Don’t Tell Me What Kind of Perceptions I Have

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wyp_lesaptIt’s no accident that two of the three primary propaganda instruments of the Aquino Administration (ABS-CBN and The Philippine Star) have played up the headline “Perceptions of Corruption Decrease” in the past few days. The by-now familiar pattern of distraction-as-damage-control follows allegations of yet another scandal within the Administration, this time striking particularly close to La Casa Noynoy’s inner sanctum with the charge of being (or at least attempting to be) a cheap little hustler being leveled against his own sister, Maria Elena “Ballsy” Aquino-Cruz.

While reliable information is emerging that indicates Ballsy did not, in fact, attempt to extort millions of dollars from the Czech light rail company Inekon, the anxiety of the Palace to want to divert everyone’s attention from the issue before the general public becomes aware of what really happened or worse yet, begins to discuss Ballsy and Eldon Cruz’s widely-known reputation for being the choke point through which most job-seekers in Kuya Noynoy’s administration must pass is understandable. But the thoroughly pathetic canard they have instructed their media minions to float this time is, at best, a sign that they’re running out of ideas, and insults the intelligence of classes not even the most cynical of us could have imagined they’d ever reach.

Headlines such as “4 of 10 Pinoys see decrease in corruption”, or “PH corruption decreased ‘a little’ in last 2 years” are so patently misleading that it seems hardly worth the effort to explain why, but maybe that’s exactly what the Palace propaganda meisters are counting on – if it’s too stupid to challenge, it becomes the truth by default. The survey these claims are based on is the Global Corruption Barometer survey conducted by Transparency International; about 1,000 Filipinos were surveyed for this year’s edition. Respondents were asked to rate corruption on a five-point scale: Whether it had decreased a lot, decreased a little, remained about the same, increased a little, or increased a lot over the past two years. The actual results of the survey, which unlike TI’s better-known Corruption Perceptions Index does not rank countries, were:

corruption perceptions

Technically, almost four in ten Pinoys surveyed felt that corruption had decreased to some degree in the past two years, so the Yellow Press wasn’t necessarily lying. But they weren’t necessarily being honest, either – four out of ten is a minority no matter how fast you try to spin it, and leaves the undeniable conclusion that SIX out of ten either felt corruption is about the same as it has been, or has gotten worse.

Implying that a negative result is actually a positive: Strike One.

Of course, the spin doctors could always defend themselves by pointing out the results of the survey are thoroughly unreliable, a dubious move to be sure, but one that would actually be ironically honest. Transparency International, though they undoubtedly have good intentions, are a complete train wreck when it comes to producing results that would meet even the most lenient academic standards. An immediate reaction of some people who shared the links to the news stories earlier today was that a survey sample of 1,000 people could hardly be statistically representative of the entire population. Actually, it is, and is even a larger sample than is actually needed. To maintain a 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error for a population of 50 million (roughly the number of voters the country supposedly has), a statistically-valid sample would only be about 385 people.

statistics, bitches
This equation says so.

The problem is, Transparency International is applying a phenomenological methodology to a subjective question. “Corruption”, in the absence of a specific definition being provided to the respondents, means different things to different people; some may only consider “taking bribes” or “embezzlement” to be corruption, while others might extend the definition (as I think it ought to be, for what it’s worth) to include nepotism and other forms of patronage, abuse of power, information manipulation, and waste and other forms of performance inefficiency.

Presenting the results of a methodologically-invalid study as conclusive indicators: Strike Two.

One thing the propaganda machine in this country has never learned is when to quit. Not content with disseminating what would have been a hilarious attempt at Aquino-boosting if it weren’t so offensive, ABS-CBN decided to go ahead and have its turd gold-plated by tapping the expert opinion of a certain Vince Lazatin. If I was not a regular and widely-read columnist at a major metropolitan daily newspaper and therefore a professional, I would be tempted to refer to Mr. Lazatin henceforth with a moniker that makes some reference to the President’s lower GI tract, because it’s quite obvious where the man’s head is at when he makes statements like, “In the 3 years of the Aquino administration, no major scandal in terms of corruption has really broken out in his official family,” and “The two big stories in the last 2 years have been the removal of Chief Justice Corona of the Supreme Court and the removal of Mercy Gutierrez at the Ombudsman. I think these were two of the largest obstacles to fighting corruption in the country.” Lazatin, by the way, is the executive director of the Transparency and Accountability Network, a coalition of supposed government watchdogs that, coincidentally, lists poll manufacturer Social Weather Station among its members.

