Social weather in Davao City

Subscribe Now May 24, 2014 at 08:25am

Last May 9, I was in Davao City to listen to the presentation of the first City-Wide Social Survey (CWSS-1) of Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU). It was a pleasure to taste the first fruits of formal cooperation - by orienting, training and sharing - of Social Weather Stations with Addu to set up its own polling center for the purpose of tracking the "social weather" in the city.

Generically, the term “social weather” covers the people’s quality of life in all possible senses. It includes, among other things, how well the people are being governed, their attitudes and aspirations, and their opinions on public issues. SWS cannot, and has no wish to, monopolize surveys on these matters. We are flattered to be imitated, and only point out that “Social Weather Survey,” capitalized, is trademarked.

Addu’s polling center was proposed last year by its University Research Council, under Lourdesita Sobrevega-Chan, and then approved by its president, Fr. Joel E. Tabora, SJ (whose blog that “the Catholic Church is in trouble” and “people are about to leave the Church” had inspired the SWS special report that “9% of Catholics sometimes think of leaving the Church,” 4/7/2013). The new center signifies Addu’s desire to position itself as a major player in doing cutting-edge research with implications for the peoples of Mindanao in particular, and even the country in general.

The CWSS-1 was administered by Addu’s Social Research, Training and Development Office, through its director Mildred M. Estanda (srtdo@addu.edu.ph) and history and political science department chair Christine Diaz. It used a scientific random sample of 632 adults (i.e., error margin 6 points), interviewed face-to-face on April 9-16, 2014. The very fast turnaround from the fieldwork period to the presentation on May 9 is impressive.

Addu plans to do the survey twice a year, suggesting that there will be four more rounds before the 2016 elections. This big investment will make Addu the second university to establish a regular local poll, after Holy Name University established its Bohol Poll in 1997, also with technical assistance from SWS. (There have also been polls by Ateneo de Naga University, Notre Dame de Cotabato, and Divine Word College of Legazpi, but these are only occasional, to my knowledge.)

A favorable political climate. Opinion polling is not rocket science; the capability exists in many local academic centers. What they need, more than expertise or even financing, is a climate of political freedom.

The departure of Marcos in 1986 is the main reason for Philippine leadership in opinion polling in Southeast Asia. Polling in Indonesia only started after Suharto left, and in Taiwan after the Chiangs left. In Singapore and Malaysia, it is subtly restricted. In Thailand, it is vigorous, except that the subject of the royal family is banned—what will happen to it now, under the newly-declared martial law?

In Davao City, it certainly helps to have an extremely popular local government. The CWSS-1 finds 98 percent satisfied with the general performance of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. There are 85 percent satisfied with the performance of the city government in general.

Regarding the handling of peace and order, 98 percent are satisfied with the mayor, 89 percent are satisfied with the vice mayor, 83 percent are satisfied with Task Force Davao, and 77 percent are satisfied with the city police.

Satisfaction breeds cooperation. The percentage of people either strongly willing or moderately willing to cooperate with the Davao City firecracker ban is 96. The percentage willing to cooperate with the new speed limit—only 30 kilometers per hour in the downtown area, if my memory is right—is 87 percent. Other amenability rates are 87 percent for the liquor ban, 86 percent for the antismoking ordinance, and 84 percent for garbage segregation.

At the same time, many Davaoeños are concerned about specific threats to peace and order. The percentage saying they are “extremely worried” about extrajudicial killings is 69. The counterpart percentage worried about illegal drug trafficking is 65. On terrorism and bomb threats, it is 54; on crime in general, it is 40.

Fifty-seven percent are aware of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. Seven out of ten say that it will improve peace and order in Mindanao, that it will improve the livelihood of Christians, and that it will improve the livelihood of the lumad (indigenous peoples). Almost eight out of ten say that it will improve the livelihood of Muslims.

The first Addu survey has more details about governance and peace and order, as well as other topics like economic trends, employment, the environment, social discrimination, wealth creation, and happiness. It’s a treasure trove of data about the people of Davao City.

Opinion polling is a serious matter. Sooner or later, any serious polling establishment should face the challenge of election surveys. Surveying about voting intentions is critical, because success in predicting elections is THE way to establish professional credentials. But local elections are easier to predict than national elections, so I expect Addu to accomplish this handily.

Addu and other local pollsters who do research on voting have the respect of politicians, both winners and losers. Losers only pretend not to believe in polls. Smart candidates don’t want to lose to opponents with superior survey data.

Source: inquirer.net



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