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How low will Duterte’s numbers go?

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By Leandro DD Coronel

Leandro DD Coronel

Leandro DD Coronel

President Duterte’s approval ratings are down significantly.

His people are putting on a brave face but they must be worried. Indeed, some of them are trying to come up with their own surveys to show that their boss is still popular.

Actually, Mr. Duterte is still popular, he got a “good” rating. But the numbers that made him gloat before are gone.

Duterte was always proud of the 80-percent ratings he was getting in his early days. He was the toast of many parts of the country. People believed he would liberate them from the clutches of politicians who were out to enrich themselves but not their constituents.

But surveys can only stay up if government serves up results and not just rhetoric. In more than one year in office, Duterte hasn’t shown many tangible results.

His out-of-this-world boasts during the campaign and in the beginning of his term have all proved to be nothing but what the British call “damp squibs,” wet firecrackers.

There was the jet-ski boast about planting the Philippine flag in the Spratlys to defy China. There was the boast about eliminating drugs and crime in three to six months. There was the elimination of the Abu Sayyaf and Maute Group in one week.

No jet-ski ride, the “war” on drugs is unwon after more than one year, the Abu Sayyaf is still sowing terror, and the war against the Mautes in Marawi City is unfinished.

What Mr. Duterte should have concentrated on is creating jobs for the people, especially the poor. People need jobs, not bullets flying in their communities at night.

Yes, illegal drugs must be eliminated to lessen crime in neighborhoods. But what people would like to see are jobs beckoning at them and not their neighbors falling right in front of them, dead from policemen’s bullets.

I’m surprised Mr. Duterte’s economic managers haven’t done their boss a big favor by creating more jobs, enough to cut down the unemployment numbers drastically. Jobs must be created in the industrial and agricultural sectors where jobs and products multiply and commodities are produced in greater quantities.

Shooting people down in the middle of the night only produces anguish and, as we’re seeing from the surveys, fear and disappointment because poverty continues to stalk the land.

So now the government must contend with the people’s growing unhappiness with its performance. Mr. Duterte’s people talk about “love” for the President still being around and that the “honeymoon” may be over. They can say what they want but numbers don’t lie. There is growing dissatisfaction over the President’s performance and palliative words won’t change that.

Back to the drawing board they go and ask questions about their marketing strategy. What have they been doing wrong? What needs to be done to assuage the people’s feelings and perception about their performance?

Actually, it’s not a hard question to answer. What the people are looking for are tangible results, like jobs, better living conditions, easier commuting, and less crime (who believes the police when they say the crime rate is down when people see killings and other crimes in the news everyday?).

Many Filipinos enjoyed hearing the kind of crude rhetoric that was coming out of Mr. Duterte’s mouth in the early months of his term. But rhetoric must come with results. Without results, people will balk, complain and speak out. Sooner or later, that will show in the surveys.

***

Tantrum Ergo. The guardians of justice and democracy are being besieged and threatened with expulsion from office. The people must open their eyes and not allow the remaining dissenters around to be either muzzled or shunted aside.

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