ASIA NEWS NETWORK
WE KNOW ASIA BETTER
Aquino’s net satisfaction rating falls
Publication Date : 15-10-2013
Malacanang acknowledges that the public outrage over the pork barrel scam has dragged down Philippine President Benigno Aquino III’s satisfaction ratings.
“While an overwhelming majority of Filipinos remain supportive of the President and his agenda, we recognise that the increase in those dissatisfied reflects the depth of anger and disappointment of the people at the way public funds have been stolen,” the President’s deputy spokesperson, Abigail Valte, said in a briefing on Monday.
Valte said that while the President was not involved in any illicit transfer of pork to bogus nongovernment organisations (NGOs) that businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles had set up, “we do recognise that there is a general outrage about how these funds have been spent or how these funds have been misused, and some of that may be directed again to the present administration.”
Aquino’s net satisfaction rating fell from “very good” to “good” in September, with declines across all areas, socioeconomic classes and gender, according to the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey.
The results of the survey, which were first published in BusinessWorld, showed 68 per cent of respondents to be satisfied and 19 per cent dissatisfied, resulting in a net score of “good” at +49 (satisfied minus dissatisfied).
The latest net score represented a 15-point dip from the June figure of +64 (76 per cent satisfied, 12 per cent dissatisfied), which SWS rated as “very good”. The September rating, however, is still higher than the record low of +42 (“good”) in May last year.
By geographical area, the President’s net satisfaction rating suffered its biggest decline in the Visayas, with a 26-point fall from +74 (“excellent”) in the previous quarter to +48 (“good”).
Across socioeconomic classes, the President’s rating hit a record low among respondents from Class E, falling 29 points from +68 (“very good”) to +39 (“good”).
The survey was conducted from September 20 to 23, after the Inquirer published its series of reports on the 10-billion-peso (US$228 million) pork barrel scam that Napoles allegedly carried out over the past 10 years, with the collaboration of certain senators and congressmen using a network of dubious NGOs.
The Inquirer pork scam series started on July 12, enraging the public that led to a rally calling for the abolition of the pork barrel on August 26 at Manila’s Rizal Park.
Similar protest actions were staged in other parts of the country, as well as overseas. The rally in Manila that attracted some 70,000 people was considered the largest protest assembly since Aquino was elected in 2010.
Another rally against the pork barrel system was held on October 4 in Makati City.
The SWS considers a rating of +70 and above “excellent”; +50 to +69, “very good”; +30 to +49, “good”; +10 to +29, “moderate”, +9 to -9, “neutral”; -10 to -29, “poor”; -30 to -49, “bad”; -50 to -69, “very bad”; and -70 and below, “execrable”.
The survey asked 1,200 respondents nationwide “how satisfied or dissatisfied” they were with “the performance” of Aquino as president. It used face-to-face interviews and had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points.
Valte said that while the palace shared the public anger over pork, “no amount of clutter should confuse the true issue at hand: Public funds were stolen by elected officials and their cohorts in the bureaucracy and the private sector.”
She said the President was “grateful” to the majority of Filipinos “who have not been swayed by the enemies of reform… and lauds their capacity to discern.”
The President’s recent ratings dip may not be the last, according to militant lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc.
ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio said Aquino could expect fewer and fewer Filipinos to be happy with his performance if he continued to ignore their call for him to abolish all pork barrel funds, and shield his allies embroiled in the controversy.
“That ratings slide is because the public has seen that (Aquino) has been defending the PDAF [Priority Development Assistance Fund],” Tinio said in a press briefing.
When the issue over the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), pooled savings of agencies that augmented the PDAF allocations of lawmakers, was taken into consideration, the President could take another hit, Tinio said.
“His satisfaction ratings will be lower if he does not heed the public’s call to abolish the pork barrel and abolish the DAP,” he added.
Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan, in a statement, said Aquino could expect diminished popularity if he continued to protect his allies and fail to hold them accountable for their pork barrel funds.
The Makabayan bloc of lawmakers called on the public not to be fooled by reports that the PDAF had been excised from the 2014 budget.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlo Zarate said that while the term “PDAF” would no longer be found in the budget bill, the pork barrel was still alive because lawmakers could still recommend projects.
Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said it was this very entitlement to recommend projects that turned a fund into pork barrel.