Tue. Sep 21st, 2021
Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomes visiting PH President Rodrigo Duterte (right)

THE first striking result from the SWS 3rd quarter 2019 survey report is the huge drop of US Trust Rating amongst Filipino in that period. The survey results were reported out to the media in July of this year, almost half a year after it was done by the Social Weather Station (SWS).

As one mainstream newspaper reported, “The US suffered the biggest drop in net trust rating, dipping 25 points from + 67 in December 2018 to July 2019’s “+ 42. That this was published by SWS shows that the figures are real and SWS which is known to be the pro-US had no choice but to publish it.

Although one can obviously see that US ratings are still on the plus side, it is still a shockingly big decline for the former colonial master that controlled the country directly and indirectly from 1898 when Spain ceded the country to the US until the election of President Duterte in 2016.

The US has controlled or heavily influenced the Philippines for 118 years, but US dominance of the Philippine elite and managerial class continues to this day – as well as its overwhelming influence over Philippine mainstream media and its downstream influences such as social media.

The mainstream media is still heavily reliant on Western media wires and feeds, as well as Western social media platforms that are clearly predisposed towards the purposes of the skewed algorithms of Google, Yahoo, etc. really prejudices a huge portion of the information bias.

So, the question of why the US suffered such a huge decline in the 3rd quarter of 2019 in the Trust Rating amongst Filipinos is really a matter to seriously ponder.

What I can infer from the events of that survey period that may have caused this crash in US Trust Rating is the US non-response or passiveness to the sensationalized accidental ramming of the Filipino fishing boat Gem-Ver on the midnight of June 9, 2019, by an alleged “militia ship” of Chinese registry and the alleged dereliction of the duty of the ramming ship to rescue the fishermen.

All the Gem-Ver fishermen survived and were rescued, eerily timed I have always thought, by a boat from a supposedly common-cause claimant country of the Philippines – Vietnam. The Chinese vessel said it stayed away as they perceived hostile other fishing boats in the vicinity but ensured that they were ready to assist.

The Philippine population was greatly aroused and incensed by the incident, encouraged enthusiastically by the anti-Duterte and anti-China media in the Philippines and the Western media. The Rappler, an Internet news site funded by America’s Omidyar and NED, and domestic American-linked businessmen, was at the forefront of stoking the “blame China” disinformation campaign.

Rappler was among the first to publish alleged “on the spot” photos and videos of the “sunk” Gen-Ver which was actually still floating and its crew hanging on to the boat. But how could Rappler have those photos and videos in the dead stillness of the dark night hundreds of kilometers out at sea?

Rappler dramatized this a “sunk” and ramped up the sensational accusation with such headlines “Cook of Gem-Ver crew:’ China is lying’”, “Gem-Ver boat to Duterte government: Who side are you on?” with doctored photos and all.

The Philippine government pushed back against the torrential barrage of the Western and Philippine mainstream media and maintained its objectivity. When then-Secretary Piñol was assigned to investigate and met with the Gem-Ver boat captain Junel Insigne the story of the captain changed from being deliberately rammed to being “unsure if a Chinese ship; intentionally sank their vessel”.

As the government investigators dove deeper new findings made it crystal clear that it was an accident. Secretary “Teddy Boy” Locsin announced the Gem-Ver crew shared the blame for the accident. Gem-Ver did not have a lookout at the time and the boat’s red blinking mast light was not lit hence in the pitch dark of night it was is not visible to all other boats at all.

Accident it indeed was. Aid to the Gem-Ver fishermen flowed in and built up into a tsunami of contributions from the Filipino-Chinese and other communities. The Chinese fishing association of Guangdong province where the Chinese fishing vessel is registered expressed an official apology and promised compensation to the Filipino Gem-Ver crew.

Through the months of negative propaganda against alleged Chinese “ramming”, it is not surprising that China’s trust rating in that period dipped. According to the SWS survey, China’s rating declined by 9 points and still kept China in the negative range. Although the relative decline is not significant as could be expected. 22 % of Filipinos still expressed “much trust” in China.

China’s trust rating is expected to improve this year as the COVID-19 challenges are successfully overcome by China, in just one quarter. News of the massive assistance to the Philippines pouring in from China helping the country surmount the COVID-19 pandemic is well circulated. President Duterte has also highlighted many of his direct requests for aid from China in his SONA recently.

One of the key aid projects China will provide the Philippines is the “global public good” COVID-19 vaccine. President Xi Jinping promised to prioritize the Philippines in the distribution of the vaccine, and which President Duterte announced it at the SONA. Besides, Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian has been super-active in mainstream and social media highlighting all the on-going China-funded projects and aid.

One analyst asked about Australia’s inclusion in the survey, why is it included at all when Australia is irrelevant to the South China Sea issues. Methinks Australia’s image is being built up to boost the “alliance” image of US interference and as a contrast to China. There are a number of Filipino ex-AFP men working for Australia stoking anti-China propaganda from Australia. I encounter them on social media.

The SWS is a part of the information network of the “Yellows” and is mistrusted when it comes to their surveys of politically charged issues. We must not forget that the interlocking-directorships of the major survey groups, particularly the dominant SWS and Pulse Asia through blood-relatives of the late President Corazon C. Aquino and their last president, Noynoy Aquino– Rafael Conjuangco Lopa and Antonio “Tonyboy” Cojuangco.

Social surveys are okay for issues directly known by the surveyed parties that invariably target the masses. Such issues as hunger, poverty, home expenditures, consumer preferences, etc. are clearly viable questions, useful in studying the econometrics of society and the market preferences – but for complex political issues particularly foreign affairs these are inappropriate.

The masses and even the general public’s lack of information and insight into the complexities of foreign affairs and geopolitics, and the skewed treatment of these issues by the controlled Western and domestic mainstream media,  does help the interviewees respond intelligently, making them prone to manipulation – which is what the SWS, in coordination the PR agencies the US supporters and anti-Dutrerte political opponent, uses it for.

I and many political analysts have long known SWS to be politically biased in favor of the Yellow and pro-American political Establishment, i.e. the economic-political powers in Philippine High Society, that took power in 1986 after ousting Ferdinand E. Marcos. In 2004 when the late Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ) contested the presidency SWS was caught red-handed manipulating the Metro-Manila survey for rival Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, but the election numbers showed an FPJ win.

If this country and the Philippine government is to find dependable and reliable guidance in monitoring the public pulse on sensitive political and geopolitical sentiments of the public, a new, truly independent, professional survey organization is needed in the Philippines to conduct such authentically genuinely impartial, objective polling of public sentiments. The SWS and its sister Pulse Asia can never be counted on to reflect the genuine sentiments of the people.

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