Trust issues: The president’s trust rating, spying, US military presence, and the lotto paranoia

By Dine Racoma as originally posted at Blog Watch, Philippine Online Chronicles.

Despite the good amount of trust people apparently have vested on the current administration, it is safe to say that Filipinos are still the non-trusting type. We tend to always view things with skepticism. This is not necessarily bad. Giving trust does not have to mean giving up that watchful eye on people in the government. It’s one thing trusting the government to do what is good for the country. It’s another ignoring reliable information or reasonable doubts on possible wrongdoings. But of course, this does not apply to perennial sycophants, turncoats, and irrational oppositionists.

Trusting the Trust Ratings

So here comes another trust and popularity poll from the usual suspects. Pulse Asia recently released its approval and trust poll covering the past three months or the first quarter. According to their numbers, 70% of the Filipino population approve of the president’s performance while 69% express trust for him. These numbers, however, are a few points lower than last year’s.

Certainly, not everyone believes these numbers. Critics will always doubt how this has come to happen. They will always be left loudly wondering how the supposed mishandling of the Yolanda disaster failed to make a significant dent on the popular president’s ratings, in the same way they questioned the “improbability” of Yolanda victims expressing satisfaction over the Aquino government’s aid efforts. It’s just worth noting how Pulse Asia appears to be joining the government’s mouthpiece in downplaying the rating decrease.

Pulse Asia’s curious comment about the rating decrease being “still within the margin of error,” apparently trying to downplay the ratings drop, is the same line used by the president’s PR team to say that the drop is not significant. It’s fueling suspicions that there is some sort of “deal” between the survey firm and the Palace. Bear in mind that the margin of error could mean that, at least in theory, the real approval rating this year could actually be only 67% or at most 73% (70±). Compare this to last year’s 70% to 76% (73±). Since it’s uncertain which side of the margin of error the numbers went, we could be looking at a 67% vs. 76% comparison (as the worst case scenario, if this year’s numbers turn out to be on the negative (-) side of the margin of error and if last year’s numbers were on the positive (+). That’s going to be a material difference.

No, we are not being negative in saying these. What we’re simply trying to say is that if we take survey numbers, we should take them as they are. A 70% rating this year is just that and a 73% last year should also be taken just as it was – that there has indeed been a decrease. To muster the margin of error argument smacks of subtle deceit since it involves circumstances that are way more uncertain than the possibility of Pulse Asia conniving with the Aquino government.

Hi-Tech “Spying” Gadgets

United Nationalist Alliance secretary Toby Tiangco alleged that the government recently purchases equipment to spy on the opposition. The administration of course denied it, claiming that the equipment bought were part of the AFP modernization program. These equipment were obtained by the Department of National Defense from Rohde & Schwarz, a German company.

To claim that the administration would go so far to spy on the opposition is rather desperate-sounding. Malacañang’s defense for the Department of Defense on this issue was not perfectly believable but it didn’t really have to be that convincing anyway. The opposition’s preposterous claim does not even merit an answer. Communications Secretary Herminio B. Coloma asserted that spying is not th administration’s style. Of course, we know it. The administration can always call upon that infamous “small lady” to bring the documents they need to pin someone down. They can also turn to the magical gate Quezon City Representative Jorge “Bolet” Banal for bank documents. And yes, we mean this half-jokingly.

US Military Presence

It’s understandable being wary of foreign military powers. However, why do many Filipino politicos still express passionate distrust in the Americans like they will be re-colonizing the country the moment we let them establish naval bases here? The fear, it appears, is mainly on the possibility of the Philippines becoming a puppet of America and the alleged exploitation of the country’s resources. Protesters believe that the Americans will be taking advantage of the Philippines. Well, isn’t it ironic that the government had to rush an agreement with the Americans in the midst of the Chinese hegemonic threat (although they say it’s in preparation for Obama’s visit)? Guess who’s being opportunistic or taking advantage now? Many Filipino government officials have always distrusted the Americans but they’ve now become receptive to the idea of seeking American support, as they can’t deny the threat from China. So much for overzealous nationalism.

“Lutong” Lotto

Moving on with other trust concerns, somehow there’s this unusual air surrounding the recent issue regarding the PCSO and the multi-million lotto winnings. Some netizens claim that it was rigged. The Philippine Daily Inquirer, interestingly, ran a story about this based on an online post shared by over 3,000 Facebook users and liked by nearly 500. This issue of lotto results rigging has been going on for years. This is perhaps the first time we find a major news outlet paying attention to a PCSO lotto rigging allegation.

Hopefully, this article can trigger an investigation on the PCSO to put an end to this seemingly growing distrust in the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. Maybe it’s also about time the office gets a fresh scrutiny after the alleged funds malversation in the past administration. The doubt cast on the PCSO over the alleged rigging is about to get out of hand with some insinuating a collusion between PCSO head Margie Juico and (potential 2016 presidentiable) Mar Roxas.

On a lighter note, somehow in the midst of Filipino distrust and skepticism, we can say that we are propagating creativity. You can just “marvel” over the idea presented in the (news) comment below:

tanga_hanga_ni_abnoy2 days ago

alam ko may mga politicians na nagaabang ng claimants..babayaran nila kung magkano man yung napanalunan nila tas sila na magke claim s PCSO..o d b, pag sinita bkit yumaman sasabihin lang nanalo sa lotto kahit galing sa kurakot

Isn’t it amazing how creative we Filipinos really are? Our newbie politicians can certainly make good use of this idea. They just need to assign someone in front of the PCSO to find and negotiate with winning ticket holders, pay these ticket holders their supposed winnings, get their winning tickets, and claim the prize. Brilliant! This will provide them a credible explanation for their unexplained wealth.

Indeed, there are many reasons why we continue having trust issues, why we can’t just fully trust anyone. Our current socio-political landscape is still rife with reasons that prevent us from propagating a culture of trust and faith in each other’s moral fortitude. Hopefully, things can still change for the better.


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