Getting a Yellow Cult member to repeat Administration quick-text and offering it as an underlying cause of results, developed through completely uncredible methods, which have been speciously presented as an achievement: Strikes Three through Twelve.

After three years of intense practice, one would think the Aquino Machine would have gotten at least a little better at this, but no. At every turn, even in what once seemed to be an area in which it had some potential – opinion manipulation – the only thing the Administration has shown any improvement in is its own ability to fail in the most ridiculous and embarrassing way possible.

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About BenK

I write a column for The Manila Times on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Most of the energy sector and the heads of several government agencies probably wish I didn't.

40 Comments on “Don’t Tell Me What Kind of Perceptions I Have”

  1. Good grief, Mr Ben! That’s five degrees of stupid above what anybody should be comfortable with. I suspect their idea was to divert the public away from anything else Ballsy might actually be doing to further family interests.

  2. I gather we have reasons to question even Transparency International’s method of “‘measuring” corruption?

    1. Their survey methodology is terrible. The survey itself asks very vague questions, and doesn’t focus on specific acts of corruption. They discuss a definition to a certain extent in their accompanying material, but that’s not what was on the survey — it’s questions like, “How would you describe corruption over the past two years in your country?” Unless there’s a common point of reference for all respondents, the results are basically meaningless.

        1. COA today.- Malacanan spend 6 million pesos on sws/pulse asia surveys – 27% of comms budget.
          No wonder favourable results whenever needed.

        2. “6. Controlled Mass Media – Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.”
          — 14 Defining Characteristics of Fascism (all emphasis mine)

  3. Why did the rocket-scientist turned idiot(Lazarin) fail to mention the guy in the admin., Rico-the-rip-off-artist, that was stealing the bullets out of the pistols of the Manila/PNP police departments?
    That money could have easily been used to re-locate squatters/un-clog drainage ways in Metro-Manure, but NO.

    Call a turd a turnip, and someone will believe it. if anyone thinks the political goings on in the country are not thoroughly, if not completely, corrupt….thats just, just…AMAZING!

    Gold-plated turds excluded, LOL!!!

  4. I love how people question the existence of GRP and the motivation of their writers when we have to swim against the tide of coordinated misinformation from the Palace, ABS CBN, survey firms, Phil Star and PDI. Your tiptoeing Ben about describing Lazatin brings to mind Deckard describing Gaff in Bladerunner.

  5. Oh, that explains why the malacanang stooge group keeps attacking GRP in these past days.
    Unfortunately for them, it really won’t make a difference since we can easily see through their propaganda full of lies.
    Like I said before, only gullible IDIOTS would fall for the malacanang propaganda.

  6. Transparency international also said that while measures were undertaken “to tread
    the straight path that President Aquino promised the public, the
    passage of the FoI bill and the WPA ( whistleblowers protection act) — two most basic and most
    important pieces of legislation promised in the Philippine
    Development Plan — remained in limbo.”

    Pnoy’s inaction speaks louder than malacanan propaganda.

    Pnoy’s silence speaks louder than czech/check loving ballsy cruz and her avaricious husband

    The smokescreen eminating from the nicotine ridden halls of malacanan gets thicker as the desperation grows.

    A survey says pnoy should stop blowing smoke rings out of his ar$e and try some integrity.

  7. Pnoy and malacanan never let inconvenient facts get in the way of fantasy propaganda, and are doing just the same when it comes to corruption.

    Amlac report – money laundering up significantly in 2012

    BoCustoms – a leaky sieve as any importer knows.

    Pork barrel – increased and used blatantly to bribe/cajole congress. The root of all corruption.

    Saln increases – significant growth in wealth of govt officials and lawmakers in 2011/2012. Speaks for itself

    Budget increase from 1.5 to 2.3 trillion pesos in 3 years. With no major investments and claims of a previously corrupt administration then the budget should have reduced/stabilised if corruption itself had reduced.

    Tax evasion – a few little fish for publicity but hands off the usual suspects

    Drugs – philippines now a major hub in asia

    Jueteng – business as usual

  8. The alleged extortion deal involving Ballsy Aquino-Cruz is a demolition job. All investigations are closed until anyone will pin the presidential sister.

    1. She has already been ‘pinned’.
      The guilty do not hide behind a wall of silence.
      she went to prague with business colleagues
      had meeting with supplier.

