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More Filipinos believe publishing criticism vs government dangerous – SWS

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
More Filipinos believe publishing criticism vs government dangerous â SWS
The survey, conducted from Nov. 21 to 25 with the results released yesterday, found that 65 percent of the 1,500 adult respondents agree to the statement “it is dangerous to print or broadcast anything critical of the administration, even if it is the truth.”
The STAR / Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — The number of Filipinos who believe that it is dangerous to publish or broadcast anything critical of the administration has sharply increased over the past year, a survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed.

The survey, conducted from Nov. 21 to 25 with the results released yesterday, found that 65 percent of the 1,500 adult respondents agree to the statement “it is dangerous to print or broadcast anything critical of the administration, even if it is the truth.”

Only 16 percent disagreed with the statement, while 18 percent were undecided. SWS said this gives a net score +49, up by 28 points from the +21 score obtained last July.

In the earlier survey, 51 percent of the respondents agreed that it is dangerous to print or broadcast anything critical of the administration, while 30 percent disagreed.

The net score is the rounded off difference between those who agreed and disagreed with the statement.

According to SWS, the net score on danger in publishing criticisms increased in all areas, with the highest in Mindanao at +58 (from +28 in July). It was followed by those in the Visayas at +55 (from +26), Balance Luzon at +47 (from +16) and Metro Manila at +30 (from +16).

Freedom of speech

The same survey, however, showed an increase in the number of Filipinos believing that they have the freedom to speak freely in the country.

Some 65 percent of the respondents agreed with the statement that they can say anything they want, openly and without fear, even if it is against the administration. Nineteen percent disagreed, while 16 percent were undecided, resulting in a net score of +46.

The latest score is five points higher than the most recent survey on the issue last June 2019, where only 59 percent agreed while 18 percent disagreed with the statement.

SWS said this is the highest score in terms of personal freedom since the +48 obtained in January 2001. Net personal freedom increased in the Visayas to +59 (from +47) and Mindanao to +55 (from +32), while it fell among respondents in Metro Manila to +28 (from +45). It stayed at +42 among those living in the rest of Luzon.

SWS said the survey has a sampling error margin of +/- 2.5 percent for national percentages.

Admin defense

Malacañang defended yesterday the Duterte administration from the possible adverse impact of the SWS survey.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. justified the fates of online news site Rappler and television station ABS-CBN after they faced separate legal challenges after they got the ire of Duterte.

ABS-CBN was shut down last year after they failed to get a renewal of  their franchise to operate.

Roque maintained that the administration respects the right to free speech, which is guaranteed under the Constitution.

“Well, for me, people shouldn’t doubt their right to exercise free speech because that is guaranteed under the Constitution, and the President, as a lawyer, has sworn to uphold the Constitution including the Bill of Rights,” Roque said in Filipino.

Pressed further on whether media outfits which carry critical stories won’t suffer the same fate as ABS-CBN and Rappler, Roque said the two news firms had issues with their legitimacy as media outfits in the country.

“It was an Aquino-appointed SEC which said Rappler violated the Constitution, not the President. And with ABS-CBN, their franchise really expired and it was only Congress that would give them that franchise, not the President,” he explained. –  Christina Mendez

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