No longer untouchable? Solons speak up on Duterte ratings drop

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 09 2017 05:15 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte. Malacañang Photo

MANILA - Allies of President Rodrigo Duterte in the House of Representatives said Monday they believe the Chief Executive will bounce back from the 18-point plunge in his net satisfaction ratings.

Duterte's net satisfaction rating dropped to a "good" 48 according to a Social Weather Stations survey conducted from September 23 to 27.

Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles said the President is still doing better than his predecessors if the recent numbers are compared to the ratings of previous presidents after their first years in office. 

"Comparatively, he's doing very well if you breakdown in terms of region. He's very popular and well-trusted in Mindanao although merong sa other areas nag-lower siya ng kaunti but Mindanao still remained to be a stronghold for the President," he said in a press conference.

"These are just survey results that would go up and down it's normal for survey results… to fluctuate. It really depends on the political climate, the temperature in those periods but I believe that come the 4th quarter, his numbers will bounce back and if you look at the whole of 2017, if you average it it will still be high level," he added.

Nograles said Duterte's satisfaction rating was above 60 in the first 2 quarters of this year, but it may have dipped in the third quarter due to some "hot topics."

"Third quarter siguro dahil sunod sunod hot topics na lumabas then maybe there was an sort of an adjustment in terms of trust and satisfaction. If you measure, it's trust minus distrust...but if you look at satisfied and trust his trust rating is still above 70," he said.

Although he has yet to see the survey results, Quirino Rep. Dakila Carlo Cua said he remains strong in his belief on Duterte and the vision the leader has for the country.

"I like what the President said or what his outlook on the matter is. He's not concerned about the ratings. When you have to do a difficult job, you have to make difficult decisions sometimes. You shouldn't be worried about ratings that much," he said.

Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel also underscored that the despite the score he got, President Duterte is "very much focused" on his programs, especially his administration's push for infrastructure development.

"This is not a cause for alarm. Masyado naman tayo (na-alarm) pag bumaba ang rating. The President is a working president. I believe he will be able to deliver on his promises. The decreased trust rating is not a cause for alarm as long as the basic services are delivered to our constituents," he said.

CRITICS SPEAK UP

For his part, Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin said the ratings dip shows that Filipinos "are not happy with their president, including myself."

In a statement, the party-list lawmaker urged the President to end the violence, respect democratic institutions and stop the hatred.

He said the drop in Duterte's ratings reflects the "unease and uncertainty of the people" under his administration.

"This is consistent with the people's perception that his war on drugs has targeted the poor and powerless. That business feels uncertain about his policies thus the drop in investments. With protests mounting against his administration he is now on a slippery slope and has to take such sign as a challenge to do good than what is being done now," he said.

"This is a sign that the government should be more serious in listening to the people, and not just to itself. The people are now demanding answers to questions of justice, human rights, and accountability for the whirlwind of past and present atrocities linked to President Duterte made public in the last few months. And once the government fails to answer to the people, the people may arrive at a judgment that the promise of change is not a promise that the Duterte administration can keep," he added.

Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat meanwhile called for sobriety as he said "no Filipino should feel happy for the failures of a President."

"His failures adversely affect all of us. We should feel indignant that his drug war policies continue. We should feel sad for the country that his is a politics of division. We should be alarmed for the people that economic malaise persists," he said.

"But personally, I'm hoping that Malacańang sees the wisdom in what we have been advocating all along and mends its ways," he added.

Baguilat previously said, the truth is "catching up" with Duterte and that more people are starting to "see through the propaganda."

"No matter what it claims, the killings, the lack of action on the economic front are taking their toll on his numbers. On the economic front, serious decline on foreign investment, weakening of peso coupled with increase in oil price, increase in transport fares, increase in price of basic commodities, steep rise in inflation, impending increase in SSS contributions all spell economic downturn," he said.

"Stock market is up but it looks temporary and gains may actually be going out of the country through capital flight. President's constant presence in marawi is all well and good, but looks like no one's minding the store. I am asking the President to muster his poitical capital to do what is right," he added.

MORE BAD NEWS AHEAD?

On Sunday, Duterte critics lost no time in pouncing on the SWS survey result to show that they were right and the President was wrong in his governance.

Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, who filed an impeachment complaint against Duterte, noted that the events leading to the survey included the alleged link of Duterte's eldest son, Paolo, into the smuggling of P6.4-billion worth of drugs; killing of teenager Kian delos Santos during a drug sweep; and the allocation of a P1,000-budget to the Commission on Human Rights.

He added Visayas saw the biggest decline, which may be because of the threat of Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido's assignment in Iloilo. 

"The survey results may be indicative of the decline of support on the war on drugs and the strong opposition on the prevalent human rights violations under the Duterte administration," said the former soldier.

"The results would also bear the continuous decline of Duterte's net satisfaction among Class D or the 'masa' which are the main victims of the selective war on drugs," he added, as he noted that the survey period did not include the Ombudsman's probe into the Duterte family's wealth.

Alejano said Duterte's satisfaction rating could decline further following the alleged "political persecution" of the President's critics including Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales. 

"I think that we could expect further decline in Duterte's satisfaction ratings in the upcoming surveys as more issues come into light, including the Ombudsman investigation on the hidden wealth of the Duterte family, political persecution of Duterte's critics particularly of Chief Justice Sereno and Ombudsman Morales, and obvious inaction of the administration on the continuous Chinese incursions and harrassment in the West Philippine Sea."

Although the surveys do not reflect everyone's sentiments, Alejano said they offer a "good sounding board for the government to review and adjust its policies especially if they are detrimental to the welfare and interests of the public."

"The Duterte administration must listen to the clamor of the people," he said.

Gabriela Party List Rep. Emmy de Jesus said the people are "seeing through the hype and fake news, and are realizing that change is not coming under President Duterte's watch."

De Jesus cited the "soaring prices of practically all commodities, nonstop extrajudicial killings, failure to end contractualization, failure to solve the Marawi crisis despite the imposition of Mindanao-wide martial law, and the unresolved Customs shabu smuggling issue."

"In fact, PRRD's reign in the Palace for more than a year made the lives of the majority of Filipinos worse than before," she said.

ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio said, the SWS survey broke the "myth" of Duterte's popularity that he is "untouchable."

"Nalantad na ang kahungkagan ng kanyang pangakong pagbabago; ang brutalidad ng kanyang mga gera kontra droga at kontra sa mga rebelde, na bunibiktima sa maralita sa kalunsuran at kanayunan; at ang hagupit ng kanyang mga economic policies, na pumapabor sa ilang mayaman a dayuhan habang hindi nagbibigay ng trabaho at serbisyo sa maralita. Lalo pa itong bubulusok sa pagsisikap niyang supilin ang mga imbestigasyon sa umano'y nakatagong kayamanan niya at ng kanyang pamilya; pagpapatuloy ng extra-judicial killings; at pagpapatupad ng mga kontra-mahirap na patakaran laluna ang kanyang tax reform," he said.

Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice said the ratings drop should serve as a "wake up call" to Duterte as it signals that it is time for him to also listen to his critics, especially regarding the war on drugs.

"It already [was] a cause of embarrassment not only here but all over the world. The war on drugs is a losing proposition. It is doomed to fail as similar template had been tried by many, many countries and the results were the same: failure, police brutality and impunity and the collateral damage of innocent civilians," he said.