SWS: 45% of Filipinos say ‘dangerous’ to publish criticism of government

SWS: 45% of Filipinos say âdangerousâ to publish criticism of government
Photos show President Duterte gesturing as he updates the nation on the government’s COVID-19 response effort during a televised address at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang the other night.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Despite Malacañang's claim that the press is "alive and well" in the country, a recent national poll found that that 45% of Filipinos believe that it is perilous to publish criticism of the Duterte administration. 

A Social Weather Stations survey conducted last September 12 to 16 found that 15% of Filipinos "strongly agree" while another 30% "somewhat agree" with this test statement: “It is dangerous to print or broadcast anything critical of the administration, even if it is the truth.”

Only 19% of the total 1,200 of the adults surveyed in-person said they disagreed. Another 29% said they were undecided. 

SWS said this is equivalent to a "moderate" net agreement score of 26 points — a six-point rise from the +20 recorded in June.

Respondents were evenly divided between Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao. 

The Septmber survey results are a huge drop from the 65% who agreed with the statement in a similar poll in November 2020, the results of which were released last March.

'Personal freedom to speak freely vs. Duterte rises slightly' 

Meanwhile, 42% of respondents agreed that they could say whatever they wanted "openly and without fear, even if it is against President Duterte." This was the primary test statement used in previous iterations of the survey in May and June. 

Another 28% were undecided while 22% disagreed. SWS said this marked a "moderate" net agreement of +20, a two-point rise from June and continued recovery from the +5 recorded in May. 

"However, the net agreement scores in May 2021, June 2021, and September 2021 are lower than in previous surveys when the test statement was 'I can say anything I want, openly and without fear, even if it is against the administration,' except for the record-low neutral +3 in July 1985, during the time of [the late dictator Ferdinand] Marcos," SWS said. 

Other findings  

  • Net danger in publishing criticism of the administration rises in all areas but the capital region 
  • Net danger in publishing criticism of the administration rises in all educational levels except among college graduates
  • Net personal freedom to speak freely against Duterte rose in Luzon 
  • Net personal freedom to speak freely vs. Duterte rises among high school graduates but drops among college graduates 

Palace congratulates Filipino journalist for Nobel win but agrees with her detractors 

After Filipino journalist Maria Ressa became the first Filipino to win the Nobel Peace Prize, Malacañang dragged its feet for three days before congratulating her. 

While presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the administration was "happy" about the award Monday, he also agreed with the statement issued by national artist F. Sionil Jose griping over the award which he claimed Ressa does not deserve. 

Roque stressed that Ressa was convicted on cyber libel and is facing a slew of other cases in Philippine courts—charges that Ressa maintains are politically motivated.

The spokesman also claimed that the press is "alive and well" and that "no one has ever been censored" in the Philippines even though Duterte's allies in the House of Representatives shuttered ABS-CBN just last year. 

Berit Ress-Andersen, chairwoman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, said Ressa and Muratov "are representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions."  — Bella Perez-Rubio with a report from Kristine Joy Patag 




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