MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino’s satisfaction ratings have gone up even more, boosted largely by the public’s positive response to the government’s signing of a framework peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), results of a recent survey showed.
The Issues and Advocacy Center (The Center) survey also showed high satisfaction scores for the country’s three other top officials.
In the survey, conducted from Sept. 29 to Oct. 17, Aquino obtained a net satisfaction rating of 49 percent or up by four percentage points from the third quarter figure.
“The increment was largely traced to the positive response to the framework agreement that was signed between the Philippine government and the MILF,” Ed Malay, The Center head, said. “Notwithstanding the high poverty situation and unemployment rates, the ongoing conflict with China over the Kalayaan Islands (in the West Philippine Sea), the signing of the peace agreement provided President Aquino with a relief from the effects of the other issues on his governance,” he said.
Malay also said the anti-corruption campaign of the administration as well as its management of the economy “have provided some positive responses for the Aquino administration in these areas of concern,” he added.
The same survey showed Vice President Jejomar Binay garnering the highest rating among the top four officials – at 57 percent. However, the figure is eight points lower than the third quarter’s 65 percent.
Binay got his highest rating at the National Capital Region at 77 percent followed by Mindanao, 72 percent; the rest of Luzon, 71 percent; and Visayas, 68 percent.
“As expected, (Binay) made his presence felt among the survey respondents in the ‘D’ and ‘E’ classes with 64 percent and 52 percent, respectively,” Malay said.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s satisfaction rating, on the other hand, dropped to 43 percent from the previous 47 percent. The Center provided no explanation for the drop.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. obtained a satisfaction rating of 20 percent, up one point from the previous quarter. His score is considered the highest ever earned by a speaker in recent years.
The survey was conducted through face-to-face interviews with 1,200 respondents.
For opposition leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, it’s Aquino’s media handlers and not his sincerity or performance that should be credited for his high performance rating.
“Magaling ang kanyang media handling, saludo ako sa kanyang media handlers (The President’s media handling is good, I take my hat off to his media handlers),” Suarez told reporters.
“Kung sino man sila (Whoever they are), we have to acknowledge their skill and performance. They are able to have many adverse stories sidelined and not discussed,” Suarez said.
At the start of his term in July 2010, Aquino appointed three officials with Cabinet rank as his principal spokespersons.
They are Herminio Coloma, who heads the Presidential Communications Operations Office; former broadcaster Ricky Carandang, who heads the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office; and Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda.
The three Cabinet members speak for Aquino and deal with the press. All three have their respective budgets. They are the equivalent of the press secretary of previous administrations.
In addition to the three, Aquino brought with him to the Palace his media staff during his Senate days.
Suarez claimed that the President’s media handlers are able to manipulate information or employ diversionary tactics. During martial law, he said the Marcos regime controlled the press.
“Sec. Greg Cendaña was very good then,” he said, referring to Marcos’ information minister. “During those days, they could tell the media, ‘This is what we want published.’ Ngayon naman, walang puwersahan, pero magaling silang manggapang ng news na gusto nilang ipalabas (Now there is no coercion, but they can make stories come out the way they wish),” he said.
But Aquino would often publicly chide the media for what he perceived as their penchant for playing up the bad news like criminality, instead of feel-good stories. – With Jess Diaz