

5. Who should lead the country?

19% Vice-President de Castro (down from 26% in July): most popular in Visayas and Mindanao and Class D and E.
18% No one in particular (up from 9% in July: “sentiment most pronounced in Metro Manila and Class ABC”).
14% Joseph Estrada (up 3 points from July).
13% Panfilo Lacson (down from 21% in July: most popular in Metro Manila and Class ABC).
12% President Arroyo (up 5 points from July).
8% Susan Roces (down from 10% in July)
4% Chief Justice Davide (unchanged from July).
3% Fidel V. Ramos (unchanged from July).
2% Brother Eddie Villanueva (unchanged from July).

My read: How depressing. Never, it seems, except perhaps in the early days of Martial Law, has the country had such a shallow bench of leadership. The “No one in particular” percentage, though, is again, the “tipping point” figure. They’re the ones looking for a leader; if they find someone, chances are the numbers for the others would erode, and some sort of consolidation might take place. The Senate President, Frank Drilon, for one, doesn’t appear in the positive lists; neither do a whole bunch of senators (Mar Roxas, Jun Magsaysay) or any governors or mayors.

6. Who should not lead the country?

40% President Arroyo (-7 percentage points since July).
39% former President Ramos (+14 percentage points since July).
34% Brother Eddie Villanueva (+6 percentage points since July).
29% Susan Roces (+9 percentage points since July; 49% of her fellow Visayans view her as not the choice).
25% Panfilo Lacson (+5 percentage points since July).
20% Joseph Estrada (unchanged).

My read: Odd that the Veep isn’t on this list. Fidel Ramos is sunk, in case anyone doubted it. Antipathy toward Susan Roces, Panfilo Lacson, and Bro. Eddie Villanueva seem insurmountable: they can throw their support to someone, but must do so carefully, as more stand to be antagonized by whatever they do, than will be mobilized by any call they make. Estrada is marginally more unpopular than popular, too; a wild card, but with far greater political strength than the President (for example, if Estrada says jump, 14% will jump, 20% will get angry Estrada said something, meaning he will antagonize 6% more people than he motivates; the President, whatever she does, antagonizes 40% while motivating 12%, a negative factor of 28%).

7. Question and Answer Portion

“In the last elections, President Arroyo won fairly and without cheating.”

Nationally, 17% Agree, 29% Undecided, 52% Disagree, 1% Don’t Know/Refused to Answer (Except for Class E, all other classes have majorities disagreeing).

My read: How strange more of the Class E are in agreement with the attitudes of the Solita Monsods of this world.

(2) Ub2005-3 Mr On Scenarios - Final
Here’s the latest Ulat ng Bayan Report in PDF format.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

26 thoughts on “Zero consensus?

  1. Re: National Interest

    If these are the only ways to capture National interests
    how can we then…with preconcluded questions based on a limited alternatives

    than I go back to my theory on problem solving


    where does the problem statement fit in is it already in the VISION

    National Interest= Problem Statement

  2. The survey is indicative of familiar but pervasive distrust of Filipinos. They don’t want anymore President Arroyo but more appaling is they don’t trust any capable Filipino to lead the nation either. In the US, united we stand, divided we fall. In the Philippines, Filipinos don’t allow one to gain an upperhand. Opportunities are squandered for status quo. An excellent rejoinder of crabby mentality to drag everybody else down. The well respected and brilliant Jose Rizal was accurate in contemplating ceding trust to American for overwhelming reason. However, the country can go forward but so crabby in its pace.

  3. jove, manolo.
    i really wouldnt be so concerned with the “success”/attention” entertainment/pbb blogs now enjoy. it’s a fad.

    political blogs provide a very important service that all people have to pay attention to at some point. entertainment blogs tend to be rather ephemeral and should the topic fail to suit your taste, you might not even be interested in it.

    i agree that for the interim the readership of news blogs may be on the downswing, but i wont think about it that much. besides, nothing enwsworthy’s happenning nowadays.

    at least in the meantime…til someone…pops up again

  4. I don’t think it’s depressing at all for the Filipino people to show a bit of healthy skepticism towards the available choices. It’s heartening to know that the current #1 choice is also the designated constitutional successor and that there is an aversion to nonconstitutional options. Credit goes to Class E for intuitively grasping Solita Monsod’s nuanced analysis.

