51% of Filipinos think it is 'dangerous' to print or broadcast criticisms vs. govt – SWS

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Photo by Jake Verzosa.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 7) — A majority of Filipinos agreed that it is "dangerous" to print or broadcast anything "critical" of the administration even if the information is true, a recent national survey said Friday.

The Social Weather Stations said it found that 51 percent of Filipinos agreed with the statement "It is dangerous to print or broadcast anything critical of the administration, even if it is the truth," of which 23 percent strongly agreed and 27 percent somewhat agreed. Some 30 percent disagreed with the statement while 18 percent were undecided, the survey report said.

SWS said there is stronger agreement with the danger of criticizing the government among residents of Mindanao and Visayas than those in Metro Manila and Balance Luzon, or Luzon provinces outside the capital region. There is also strong agreement among respondents in the 35-44 age group, it noted.

The survey results also pointed out "stronger net agreement" from people who also said that Congress's decision to deny a new franchise to broadcast network ABS-CBN was a "major blow to press freedom." President Rodrigo Duterte had repeatedly lashed out against the network though the Palace maintained he was neutral on the issue. 

SWS conducted the special survey from July 3 to 6 via mobile phone with 1,555 adults — 306 in the National Capital Region, 451 in Balance Luzon, 388 in the Visayas and 410 in Mindanao. It has sampling error margins of ±2% for national percentages, ±6% for Metro Manila, and ±5% for Balance Luzon, ±5% for the Visayas, and ±5% for Mindanao.

This study also comes as several petitions were filed at the Supreme Court against the controversial Anti-Terror Act, which critics said is prone to abuse due to its warrantless arrest provision against suspected terrorists.

Fresh criticisms also surfaced as a top military official floated regulating the use of social media. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had already assured that would not be the case since it “would violate freedom of speech and discourse.”