PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd should see the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey results that show public satisfaction with his leadership and performance dropping to its lowest point “as a portent of things to come.”
Even the President’s personal friend and political ally, Sen. Francis Escudero, minced no words in warning his wedding “best man” not to take the survey results lightly.
“That is what the survey said. It’s a snap shot of what people think and feel at a given point in time. The Palace should not simply brush it aside and ignore it,” he told The Manila Times on Monday.
Escudero said Malacañang should “accept [the results]and take [them]under advisement.”
The survey was conducted almost two months after a police mission to capture international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, left over 60 people, including 44 police commandos from the Special Action Force (SAF), dead.
A political firestorm that followed the incident continues to buffet the Aquino administration.
Clarita Carlos, a political science professor at the University of the Philippines, told BusinessWorld, which commissioned the survey, that the drop could be attributed to the government’s response to the Mamasapano incident.
Aquino has been heavily criticized for refusing to take accountability for the bungled operation and for pinning all the blame on the now-sacked SAF commander, Getulio Napeñas.
The SWS survey, which polled 1,200 respondents, was conducted from March 20 to 23. The survey involved face-to-face interviews with 1,200 adults and had a margin of error of plus-or-minus three percentage points.
It showed that President Aquino obtained a net satisfaction rating of a “moderate” +11 (those satisfied minus unsatisfied), from “good” +39 from December 2014.
Public satisfaction on the Aquino administration dropped 35 points from +47 rating it obtained from the same period last year.
Despite the plunge, only 32 percent were supportive of calls for his resignation.
The poll said 50 percent still support the Aquino administration while 18 percent remain undecided.
The President’s satisfaction rating nosedived in all geographic areas and socioeconomic classes.
Blame the media
A Malacañang spokesman also on Monday blamed the media, saying coverage of the Mamasapano incident and its aftermath contributed to the dip in Aquino’s satisfaction rating.
“A significant factor which contributed to the decline in the satisfaction rating of the President is the Mamasapano clash. We also recognize that public opinion surveys are based on information from the media being read and consumed by the people. In our view, it is mainly media-related,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in Filipino.
Coloma went on to appeal to the media to report “correct and truthful information.”
“We are hoping that through disseminating correct and truthful information, Filipinos can thoroughly understand the position of the government,” he said.
Moreover, Malacañang sees the SWS survey results as an “improvement”.
“While there has been a decline in the President’s satisfaction rating, it is evident that a higher number of Filipinos affirm their belief in his leadership and outnumber those who are dissatisfied or prefer that he resign from office,” Coloma said.
“There is also a significant segment that is undecided about his performance and about his resignation. This represents an opportunity for reaching out to those who are undecided or ambivalent in their sentiments toward the President and the administration and eventually winning them over,” he added.
Coloma noted that the survey was taken three weeks after Pulse Asia conducted its own survey.
In that survey, Aquino is no longer the most trusted top government official as his trust ratings nosedived to 36 percent in March from 56 percent last November.
“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 than the performance approval rating that he obtained in the Pulse Asia survey,” Coloma said.
Danilo Arao, associate professor of journalism at UP Diliman, said the decline in Aquino’s net satisfaction rating is a reflection of the people’s growing discontent with how the government is being run.
“If the President and the government do not shape up, the undecided could end up being part of the dissatisfied and could further boost the campaign for the President’s ouster,” he told The Manila Times.
“It is true that only 32 percent want the President to resign but the undecided 18 percent cannot be ignored.
“That there are 50 percent of survey respondents who disagree with the proposal for resignation does not mean that they automatically agree with the policies and programs of the administration. Again, the undecided will play a major role here. The campaign for meaningful change obviously does not happen overnight and it takes time for public opinion to favor anything that would disrupt the order of things, which is what we expect in the event of a President’s removal from office. However, we have a long history of ‘disruptions’ and the recent SWS results should be seen as a portent of things to come,” Arao said.
Why rock the boat
Dr. Isagani Cruz, president of The Manila Times College, meanwhile, said Filipinos “just don’t want to be bothered” hence, the reason why half of the respondents don’t want Aquino to resign.
“Since there are 14 months to go, why rock the boat? It’s too much trouble. If we replace him now, if he resigns, we have to get used to a new president. [Filipinos are like that], they just don’t want to be bothered. It’s too much trouble for us to get used to a new President, a new Cabinet, a new everything. And the President wants to serve only until 2016 anyway, why not just wait? [Let’s just be patient with him]. Which was what he asked for. He said, “I ask for your understanding.” Which in Filipino means, “Pasensya na po [Bear with me].”