Despite Palace assurances of 'winning,' Filipinos unsure if worst of pandemic over
Commuters at the MRT North Avenue station ride a bus after the MRT-3 line stopped its operations due to a cluster of coronavirus cases among its employees.
The STAR/Michael Varcas
Despite Palace assurances of 'winning,' Filipinos unsure if worst of pandemic over
Franco Luna ( - July 7, 2020 - 5:49pm

MANILA, Philippines — Despite repeated administration claims that the country is winning the "war" against the coronavirus pandemic, Filipinos are split on whether the worst of it is behind us or has yet to come, new survey data suggests.

According to the Social Weather Stations mobile phone survey, 47% of Filipinos said that the worst of the outbreak is still coming, while 44% said that rock bottom was over and done with. 8% either did not have an answer or refused to sound off. 

RELATED: Record-high 43% of Filipinos expect their lives to worsen over next year — survey

The survey also found that belief that “the worst is yet to come” is highest in the Visayas, where Cebu City still remains under a strict enhanced community quarantine after a succession of case clusters led to government officials labelling it as the country's new COVID-19 epicenter. 

SWS noted in its report that sentiment across areas in GCQ and ECQ did not differ, saying: "Opinion about the Covid-19 crisis did not vary by quarantine status: 47% in both ECQ and GCQ areas said “the worst is yet to come”, while 45% in ECQ areas and 44% in GCQ areas said “the worst is behind us.'"

"Conversely, 5% of Canadians and 31% of Americans said “the worst is behind us”, compared to 44% of Filipinos with that view," it added. 

SWS' survey, which interviewed a "nationally-representative sample of 4,010 working-age Filipinos," made use of mobile phone and computer-assisted telephone interviewing. Its sampling error margins stood at ±2% for national percentages, ±6% for Metro Manila, ±2 for Balance Luzon, ±3% Visayas, and ±3% in Mindanao.

'Congratulations, Philippines!' 

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque last month congratulated the country for beating the prediction of experts from the University of the Philippines. A visibly elated Roque went so far as to pump his fist in the air in celebration, saying: "We beat the UP prediction po. We beat it. So congratulations, Philippines!"

He also said he would make the same remark in future hearings, even asserting at Tuesday's Laging Handa briefing: "I still believe we are still winning the fight vs COVID-19." 

SWS data contradict the prevailing narrative among public officials that rises in cases happen because of a lack of discipline among Filipinos.

One found that most Filipinos — 87% of respondents — are more afraid of getting and transmitting COVID-19 compared to any other pathogen in the past. Another found that four out of five Filipinos left the house at least once and at most thrice in the week before the survey was conducted. Respondents said they did so for essentials, mainly food.

Though Malacañang often trumpets flattering survey results—including approval ratings for President Duterte—it has also been careful to rebuff those that are not as flattering.

In response to a survey of 83% of Filipinos saying they were worse off, for instance, Roque said: "It should be 100% [because] all of us are having a hard time...that doesn't surprise us."

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