Officials and commentators of all kinds have had their say these past few days on the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showing a big drop in the satisfaction and trust ratings of President Duterte.
As may be expected, administration critics stressed the negative side of the survey findings, while loyalists minimized the drop, pointed out the positive angle, and predicted a rebound in the next survey. The fact is that there is something for everyone in the survey findings.
Between the June and the September surveys, there was a drop of 18 points in the President’s net satisfaction rating – from 66 to 48 percent. There was also a drop of 15 points – from 75 to 60 percent – in his trust rating. But the latest satisfaction rating is still considered “good” by the SWS and the trust rating is still “very good.”
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella pointed out that all presidents’ ratings have traditionally dropped after the first year in office. The people generally make allowances for the new president in the “honeymoon period.” The honeymoon period may be over, “but the love is still here,” Abella said.
But opposition quarters stress that the drop, while expected at this time of the year, was faster than the average drop for previous presidents. The decline in satisfaction and trust was in all sectors, with the most precipitous fall – by 32 points – in satisfaction in Class E, the poorest class in Philippine society and long considered the mass base of President Duterte.
Some pundits believe this may be due to the perception that most of those who have fallen in the nationwide anti-drugs campaign, as carried out by the Philippine National Police (PNP), were poor folk. President Duterte has now ordered in a memorandum signed Oct. 10, that all anti-drug operations will henceforth be led by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), with the PNP only in a supportive capacity.
This first year of the administration has been concentrated, it seems, on the anti-drugs campaign. It is indeed a tremendous problem that merits the all-out efforts of the government to eradicate it for the future of the nation’s youth. But other problems also call for the government’s attention, most notably the age-old problem of widespread poverty.
The drop in ratings may thus be also related to the unfulfilled expectations of so many poor folk for a better life through more employment, more and cheaper food on the table, and better government services such as in mass transportation. The “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program is thus anxiously being awaited for the massive government spending may well stimulate the national economy in a way that will touch the lives of the poor.
The campaigns against drugs, against corruption, for more independent foreign policy, for closer ties with our neighbors are all important. But the government should start focusing on long-awaited reforms and programs that will have a direct effect on the everyday lives of the people, especially the poor. This could be what the people want to tell the government with their responses to the recent SWS survey.