  5. Dodong, given that a recent product of the US electorate’s decisiveness is the reelection of GWB (an evangelical Erap with access to the nuclear button), i would say that an
    attitude of healthy skepticism has its merits.

  6. waht will happen when Loren ‘s case uddenly has an interesting twist….
    she is not part of the survey now…..

    What if by a stroke of a miracle she suddenly became a contender again

    what could the results be

    mahilig pinoy sa dehado wala kasi dehado sa mga option eh….

  7. Perhaps, more than the crab mentality, it is (as Manolo points out) the scarcity of options, the shallow bench. The standard reaction of “80 million Filipinos and nobody to choose from?” may not apply because the array of choices is limited to a few prominent personalities, none of whom appears to be good enough. Most likely, “the chosen one” is among the rest of the 80 million, still faceless and still nameless. After the French Revolution resulted in anarchy and disaster, France muddled through for some years until it settled on Napoleon.

    What impresses me is that, judging from the survey, the public is nobody’s fool. They see through the likes of Eddie Villanueva and Susan Roces (who, to my judgment, is a good person, but certainly incapable to run the country. It seems the people learned their lessons well from their disappointing experience with Cory Aquino).

  8. Happy to know that 58% of those surveyed were on the same train of thought as mine. Not so happy, though, to know that they can’t agree on how to proceed post-GMA….

  9. after all is said & done, the bottom line is that there is no clear choice of if not pgma than who?
    the bottom line is she is not popular, certainly not loved & what ever else.
    it’s pathetic that her enimies never seem to give speaks poorly of peoples character that their end-all & be-all is just to get rid of her & what makes it even worst is not presenting a viaball alternative.
    i think we seem to have a penchant to lose time in useless things.
    i think pgma is working for the economy to prosper. can anyone tell me what is wrong w/ that?
    i see that if i as an individual can earn better because of good economic condition. i in turn can generate more jobs & afford more goods & services. i can be a positive factor for society.
    i think, we really have to get a lid on obsessive politics, sort of idealissim & speculations. and learn to accept life for what it is.leaders don’t have to be loved. leaders have to lead & be visionaries. popularity does not nesseserely equaate w/ what is right. cuz what is right is always the hardest thing to do.

  10. karl, ha! ha! Seriously, I do think “the chosen one” is out there. The person may be faceless and nameless now, but he/she will be destined to lead us in the future. It could be someone who is not on the short list of prospective leaders. It could be someone we did not expect. It could even come from what Dean Bocobo terms as the Filipino “Diaspora”. And, as Alexander Lacson points out in his book, one good leader can make a huge difference in a liftime (witness Singapore under Lee Kwan Yew, Malaysia under Mahathir, South Africa under Nelson Mandela).

    What is apparent to me from the survey is that the nation doesn’t think much of the present short list of potential leaders. The leading candidates: Noli, Erap, Ping have mixed, if not lukewarm, support. They are really viewed more like potential “stop-gaps”. The nation isn’t too gung-ho about these guys.

  11. GMA reflects EDSA 2 as Cory reflects EDSA 1. Dramatic and breathtaking as those EDSA revolt were, they produced nothing better. GMA and Cory have in fact become the best deterrent for another EDSA type uprising. The opposition at least has some sense in trying to avoid such a humiliating embarrassment.

  12. karl, some time back, when I was still friendly with the administration, some DND people approached me about a lecture or two to the National Command College or something, precisely on the subject of defining “the national interest.” It would have been an excellent experience.

    dodong, seems to me the problems in the USA with Bush and other problems (the Germans, etc.) indicates anyone can have problems with a collapse in confidence in the government.

    rg: entertainment trumps news always, everywhere, at any time, except perhaps when there’s a major war or disaster.

    Carl and Karl, “The Chosen One” is out there. I think that too. Who it is, is anybody’s guess. We could try the Dalai Lama solution and I don’t know, walk around with a rattle or drive the presidential limousine around until it runs out of gas and whoever is by the door when that happens is meant to be president…

    ricelander, some of the years of very high economic growth came right after edsa, the momentum was stopped by the military coups.

