MANILA (UPDATED) – Malacañang officials on Monday admitted that the drop in the net satisfaction and trust ratings of President Rodrigo Duterte is to be expected given that the so-called “honeymoon period” of the government with the public only lasts about a year.
The September Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed that Duterte’s net satisfaction rating fell to +48 (good) from last quarter's +66 (very good), while his net trust rating fell to +60 (very good) from +75 (excellent).
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the President’s ratings may have dropped since people may have started measuring their expectations on the Duterte administration after the “honeymoon period”.
Abella, nonetheless, noted that despite the drop, majority of the people continue to trust the President and express satisfaction with his work.
"[Given] the trust and confidence of a large majority, the administration will continue to work harder to address the public’s urgent needs in order to bring a comfortable life for all,” Abella said in a news conference in Malacañang on Monday.
"These things usually happen. This is traditionally happening after a year, a year and a half, and you know, the love is still there," he added.
Palace Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, for his part, said the drop in the President's ratings should serve as a reminder for the administration to work harder on fulfilling its promises to the public.
"Alam mo naman ang honeymoon period ng ating Pangulo ay usually one year sa isang opisina at ito nama'y expected, the fact na tapos na iyong one year, pero despite this ay nasa good pa rin ang kanyang satisfaction at iyong public trust ay nasa very good,” he said in a radio interview.
"Ito po ay magsisilbing gabay pa rin sa administrasyon na talagang tumutok sa trabaho, sa reporma at pagbabago para maibsan ang kahirapan ng ating mga kababayan and of course to be able to also use this as a barometer para sa mga susunod na hakbang ng ating administrasyon," he added.
Andanar attributed the decline in the President’s ratings to the fierce criticism he received from the political opposition and international media.
"Alam naman natin na wala talagang ganoong ka-aggressive na oposisyon during that time and we also have to consider that during the time of President Aquino na hindi rin ganoon ka aggressive iyong international media,” Andanar said in another radio interview.
TEENAGERS’ KILLINGS TRIGGERED DROP
In a separate interview, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said he expected the drop in Duterte's ratings following the deaths of teenagers Kian Delos Santos and Carl Arnaiz allegedly at the hands of the police.
"I kind of expected that due to the incidents involving the minors, Kian, and two others. So there was really a reaction from certain sectors of the public," Panelo told ANC.
Despite the drop in satisfaction and trust ratings, Panelo said President Duterte remains "unperturbed" and that the drug war will not slow down.
"During the Cabinet meeting the other day, he said that, 'if they think I will withdraw from this war on drugs, then they're guessing wrong.' He will not desist from what he's done and doing," he said.
The President has vowed justice for both Delos Santos and Arnaiz, while authorities continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding De Guzman’s death.
Official government numbers show 3,811 drug personalities were killed in anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016 to August 29, 2017. Government data also said there were 6,225 drug-related killings from July 2016 and September 2017.
Abella also noted that the survey was conducted days after the national day of protest, where Duterte allowed citizens to “freely vent their grievances about the excesses and shortcomings of the government.” The protest actions tackled the killings of the teenagers and other controversial policies of the Duterte administration.
“There was a full spectrum of emotions out there, and some of these could have spilled over,” Abella said.
‘GOV’T ACCEPTS CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM’
In his interview, Andanar said he hopes that the public mood will change and the President will regain his lost popularity once people realize the efforts being made by the administration.
He cited the President’s approval of the free tuition in state universities and colleges, the government’s settlements with Mighty Corporation and Philippine Airlines, and the recovery of the Mile Long property, among others.
Andanar stressed that the government accepts constructive criticism, saying the latest SWS survey should serve as a “lighthouse” for the administration.
“We also encourage constructive criticism, because it is the only way for us in government to focus on our job and para mapaalala din - kami sa gobyerno - na kung ano iyong mga dapat naming gawin para mas lalo kaming maging in tune with the sentiment of the people,” he said.
Andanar also vouched for the integrity of the SWS, even as some supporters of Duterte online have resorted to attacking the unfavorable results of the survey.
“We respect SWS and we know the SWS is scientific. Like what I mentioned, surveys are the snapshot of a particular given time,” he said.
DUTERTE SUFFERS DROP IN RATINGS AMONG THE MASSES
One of the significant findings in the the September 2017 SWS is the huge drop of Duterte’s satisfaction rating among the masses, who are perceived by the government’s critics to be on the losing end of the President’s war on drugs.
SWS noted that the net satisfaction rating of Duterte stayed at the "very good" classification among Classes A, B, and C with +57, while it fell one grade below, from "very good" to "good”, among the Class D and E with +49 and +35, respectively.
The survey shows 67 percent of the respondents are satisfied with Duterte's performance, an 11-point dip from the 78 percent he got last June 2017, with 19 percent saying they are dissatisfied, which is 7 more points from the last survey and 14 percent saying they are undecided.
Meanwhile, 73 percent of the respondents said they have “much trust” with Duterte and 12 percent said they have “little trust”. In the previous quarter’s survey, 82 percent said they have “much trust” with the President and 7 percent said they have “little trust”.
The President's net satisfaction rating from June 2017 to September 2017 fell by 30 points in the Visayas, 22 points in Balance Luzon, and 19 points in Metro Manila, while it remained steady in Mindanao.
Abella downplayed the view that the drug war has led to the erosion of confidence with the President among masses. He believes it had something to do more with the ability of the government to deliver on its promises to bring a better life to the country’s poorest.
“I believe what is really necessary is to be able to deliver on the services that have been promised, especially to those that are affected. And the most affected are obviously the ones on the Ds and the Es,” Abella said.
“[The] people are still expecting that rise, that the economic shift that will put more food on the table. It’s basically…a matter of expectation.”
The SWS survey was done as the government was receiving heavy criticism for its war on drugs following the deaths of several teenagers in questionable police operations.
The government has many times defended Duterte’s war on drugs, which has claimed the lives of about 3,800 people in legitimate police operations. Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano recently said these slain people were all drug peddlers.
The Philippine National Police also recently said that there are no cases of extrajudicial killings yet in the country since Duterte assumed power.