We begin the new year in the Philippines with great hope shared by 96 percent of our people in the fourth-quarter opinion survey held by Social Weather Stations in December 13-16.
This record high in a year-end survey was actually first achieved in 2017 at the end of the first full year of the new Duterte administration. It went down to 92 percent in 2018, the year inflation – high prices — soared to 6.7 percent in September. The nationwide survey on people’s hopes is now back to 96 percent, an affirmation of our people’s view of life in the Philippines today.
There is indeed so much that is happening in the world that makes Filipinos glad to be living in this country. We read of endless street fighting in so many countries over a variety of issues. In Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, and Algeria, young people have been marching in the streets protesting government corruption, unemployment, poverty, lack of government service.
In Chile, students see a crisis in health and education. In Ecuador. The people have been protesting against austerity measures, led by a plan to cut fuel subsidies. In Bolivia, the demonstrations began as a protest against alleged election fraud.
In Spain, the Catalans demonstrated against the Spanish government, seeking to break away from the rest of the country. In France, there was the yellow vest movement by thousands of people who felt they have been left behind.
In Hong Kong, the street rallies started with a protest against a proposed extradition law and have continued as a pro-democracy movement.
The causes have been different in each case. Some are over economic issues, others are political. But all the demonstrators, according to one observer, have the sense that they are not in control of their government or their officials.
We may remember that we too were driven by this sense of being left out when our people gathered by the millions at EDSA in 1986 in support of then Defense Secretary Fidel Ramos and Executive Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile. After days of the mass demonstration, then President Marcos yielded to the widowed housewife who had dared to run against him in a special election – Cory Aquino.
The same sense of discontent must be driving people of so many countries to take to the streets in protest demonstrations today.
We share many of the problems in these nations – poverty for so many people, so many still without decent work, corruption in some government agencies, inadequate government services. But our people have not taken to the streets as in these other countries. They continue to put their trust in the government led by President Duterte who, despite a tendency to threaten action that may be questioned by legal minds, has somehow managed to achieve results.
Thus we have today 96 percent of our people looking forward to the new year with hope. There is still so much to be done, but with such great support from the people, with such great hope, our country should be able to overcome the problems we face today.