If you wish to get an objective and accurate picture of the state of the Philippines under Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo, get yourself independent data that are untwisted or unmanipulated by the propaganda machinations of the administration and, to a very limited extent, of the opposition. Survey data and other statistics from independent and established local and international polling firms and watchdog institutions will prove reliable. Facts and figures from the Social Weather Station (SWS) and Pulse Asia survey groups and Transparency International (TI), Political and Economic Risk Consultancy, and Amnesty International (AI) should together provide the most accurate and unprejudiced picture of how better off or how worse off the Philippines currently is from the time Arroyo grabbed power in 2001.
Hunger in the Philippines
The level of hunger and poverty experienced by the Filipino masses under the Arroyo administration is reflected in the yearly survey of SWS on "self-rated poverty and hunger". As of November 2006, record high levels of "overall hunger" and "severe hunger" were recorded by the SWS survey for the quarter. The 19.0% Total Hunger and 15.1% Moderate Hunger represent unprecedented levels that far exceed the highest levels recorded during Joseph Estrada's administration--14.5% and 9.2% levels, respectively. The highest level of Severe Hunger was also recorded during Arroyo's administration, in March 2001.
SWS Degree of Hunger in Households: July 1998 to November 2006
Worsening Personal and National Quality of Life
A similar survey conducted by Pulse Asia a year earlier confirms the present difficulties faced by Filipinos. The July 2005 survey shows a majority--a total of 67% of Filipinos--believe " the circumstances of their families as of the survey period [to be] worse than their circumstances a year earlier." The 2005 survey, timed with Arroyo's Ulat ng Bayan, also reveals how a resounding majority of 80% of Filipinos believe that "the national quality of life now is worse than in the previous year and expect it to be even worse in the year ahead."
Pulse Asia’s July 2005 Ulat ng Bayan
Media Release on Concerns, Coping Strategies & Perceptions of the Poor
Dissatisfaction with Gloria Arroyo
Judging from the Social Weather Station's periodic survey on the satisfaction ratings of Presidents, it is clearly shown that only during Arroyo's presidency is the level of public confidence ever at a negative and consistent low. While the satisfaction ratings for the past presidents including Joseph Estrada easily exceeded the 60 percent levels during their peaks, Arroyo's confidence level barely reached the 30 percent level at its highest. From 2004 until the last survey in November 2006, the net satisfaction ratings of President Arroyo were at a consistent negative. The eight-year-long SWS survey data shows that never before since the end of Martial law has the Philippines been served by a President unaccepted by the general population.
SWS Net Satisfaction Ratings of Presidents, May 1986 to November 2006
The SWS survey on the negative perception of Arroyo is corroborated by the earlier Pulse Asia nationwide survey on " Alternative Political Scenarios and Best and Worst Persons to Lead the Country Now." Conducted in mid 2005, the survey study results show that as of July 2005, only a mere total of 26% of Filipinos favor Arroyo's continued stay in power until the end of her term, while a decisive total of some 73% think it would be "most beneficial" for the country if she either "resigns or is impeached" ; "resigns and she is replaced by a [junta], or "removed from office using any means."
2005 Pulse Asia Most Beneficial/Constructive Political Scenarios Table 1
Corruption in the Philippines
Certain apologists or supporters of the Arroyo administration could argue that the local SWS and Pulse Asia are biased survey research firms. However, even independent international watchdog and survey firms portray a bleak picture of the obtaining situation in the country. To start with, the 2006 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) tool of Transparency International gives the Philippines a very low score of 2.5 (out of the best possible 10), based on the "perceived levels of corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys." The 2006 CPI score represents a significant worsening of corruption in the country compared with the 2.8 score in 2000 during Joseph Estrada's term. When viewed in the context of the use of the corruption issue to rationalize the constitutionally suspect unseating of President Estrada back in January 2001, the CPI score comparison becomes all the more telling.
Transparency International CPI Report 2006
Transparency International CPI Report 2000
Even in terms of the holistic National Integrity System (NIS) Study of Transparency International, the Philippines is shown today to be a "country with institutionalized corruption" that is plagued by "the lack of will power to stamp out corruption, the nagging problem of morality in leadership and the absence of respect for the rule of law." The 2006 Philippines report show a big gap persists "between catching ‘small fry’ and ‘big fish’; between rhetoric and reality, and promise and performance."
Transparency International NIS Philippines 2006 Study Report
How Filipinos really view the much-touted anti-corruption campaign of the Arroyo administration is revealed by the Global Corruption Barometer 2006 tools of Transparency International. Survey data on how ordinary citizens "assess their government's fight against corruption" show that an overwhelming majority of Filipinos negatively view the administration's efforts. A mere 21% positively rate Arroyo's anti-corruption campaign, as opposed to a total of 78% of respondents who believe otherwise: 23% think the Philippine government "does not fight at all," 31% think the campaign is "not effective," while 24% hold that the administration "does not fight but actually encourages" corruption.
Transparency International Global Corruption Barometer 2006 - Report
Even the latest corruption survey of the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy lends support to the perception of severe corruption in the country. The 2007 survey of expatriate businessmen in Asia lists the Philippines as currently the "most corrupt" among 13 countries and territories surveyed in the continent. The story that appeared in the International Herald Tribune quotes from the survey report that "People are just growing tired of the inaction and insincerity of leading officials when they promise to fight corruption." Part of the survey shows that the respondents even gave the judicial system a nearly appallingly perfect 9.06 out of 10 score, with 10 as being "ineffective."
International Herald Tribune story "Philippines most corrupt, survey says"
State of Human Rights in the Philippines 2006
The extent and severity of obtaining human rights violation in the country under the Arroyo administration is most objectively seen through the holistic study of the renowned international human rights group Amnesty International (AI). While the military and police may dismiss human rights reports as Karapatan and other local groups as having been produced by entities infiltrated by or sympathetic with the CPP-NPA or perhaps, Muslim terrorist groups, the AI 2006 report represent a study independent of political ideology or affiliation. The following are excerpts from the Amnesty International Report 2006 for the Philippines:
"Scores of leftist activists were killed by unidentified assailants, often reportedly linked to the armed forces. Peace talks between the government and armed groups – Muslim separatists in Mindanao and communist rebels – made limited or no progress. Arbitrary arrests, unlawful killings, torture and “disappearances” were reported in the context of military counter-insurgency operations. Armed groups were responsible for abuses including hostage-taking. Complaints procedures, investigations and criminal prosecutions of suspected perpetrators of human rights violations were often ineffective. Criminal suspects in custody, including women and children, were at risk of torture or ill-treatment by police. Death sentences were imposed but no executions were carried out."
AI Report 2006, Asia-Pacific: Philippines