Honeymoon period over, Duterte told

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CRITICS of President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday called for a stop to extrajudicial killings and a rethink of the war on drugs following the 18-point drop in the Chief Executive’s net satisfaction rating.

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“If the huge decline of the President’s ratings is an indication of anything, it is this: HONEYMOON IS OVER,” the Tindig Pilipinas multi-sector coalition said in a statement.

“The significant drop in the President’s numbers is expected because while his government was focused on killing the poor and balkanizing our democratic institutions, his administration has miserably failed to deliver on his promises – peace in Mindanao, housing, solutions to traffic, end to [contractual jobs], employment, among others,” it added.

The group reiterated its call for the President to sign a waiver to allow a probe into his bank accounts as the people “expect nothing but the truth on the allegations of corruption, ill-gotten wealth, and drug smuggling facilitation leveled against him and members of his family.”

Malacañang Palace was unperturbed by the drop in the President’s net satisfaction rating in the quarterly Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey to +48 in September from +66 in June.

“The love is still there,” Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella told reporters.

“The change…is expected given the fact that people start measuring their expectations usually after the honeymoon period, or after a year in office,” he said.

“Despite this public satisfaction remains ‘good’ and public trust remains ‘very good.’ It is worth noting that surveys are snapshots of the public mood at a given time and the SWS survey was conducted between September 23-27, just two days after the National Day of Protest – the bold (Duterte) initiative allowing citizens to freely vent their grievances about the excesses and shortcomings of the government – and some sentiments may have spilled over,” he added.

‘Wakeup call’

Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, who was at Senate for a budget hearing, declined to comment, saying, “Budget na lang muna, sorry (Let’s talk about the budget instead, sorry).”

Senators from the majority and minority blocs agreed that the drop in the ratings of President Duterte was a “wake up call” for the government to seriously address corruption, poverty, and police impunity.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the President’s ratings decline was “self-inflicted,” arising from unresolved issues on corruption and extra-judicial killings of suspected drug personalities.

He said the government “must better take a second look at their policies and the way they enforce their policies.”

Sen. Francis Pangilinan said that the decline in the popularity rating of Mr. Duterte was expected as the administration had been embroiled in corruption scandals such as smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of shabu from China; the alleged involvement of the “Davao group,” including the President’s son Paolo Duterte, in smuggling; and the extra-judicial killings of minors by abusive policemen.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes, one of the President’s fiercest critics, said: “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,” the former Navy captain said.

‘Constructive challenge’

Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino 4th said the drop in President Duterte’s approval and trust ratings “should serve as wake-up call for the Philippine National Police (PNP) to rethink its strategy for the drug war and address the killings in our communities.”

PNP Chief Ronald de la Rosa said in a news conference: “We will do our best to improve and will do our best to satisfy the public.”

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said the Executive branch should not become complacent. “I encourage the President and his administration to view these survey results as a constructive challenge to do more for the Filipino people,” he said.

“Corruption, poverty, and police impunity are three important issues in particular which deserve more attention from the executive branch,” he said.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said the drop in the ratings of the President was “bound to happen sooner or later.”

“The excitement and adulation that a new leader gets after getting his fresh mandate normally dissipate the moment the people start seeing some predictability in his brand of leadership,” said Lacson, a former PNP chief.

Gatchalian noted that based on historical data, presidents usually experience a dip in trust and approval ratings after their first year in office.

“It’s just a part of the cycle of politics, and it shouldn’t be a cause for concern in Malacañang,” he said.

with  BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO

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