THE public satisfaction rating of President Benigno Aquino III plunged to its lowest level during the first quarter of 2015, the latest survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) shows.
The drop, to a net satisfaction rating of 11 percent (percent satisfied minus percent dissatisfied), represented a steep 28-point decline from 39 percent in December, and was attributed to the Jan. 25 Mamasapano incident in which 44 police commandos were killed in a covert operation gone wrong.
The survey showed that 47 percent were satisfied (down 16 points from the December survey) with Aquino’s performance; 36 percent were dissatisfied (up 12 points); and 17 percent (up three points) were undecided.
SWS said the March 2015 survey was conducted from March 20 to 23, 2015 using face-to-face interviews with 1,200 adults nationwide, 300 each in Metro Manila, Balance of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent for national percentages and plus or minus 6 percent for the regional findings.
The survey showed that satisfaction ratings of the President dropped across geographical areas, led by areas in Luzon outside Metro Manila.
The survey also found that most respondents opposed calls for Aquino to resign. Half disagreed that Aquino should resign while 32 percent said he should. Some 18 percent was undecided.
Aquino’s rating also fell across socio-economic classes, by 43 points among those in class ABC, and 27 points among those in classes D and E.
A Palace spokesman sought to put a positive spin on the drop by saying the SWS approval rating was higher than the President’s standing in a Pulse Asia survey conducted three weeks earlier.
“While there has been a decline in the President’s satisfaction rating (down to 47 percent from 63 percent), it is evident that a higher number of Filipinos --- (50 percent who oppose his resignation; and 47 percent who expressed satisfaction) --- affirm their belief in his leadership and outnumber those who are dissatisfied (36 percent) or prefer that he resign from office (32 percent),” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma.
Coloma also pointed out that a significant segment of the respondents were undecided about the President’s performance (17 percent) and about his resignation (18 percent), representing an opportunity for the administration to reach out and eventually win them over.
Coloma said the SWS survey was taken from March 20 to 23, three weeks after Pulse Asia’s public opinion survey conducted from March 1 to 7.
“It is possible that, having gathered more information about current events—and having been able to know and understand better the President’s position on the Mamasapano incident—the people gave the President a higher satisfaction rating in the SWS survey (47 percent) than the performance approval rating that he obtained in the Pulse Asia survey (38 percent),” Coloma said.
Despite the drop in ratings, Coloma assured the public that the government remains focused on its priority programs, such as infrastructure development, employment generation, poverty reduction, and improved social protection.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda admitted, during a press briefing in Malacanang, that the Mamasapano incident may have taken its toll.
“Very clearly the events in Mamasapano have influenced the political landscape when the survey was taken. We recognize that. And moving forward, we will continue to do what is good for the Filipino people,” Lacierda said.
“We know that there are a number of things that we need to do, a number of concerns that we continue to address. And we will certainly perform our duties --- the President as well as the administration. We still have several hundred days left,” Lacierda said.
Earlier, Pulse Asia had reported that the President’s approval and trust ratings plummeted to their lowest levels since 2010 follow the public outrage over the Mamasapano debacle.
“This is the first time the President has posted non-majority national approval and trust ratings in Ulat ng Bayan surveys since he was first rated as president by survey respondents back in October 2010,” Pulse Asia said.
Aquino’s approval rating fell to 38 percent in March 2015 from 59 percent in November 2014, while his trust rating dropped to 36 percent from 56 percent for the same period.
The Pulse Asia survey, conducted from March 1 to 7 with 1,200 Filipino adults, also showed a significant rise in the disapproval and distrust towards Aquino.
The number of respondents who expressed disapproval toward the President rose from 11 percent in November to 23 percent, while those who did not trust Aquino increased to 27 percent up from 13 percent in the last quarter of 2014.
Pulse Asia said a notable increase in the President’s disapproval rating was seen in the National Capital Region, up by 24 percentage points (from 17 percent in November 2014 to 41 percent in March).
Among the geographical areas, the rise in distrust was also highest in NCR, up 26 percentage points ( from 17 percent to 43 percent for the same period).
Pulse Asia said this means that one in every four Filipinos “is critical of presidential performance and distrusts him.”
An ally of the President, Senator Francis Escudero, said he believed the President can still redeem himself and recover the trust of Filipinos but warned him against dismissing the latest findings.
“Take it under advisement, move forward and keep on working to improve peace and order, the economy and the quality of life of the people,” Escudero said.
Another ally, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, said “time and good governance will help heal the wounds of distrust.” – With Macon Ramos-Araneta
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