MANILA (1st UPDATE) - President Aquino received his lowest approval and trust ratings yet after nearly five years in office as his administration continues to receive backlash for the Mamasapano tragedy.
The survey, conducted last March 1-7, 2015, showed the President's approval rating dropping from 59% in November 2014 to only 38% in March 2015, a drop of 21 percentage points.
A total of 23 percent of Filipinos now disapprove of the President's performance, compared to only 11% in November 2014.
Those undecided with Aquino's performance also rose, from 30% in November to 39% this month.
Trust in the President has also dropped precipitously. The President's trust ratings dropped from 56% in November 2014 to 36% in March 2015, a decline of 20 percentage points.
Distrust in the President rose by 14 percentage points, from 13% in November to 27% in March.
Those who are undecided on whether or not they trust the President also rose by six percentage points, from 31% in November to 37% in March.
Pulse Asia said the President's approval and trust ratings eroded in all geographic areas and socioeconomic classes. It said criticism for presidential performance "becomes more manifest in Metro Manila (+24 percentage points) and Class D (+13 percentage points) while distrust becomes more marked in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon (+25 and +12 percentage points) and Classes ABC and D (+21 and +16 percentage points, respectively)."
A total of 1,200 representative adults participated in the survey. The survey has a ± 3% error margin at the 95% confidence level.
RATINGS DROP SIGNIFICANT, BELOW MAJORITY - HOLMES
In an interview, Pulse Asia president Prof. Ronnie Holmes said the drop in the President's approval and trust ratings is significant.
"It is significant. From survey to survey, anything that goes beyond 6 percentage points is quite significant a change," he told ANC's Dateline Philippines.
He said the latest survey shows an increase in disapproval and distrust ratings of the President, with 2 out of 10 Filipinos saying they are "not appreciative" of the President's performance while 3 out of 10 Filipinos admit they do not trust the President.
Holmes said the President's approval and trust ratings in the National Capital Region have been lower than majority since November 2014 and declined even further in March.
It is in Metro Manila that the President has the lowest approval and trust ratings, with only 3 out of 10 Pinoys in NCR approving of the President's performance and 2 out of 10 saying they trust Aquino.
Holmes said the President's approval and trust ratings are now below majority across all areas in the country. Among socioeconomic classes, he said it is in classes ABC and D that showed decrease in the President's ratings and increase in disapproval and distrust.
The Pulse Asia president said Aquino had also suffered drops in approval and trust ratings in previous surveys but never below majority ratings. He said Aquino suffered a decline in ratings before the March 2013 and right after the Supreme Court decision on the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program of Malacanang.
In both cases, he said Aquino "did not slide down to below majority approval."
He also confirmed that news on the killings of 44 Special Action Force commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January 25 dominated headlines in the weeks immediately prior to and during the conduct of the field interviews for the survey.
MAMASAPANO IS PNOY'S 'HELLO GARCI'
News headlines that came out before the Pulse Asia survey include the President's absence during the arrival honors for the Fallen 44, two TV addresses of the President and the National Day of Mourning for the slain commandos.
"This is what grabbed headlines and affected public opinion," he said.
Holmes compared the decline in Aquino's ratings to a similar drop in the approval and trust ratings of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo right after the "Hello, Garci" wiretapping scandal in 2005.
"The first time we saw that was when we were polling the approval and trust ratings of President Arroyo. soon after the so-called 'Hello, Garci' scandal," he said.
A Pulse Asia survey conducted in July 2005 showed that people's disapproval of President Arroyo reached as high as 58 percent, compared to only 46 percent a month earlier and 34 percent in March 2005.
Distrust in President Arroyo also rose to 59 percent in July 2005, up from 53% in June 2005 and 33% in March 2005.
President Aquino has come under fire for the Mamasapano mission after it was learned that he conferred with then suspended Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima about the Mamasapano mission despite the latter's suspension. Aquino has blamed former SAF commander Getulio Napenas Jr. for the Mamasapano tragedy, saying the SAF commander disobeyed his order to inform the Armed Forces of the mission.
Napenas, however, countered that it was Purisima himself who said that he will inform Armed Forces chief of staff Gregorio Catapang about the Mamasapano mission to neutralize Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan.
A PNP Board of Inquiry report has said all three officials - President Aquino, PNP chief Alan Purisima and SAF commander Getulio Napenas - broke the chain of command. It also said Oplan: Exodus was flawed from the beginning.
Purisima has resigned as PNP chief while Napenas has been replaced.