  13. What I find most interesting in Manuel L Quezon III’s interpretation of Pulse Asia’s recent survey is point no. 6:

    If Gloria were ousted and presidential elections were to be held today, we just might find either Estrada or Lacson as frontrunners in an election scenario. I wonder if Estrada would be elected or re-elected if a presidential election were called today. He is undoubtedly qualified to run, after all he didn’t finish his term.

  14. Anyone who is familiar with the basic Star Wars storyline knows that we have to be wary of the ‘Chosen One’. If there’s one thing Philippine history has shown over and over again is that our leaders are not able to resist being addicted to Power. Perhaps, they start out with good intentions, but somehow it always seems to go to their heads. (That is why controls like term limits and direct elections makes sense.) Forget about waiting for a Messiah. There is no shortcut to having a critical mass of discerning, responsible and involved members of the public. In this matter, it is the self-serving apathy of the middle class that is the major challenge. It is the one thing we could change that would make a reasonable difference.

  15. On: Gloria’s claim of having conversations with God (thereby perhaps being the “chosen one”):

    This week’s Time magazine published (Verbatim) Bishop Oscar Cruz’s tirade: “If you talk to God, that’s a prayer. If God talks back to you, that’s schizophrenia.”


  16. A de Brux,
    There are five and exactly five ways a Presidency can end under the 1987 Constitution:

    (1) completion of the six year term;
    (2) death of the President;
    (3) voluntary resignation of the President;
    (4) conviction after impeachment;
    (5) permanent incapacity.

    Before last year’s election none of these could have applied to Erap, meaning to say, he was illegally deposed. But there is a logical difficulty after 2004. If one maintains that Erap was illegally deposed, that means he was legally President all of GMA-1. So one could say, his term ran out, for you cannot deny it without abandoning the premise that he was illegally deposed.

    But I blame Davide for it all. He committed a second wrong to right Erap’s crimes. But Davide’s crimes were greater, in my estimation.

    I asked FEU’s Dean Andy Bautista recently how they teach Estrada vs. Arroyo (March 2001) and Estrada vs. Desierto (April 2001) at the FEU Law School. He really had no answer you know.

  17. CVJ, it is the US electorate’s decisiveness that made its nation great. The Filipinos were able to remove the dictator Ferdinand Marcos. In that glorious moment, the Filipinos had shown to the world that they can. But once again become timid until pushed to the extreme.

  18. DJB, I agree with you without reservation that Davide committed a far greater crime than all of them…

    Thanks for the input re presidency.

  19. CVJ, I agree when you said that the self-serving apathy of the middle class should be changed if one should make a difference. In America, a strong vibrant middle class determines the course of the nation.

  20. Manolo, the collapse of confidence in government is democracy at work which allows correction of government actions and policies plus change of leadership when election comes. Americans never replaced their constitution nor subvert their President’s term. There is just too much political personalities instead of realizable social issues in the Philippines driving the middle class to its current apathical state. Philippine news is driven by political intrigues and personalities. Filipinos are still clanish and political party changes as often its leader had its mood swings. There is so much hulabaloo, nothing in substance.

  21. We always fantasize with “the one”. It won’t come. We have to give someone a fair chance. Who would think the draft dodging Clinton and college snorting cocaine Bush would be president. We only need someone to step up and carry the voices of the majority like what erap did. We just hope that he/she has guts to finish his/her declaration.

  22. DJB, Filipinos love quick fixes, and always blame somebody when things go wrong. Davide is naturally the scapegoat. Again, selective amnesia is at play. Easily forgotten are the rest of the 15 brilliant justices in the unanimous decision (by 12 of 15) on constructive resignation in extraordinary situation. Each of these justices earned their right to the highest office as provided in the constitution. Any opinion hardly matters when it comes to legal opinion done by these justices.

  23. 58% want the President to resign.

    59% of the electorate in the last presidential elections did not vote for Arroyo; only 41% voted for her.

    Back to square one then.

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