THE involvement of policemen in the killing of teenagers pulled down President Rodrigo Duterte’s satisfaction and trust ratings, presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo said Monday.
“Well I kind [of] expected that because of the incidents involving the minors…” Panelo said in an interview on Unang Balita.
Panelo was referring to the killings of teenagers Kian Loyd delos Santos, Carl Angelo Arnaiz and Reynaldo de Guzman, all killed by Caloocan City policemen last August.
But Duterte’s legal counsel said the latest survey results of the Social Weather Stations showed the president still enjoyed the support of millions of Filipinos.
“But you know, if you would translate the percentage [of the] survey in relation to the population of the Philippines, there is a huge difference, he got 60 percent? That would be roughly 67-million Filipinos,” he said.
Malacañang itself said Filipinos continued to love Duterte despite the double-digit drop in his net satisfaction and trust ratings which they admitted were “affected” by the continuing spate of unresolved killings as a result of the bloody drug war.
In a Palace news briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella admitted the “honeymoon period” was over, “given the fact that people start measuring their expectations” about the administration a full year after Duterte took office.
These things usually happen, Abella said.
“This is traditionally happening after a year, a year-and-a-half, and you know, the love is still there,” he claimed, adding public satisfaction remained “good” and public trust remained “very good.”
The Palace spokesman, however, said the drop in ratings might have been a result of the National Day of Protests against the Duterte administration.
“I’m sure there was a full spectrum of emotions out there, and some of these could have spilled over,” Abella said.
In the Senate, opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV Monday said Filipinos “are beginning to see the light,” following the drop in Duterte’s net satisfaction score based on the latest Social Weather Stations survey.
“It’s very encouraging to know that the Filipino people are beginning to see the light. They are now seeing Duterte for who he really is: a lying, rude, amoral, corrupt and oppressive former mayor who is totally incompetent about governance at the national level,” Trillanes said in a statement.
“Worse, his bloody war on drugs has killed thousands of his own people and created a climate of fear across the country,” added Trillanes.
Trillanes said he expected the next survey results “to be worse” as the recent SWS conducted September 23 to 27 was done before the Ombudsman said it was investigating the President’s bank accounts.
On several occasions, Trillanes had accused Duterte of amassing Ill-gotten wealth amounting to P2 billion stashed in banks from September 2006 to December 2015.
He even challenged the President to sign a waiver on the bank secrecy law to disprove his allegations of unexplained wealth.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon attributed the decline in Duterte’s satisfaction and trust ratings to “self-inflicted” issues as he advised the Chief Executive to review his government’s policies.
“I will not pass judgment until the next one or two surveys because that will show the trend,” Drilon said in an interview.
“The government must better take a second look at their policies and the way they enforce their policies…” he added.
Senator Risa Hontiveros said the survey was an ominous warning due to the deep and widening rumblings of discontent across different social classes all over the country with the rampant killings, fake news and numerous accusations of corruption.
She noted that Duterte’s authoritarian style of governance was losing its appeal and support among the public.
Hontiveros said: “The writing on the wall is simple and clear: President Duterte cannot govern based on fear, lies and killings. He cannot govern outside the rule of law and with total disregard for human rights and expect no consequences.
“He cannot brag about cleaning the government of corruption when he himself cannot substantially and convincingly satisfy the public’s demand for an explanation of his undeclared bank accounts.”
She added: “I reiterate my call to the President to stop his bloody war on drugs that has killed thousands, including innocent minors. I also join the growing public clamor for President Duterte to fully explain the issues surrounding his alleged bank records.”
Another opposition senator, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, said the drop in Duterte’s approval and trust ratings should serve as wake-up call for the Philippine National Police to rethink its strategy for the drug war and address the killings in our communities.
While the SWS did not give any explanation for the decline, Aquino believes that investigations that looked into the killings, especially of teenagers Kian delos Santos, Carl Arnaiz and Reynaldo de Guzman, affected the Chief Executive’s survey ratings.
In a previous interview, Aquino said the minority senators would move for the slashing of the P900-million Tokhang budget during the amendment period for the 2018 national budget.
Even senators who are allies of the President believe the Duterte administration should take the recent survey ratings as a “wake-up call.”
Senator Francis Escudero, in a text message, said the administration should take it as a wake-up call and, hopefully, be less nonchalant, arrogant and cavalier especially on the part of some Cabinet and police officials.
“It’s a reminder to sitting officials that nothing is permanent, everything is fleeting and will come to an end soon enough, whether its survey numbers or their incumbency,” he added.
Senator Panfilo Lacson said Malacañang should worry about this decline because, normally, “we have seen single digits drop.”
Lacson added: “But this time it’s not only double digit, it’s more than 15 percent. So that’s something they should consider when they do their messaging.
“A lot has to do with messaging and the department in the past 1.5 years or so, the President was sort of carefree. It seemed he didn’t care at all if his pronouncements will be hit, his statements were that bold.”
But Senator Win Gatchalian said historical data showed that presidents usually experienced a dip in trust and approval ratings after their first year in office.
He said it was just a part of the cycle of politics, and it should not be a cause for concern in Malacañang.
“What is clear in the survey results is that the Filipino people continue to trust the President and approve of his performance, despite the ratings dip,” he said.
Gatchalian added: “I encourage the President and his administration to view these survey results as a constructive challenge to do more for the Filipino people.
“Corruption, poverty, and police impunity are three important issues in particular which deserve more attention from the executive branch.”
In the House of Representatives, lawmakers played down Duterte’s 18-point drop in the SWS survey.
Reps. Karlo Alexei Nograles of Davao City, Rodolfo Albano of Isabela and Robert Ace Barbers of Surigao del Norte said the latest results of the SWS survey on the President was not a cause for alarm.
“I think we shouldn’t be worried because if we break down the [Social Weather Stations] survey results, putting it in context and considering the satisfaction and trust ratings of previous presidents in previous administrations, President Duterte is still doing very well,” Nograles, chair of the House committee on appropriations, said.
“While there was obviously a drop in net satisfaction and trust numbers, the difference is not that huge especially when viewed from the standpoint of gross figures instead of net figures,” he said.
Duterte recorded a gross satisfaction rating of 67 percent in September, while his gross trust rating was higher at 73 percent.
As far as Nograles is concerned: “That is certainly not bad given the challenges that President Duterte has faced recently, particularly the extended war against the Maute terror group in Marawi and the declaration of martial law which he had no choice but to maintain in Mindanao.”
Albano, majority leader for the House contingent’s Commission on Appointments, said “There is nothing that he cannot handle. The President himself is not interested in popularity or ratings.”
Barbers said the SWS survey result was “not a big deal” for the president.
“It proves that the President is working very hard and has been in the consciousness of the people [that he is doing a lot for the Filipino people,” said Barbers, chairperson of the House committee on dangerous drugs.
“He cannot please everybody so the fluctuations in his ratings only speak of a very alive and vibrant democracy contrary to the opinion of others that there is a tyrant in Malacanang.”
Based on the latest SWS survey, Duterte’s net satisfaction rating dropped 18 points, from +66 last June to +48 in September.
Duterte’s net trust rating also declined, from an “excellent” +75 to “very good” +60.
The survey was conducted from September 23 to 27, more than a month after the killing of the three teenagers.