WHAT do opin­ion polls say about mar­tial law?

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE - MAHARMANGA­HAS

Pres­i­dent Duterte’s dec­la­ra­tion of mar­tial law in Min­danao last May 23 will, of course, be on the agenda for the So­cial Weather Sur­vey for the sec­ond quar­ter of 2017. While await­ing its find­ings, let us bear in mind what past sur­veys have shown. 1. Mar­tial law has never been a pop­u­lar

idea. In June 1985, while Fer­di­nand Mar­cos was still ef­fec­tively a dic­ta­tor, the so­ciopo­lit­i­cal sur­vey of the Bish­ops-Busi­ness­men’s Con­fer­ence—pre­cur­sor of the So­cial Weather Sur­veys—asked a rep­re­sen­ta­tive na­tional sam­ple of 2,000 adults whether they agreed or dis­agreed with the state­ment “Given the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion of the Philip­pines to­day, it will help to de­clare mar­tial law.” This probe has been re­peated by SWS five times so far.

The 1985 sur­vey found Filipinos evenly split: 37 per­cent agreed, 33 per­cent dis­agreed, and the rest were in be­tween. The net agree­ment of +4, or Neu­tral, is the strong­est sen­ti­ment SWS has ever found for mar­tial law.

In July 1993, the per­cent­ages of agree­ment and dis­agree­ment were 28 and 50, or net -22, which SWS­con­sid­ers Mod­er­ate Op­po­si­tion (-10 to -29). In Jan­uary 1996, the two per­cent­ages were 20 and 67, or net -46, which we clas­sify as Strong Op­po­si­tion (-30 to -49). There con­tin­ued to be Strong Op­po­si­tion in Fe­bru­ary 2000 (net -43), April 2001 (net -40), and March 2003 (net -37).

In March 2003, in­ci­den­tally, the bal­ance of opin­ion on the ad­vis­abil­ity of mar­tial law was net -37 in the Na­tional Cap­i­tal Re­gion, net -40 in the Bal­ance of Lu­zon, net -39 in Visayas, and net -32 in Min­danao.

Op­po­si­tion was strong ev­ery­where. 2. In 1986, Filipinos wanted a dec­la­ra­tion of mar­tial law to have leg­isla­tive

per­mis­sion. The So­cial Weather Sur­vey of Oc­to­ber 4-29, 1986—when the present Con­sti­tu­tion was still be­ing drafted—in­cluded this agree/dis­agree item: “In the new con­sti­tu­tion, the Pres­i­dent of the Philip­pines should not be given the power to de­clare mar­tial law with­out the per­mis­sion of the na­tional as­sem­bly.”

The 1986 sur­vey found that 54 per­cent agreed and 28 per­cent dis­agreed, im­ply­ing Mod­er­ate Sup­port of net +25 (cor­rectly rounded). The net opin­ions were +22 in NCR, +13 in Bal­ance-Lu­zon, +30 in the Visayas, and +44 in Min­danao—i.e., Mod­er­ate in Lu­zon as a whole (which car­ried the na­tional av­er­age), but Strong in the Visayas and Min­danao. The sur­vey also found greater sup­port for the re­quire­ment

among more ed­u­cated re­spon­dents.

We know now, of course, that what the fi­nal ver­sion of the present Con­sti­tu­tion, ap­proved in Fe­bru­ary 1987, gave to Congress was the author­ity to re­voke mar­tial law, once de­clared. The 1987 Con­sti­tu­tion does not say that the dec­la­ra­tion it­self needs a con­gres­sional per­mit. 3. Filipino Mus­lims trust the MILF

and MNLF, but not the Abu Sayyaf. I think that the at­ti­tudes of Filipinos to­ward mar­tial law in Min­danao are bound to be in­flu­enced by their feel­ings to­ward the Abu Sayyaf and Maute Group in par­tic­u­lar, which have been iden­ti­fied as the gov­ern­ment’s ad­ver­saries in the Marawi City re­bel­lion. SWS has quite a few sur­veys about trust in the var­i­ous Moro rebel groups (ex­cept for the Maute Group, which is new), and is com­pil­ing them for re­lease soon.

In March 2017, the net trust rat­ings of the Moro Is­lamic Lib­er­a­tion Front (-39) and the Moro Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Front (38) were Very Bad among Filipinos as a whole, which is not sur­pris­ing. Among Filipino Mus­lims, on the other hand, trust in the MILF (+74) was Ex­cel­lent, and trust in the MNLF (+50) was Very Good.

In the case of the Abu Sayyaf, how­ever, the March 2017 net trust was -62 among all Filipinos and -64 among Filipino Mus­lims—i.e., Very Bad among both groups. The Marawi re­bel­lion is not likely to im­prove their num­bers.

———— Con­tact ma­har.man­ga­has@sws.org.ph.

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