MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte's high approval rating in a recent opinion poll is due to Filipinos' debt of gratitude for his pandemic response and their desire for a "strong leader," Malacañang said Tuesday.
The administration distributed a "record-breaking" P200-billion cash aid during the health crisis, on top of assistance under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program and the small business subsidy program, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
"Napakalaki talagang halaga na galing sa kaban ng bayan ang ibinigay natin sa ating mga kababayan sa panahon ng pandemya. Ang Pilipino, napakagaling po iyang tumanaw ng utang na loob," he told TeleRadyo.
(The amount from public coffers that we gave to our compatriots during the pandemic is very high. Filipinos are good in returning their debt of gratitude.)
"Pangalawa po, psychologically, sa panahon ng pandemya, gusto nilang tumingala sa isang leader na malakas. Ayaw nila iyong wishy-washy, kumbaga. Gusto nila, isang direksyon lang at ibinigay na nila iyong pananampalataya nila sa lider nila na gagawin ang dapat gawin," he added.
(Second, psychologically, in a time of a pandemic, they want to look up to a strong leader. They do not want someone who is wishy-washy. They want a sole direction and they gave their faith to a leader who will do what is needed to be done.)
The public also knows that Duterte is "focused" on the pandemic, he said.
"Si Presidente naman, talagang totoo iyan. Wala iyang manufactured charisma, wala 'yang manufactured personality,” said Roque.
(The President is sincere. He does not have a manufactured charisma, a manufactured personality.)
A Pulse Asia survey released Monday showed the approval ratings of Duterte and Robredo at 91 percent and 57 percent, respectively, in September.
The COVID-19 pandemic has stricken over 324,000 in the Philippines as of Monday, the country with the highest incidence in Southeast Asian despite having one of the longest lockdowns in the world.
Government is counting on a vaccine to put a stop to the virus spread.