STANDARD: WHEN FIGURES LIE

MANILA, JULY 27, 2012 (STANDARD) By Alvin Capino | Posted on July 27, 2012 | 12:01am | 1 Comment

It is ironic that while President Benigno Aquino III was bragging about the improved peace and order situation in the country during his third State of the Nation Address, newsman and former Philippine Tourism Authority chief Nixon Kua was dying in the hospital after being shot in the face during a robbery at the exclusive and gated Ayala Greenfield subdivision in Calamba, Laguna.

I first met Kua when he covered the Presidential Commission on Good Government for the Philippine Star in 1986. I was covering the same beat for the short-lived “The Independent” newspaper. Kua would die that night from his injuries.

The irony here is that Kua—the latest victim of the crime wave that has made all Filipinos, whether they are living in well-guarded subdivisions or in blighted residential areas, no longer feel safe—was an ardent supporter of President Aquino during his presidential campaign and after he became President.

What anger Kua’s friends are news reports that the four suspects should have been in jail because they are implicated in various crimes including, according to news reports, the non-bailable crime of gang-raping a minor for which they have pending warrants of arrest.

It is clear that if the police did their job and put these notorious suspects behind bars where they should have been, then the killing of Kua would not have happened.

And yet the President in his Sona proudly declared: “Crime volume continues to decline across the country. In 2009, over 500,000 crimes were recorded. This year, we have cut that number by more than half, to 246,958. Moreover, 2010’s recorded 2,200 cases of carnapping has likewise been reduced by half to 966 cases this 2011.”

The President boasted that the peace and order is better now than in previous years especially in his first 25 months in office.

“It is these facts that, we hope, will be bannered in headlines. We do not claim that we have ended criminality, but I’m sure no one would complain that it had been reduced,” the President said.

Mr. Aquino was wrong. Many people, including some of his own political allies, are complaining that he has things wrong as far as his boast of improved peace and order situation is concerned.

In fact, there are some who say that the President used 2011 data which would be favorable to his claim of better peace and order situation rather than 2012 crime statistics which would belie this.

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano says he is skeptical about the President’s claims that crime rates have gone down.

He says everywhere he goes, local government officials from barangay chairmen to governors are telling him of the worsening peace-and-order situation in their respective jurisdictions.

The obvious reason there seems to be a big discrepancy about the claim of the President in his Sona about the improvement in the peace and order situation and the actual situation where incidence of crimes, even just the ones actually reported to the police, are rising is that the President used old statistics.

The speech of the President was supposed to present the latest state of the nation but he used 2011 figures when in fact the Philippine National Police has already released crime statistics for the first half of 2012 and even for the first three week of July.

Malacañang Deputy Spokesman Abigail Valte has admitted that indeed Mr. Aquino used old data in his SONA for the crime statistics.

Valte, as usual, has an explanation for what appears to some as a deliberate effort to misrepresent the actual peace and order situation by saying they used 2011 data because the data for the year is complete.

“You can’t do an apple-to-apple comparison if you use the 2012 data because it is incomplete,” Valte said.

The explanation of Valte on why Mr. Aquino used old 2011 figures is, like many of her statements, quite comical. In other parts of the President’s Sona, he used 2012 statistics.

One of the highlights of the Sona, for example, is President Aquino’s boast about the growth of the gross domestic product. It should be pointed out to Valte that the GDP growth cited by the President is the figure for the first quarter of 2012.

The same thing is true about the President’s figures on unemployment. He cited 2012 statistics to show that the unemployment rate was dropping.

It would seem that the use of statistics in the Sona is selective. But why are we surprised? As they say, “figures can lie and liars can figure.”


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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