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SWS: 54% of Pinoys believe they have freedom of speech under PNoy admin

Slightly more than half of Filipinos believe they have freedom of speech under President Benigno Aquino III's administration, according to a survey by Social Weather Stations.

The SWS survey said 54 percent of some 1,200 Filipinos interviewed in the survey last March believe they can say anything openly even if it is against the administration.

In contrast, 22 percent held the opposite view while 24 percent were undecided, for a net agreement of +32 (percentage of those who agree minus those who disagree).

SWS' statement in the survey reads: “I can say anything I want, openly and without fear, even if it is against the administration.”

But the net agreement of +32, considered "strong," is lower than the +34 in September 2014, and +42 in September 2013. Under incumbent President Aquino, freedom of speech was highest at +42 in September 2013.

Also, the SWS survey showed 49 percent of respondents agreed that the government listens to what the public says compared to the 27 percent that disagreed for a "moderate" +23.

This was lower than the “strong” +37 in September 2013.

Freedom of speech was lowest under the Aquino administration at +24 in March 2013, as shown by the results posted on SWS' media partner BusinessWorld.

SWS considers a score of +50 and above as “very strong,” +30 to +49 “strong,” +10 to +29 “moderate,” +9 to -9 “neutral,” -10 to -29 “poor,” -30 to -49 “weak,” and -50 and lower scores “very weak.”

By geographical area

In the latest survey, the net agreement was strongest in Metro Manila at a “strong” +41, (61 percent agree, 20 percent disagree), a “strong” +33 in Balance Luzon (57 percent agree, 24 percent disagree), a “strong” +33 in Visayas (51 percent agree, 18 percent disagree), and a “moderate” +23 in Mindanao (46 percent agree, 23 percent disagree).

By socioeconomic class

SWS said net agreement was a “very strong” +59 in Class ABC, with 64 percent agreeing and 5 percent disagreeing.

Class D registered a “strong” +32 net agreement with 54 percent agreeing and 22 percent disagreeing. Class E had a “moderate” +25 with 52 percent agreeing and 27 percent disagreeing.

Previous administrations

Under the late Ferdinand Marcos, Filipinos’ sentiments about the freedom of speech was a low +4, and soared to +39 in May 1986, shortly after Marcos was ousted in the EDSA-1 uprising.

Under the late Corazon Aquino, freedom of speech peaked at +63 in March 1987 and reached its lowest at +16 in September 1988.

Under Fidel Ramos, freedom of speech was lowest in August 1994 at +28, and peaked at +47 in September 1997.

Under Joseph Estrada, freedom of speech fell to its lowest at +34 in July 2000 before peaking to +48 in January 2001.

Under Gloria Arroyo, freedom of speech was highest at +48 in January 2001 but plunged to +22 in May 2005.

The SWS noted freedom of speech under Mrs. Aquino and incumbent President Aquino reached their lowest at +32.

It added freedom of speech under the Estrada administration ranked highest at a “strong” +42, the Ramos administration at “strong” +38 and the Arroyo administration at a “strong” +36. — Joel Locsin/LBG, GMA News