      Also ballsy cruz and her husband have a track record as commission gatekeepers for the release of pdaf/pork barrel. Part of the criminal trailer trash

        1. i don’t need to. maybe just put her under house arrest.
          we all know the guilt and treachery of the aquinos starting with the traitor aquino 1 who helped the japanese in the war. it runs in their dna.

        2. Ironic that you demand us to prove it in court pero pagdating sa mga kaaway ng panot mong boss, guilty na kaagad.
          Double standard much?
          You already lost this argument.

          TROLL HARDER

        3. It is really ironic how you demand us to prove it in court for your besieged KKK of your bald boss but when your president’s enemies face the same allegations, your boss has already deemed his political enemies guilty without even proving it.

          You’ve already lost this argument
          TROLL HARDER

        4. “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

          Overly defensive. Suggests there really is something to Ballsy Aquino’s activities that are not exactly above board.

        5. I doubt it.

          Because the Aquinos got hold on the Supreme Court.

          And yes, they ARE corrupt. You’re just BRAINWASHED. 😛

      1. First, I do not like ANY politicians!

        Second, the innocent as well as the guilty have the right to remain silent.

        Third, the quote of Shakespeare was alleged ‘PROOF of Guilt’i the play. BUT, As it turned out (AGAIN,in the actual play itself) “The Lady” was actually innocent. “the Lady” did not protest enough in the play, apparently.
        Does the guy who used the quote even KNOW what “THE OTHELLO ERROR” is?

        No, methinks.

        1. You are reading too much into the comment and jumping to conclusions. Again. The Aquino government spinning tales and the comments made by “bida kapamilya” defending Ballsy Aquino were unnecessary. Especially with the evidence that the president’s sister was not involved in any extortion. That’s what draws suspicion. Paul Ekman has nothing to do with it. Try understanding the comments first before responding.

  9. in turn, i wonder how many of us in the country find the noynoy administration the most dishonest administration to date. i most certainly do feel like this government lies to me every damn day. and i’m proven right all the time.

  10. The 7 highly effective methods of corrupt politicians

    1. Use ‘surveys’ not facts

    2. Delay investigations, and hope any adverse issue fades away

    3. Handle money at ‘arms length’ – family/dummy corporations and offshore accounts

    4. Don’t sweat the small stuff – go for big bribes

    5. Never upset the powers that be. The have the’ goods’ on you.

    6. Promote good policies in public, derail them behind the scenes

    7. Don’t waste time on anything that does not have a personal/financial payback/payoff

    1. and pnoy questions NSBC everytime he doesn’t like the facts.
      but happy with paid for sws/pulse asia surveys.
      he just can’t handle or speak the truth

    2. Actually, it doesn’t show improvement or a worsening situation, because Transparency International changed their methodology from the last time the survey was given (2010-2011) — this one has a five-point scale, the last one only had three. So it’s impossible to compare.

      So yes, the methodology must be questioned. And don’t give me that crap on the same day the OP is questioning the methodology of its own statistical bureau (which is, if nothing else, fully explained and defended by the NSCB) because it didn’t like the results of one its surveys.

    3. But how credible are those “surveys”? All we see are nothing but pure BS and monkey business in order for your precious president’s and his mafias’ approval ratings better, shut up they are!

      Still not smart eh sendongslut a.k.a. jon-asshole’s wife?

  11. GMA really monitors their comment board, I made a negative comment on the cell phone charges and those text messages that the phone companies send out to eat up your balance and they wanted me to re-read the comment section rules again. What’s worse is that many can only afford to text as a form of communication, talking burns up the load in a few minutes, this is such a small country but the charges seem ridiculous. Why did the man at the top have such a large bill…well it could have been much smaller. Corruption I have been told by other expats has gone down in the larger city area’s but my expeierence in the province is no change what so ever.

    1. LTO branches lower Luzon Laguna area, nothing has changed for decades only more family members added as fake or fixer employee’s.

  12. The Philippine Star continues to lob weapons of mass distraction. The 12 July edition of the broadsheet prominently features Marian Rivera at the 10 July FHM party taking up a quarter of the fornt page. Hoping to keep people from reading any other headline?

  13. A strand of hair falls from the head of Kuya Balldy for every lie of Ball-te. Manipis na buhok at makapal na mukha. The sister is really Ball-sy – she and her husband got the balls for big-time corruption.

  14. A strand of hair falls from the head of Kuya Balldy for every lie of Ball-te. The sister is really Ball-sy – she and her husband got the balls for big-time corruption.

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