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By Raynan F. Javil

Public satisfied, but rants worry

Posted on December 15, 2016

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte maintained his “very good” net public satisfaction rating this quarter in a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey that nevertheless flagged concern -- especially in his bailiwick Mindanao -- on the impact of his harsh words for foreign allies and partners.

Results of the survey -- conducted on Dec. 3-6 via face-to-face interviews with 1,500 adults nationwide and with sampling error margins of ±3 points for national percentages, ±4 for “Balance Luzon” as well as ±6 points each for Metro Manila, the Visayas and Mindanao -- found 77% satisfied, 10% undecided and 13% dissatisfied regarding Mr. Duterte’s performance this quarter.

That yielded a net satisfaction rating of +63 (% satisfied minus % dissatisfied, rounded off), classified as “very good,” steady from the September survey’s +64 (76% satisfied against 11% dissatisfied) that was Mr. Duterte’s first such rating as President.

SWS classifies net satisfaction ratings of at least +70 as “excellent”; those +50 to +69 as “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”; as well as -70 and below, “execrable.”

Mr. Duterte’s net satisfaction rating suffered significantly in Mindanao, dropping 11 points to +74 from +85, but still remaining “excellent” and the best reading among all geographical areas.

Sought for comment, Ramon C. Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, attributed the double-digit decline of Mr. Duterte’s net satisfaction rating in Mindanao to promises that have yet to be fulfilled, “like the peace talks” and “major reforms na pinangako niya sa (that he promised) Mindanao.”

“So hindi hangga’t di pa nangyayari, talagang bababa ‘yan (until those promises are fulfilled, his rating in Mindanao will really go down),” said Mr. Casiple, even as he noted that the President’s net rating there was “still high.”

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Readings steadied elsewhere. It stayed “very good” in the Visayas, hardly moving to +61 from +62. It also remained “very good” in “Balance Luzon,” up just three points to +60 from +57. Net satisfaction rating in Metro Manila steadied also in “very good” territory at +59 this month from September’s +58.

Net public satisfaction rating also stayed “very good” in both urban and rural areas, though up three points in the former (to +66 from +63) and down six points in the latter (to +61 from +67).

Mr. Duterte’s net scores similarly remained “very good” across socioeconomic classes, even as they registered some declines.

The rating steadied at +64 from +65 among respondents belonging to class “D”, or the masa, but fell four points each to +61 from +65 among class “E” respondents and to +52 from +56 in the “ABC” class.

The President’s net satisfaction rating among men fell one grade to “very good” from “excellent” and by five points to +66 from +71.

It rose slightly by three points among female respondents to +61 from +58, remaining “very good.”

Mr. Duterte’s satisfaction rating among 18- to 24-year-olds rose by 15 points and a grade to “excellent” +70 from September’s “very good” +55.

His score remained “very good” among 45- to 54-year-olds, up four points to +65 from +61.

It similarly stayed “very good” among those aged at least 55 years old, hardly moving to +56 from +58.

However, it fell by one grade and seven points among 25- to 34-year-olds to a “very good” +66 from an “excellent” +73.

Net public satisfaction among 35- to 44-year-olds similarly fell by one grade and six points to a “very good” +65 from “excellent” +71.

Among respondents who had college degrees, Mr. Duterte’s net rating rose by one grade and seven points to an “excellent” +72 from a “very good” +65.

Among high school graduates, it fell by a grade and three points to a “very good” +68 from an “excellent” +71.

Among respondents who were elementary school graduates, the net rating remained “very good” at +56 from +57.

Mr. Duterte’s net rating stayed “very good” among those who did not graduate from elementary level, edging up three points to +57 from +54.

The same survey also found that 51% agreed that Mr. Duterte’s habit of publicly cursing foreign officials whom he doesn’t like could harm the Philippines’ relations with other countries or institutions, 33% disagreed with the statement and 17% were undecided, yielding a “moderate” net agreement score of +18 (% agree minus % disagree).

SWS classifies net agreement scores of at least +50 as “very strong,” +30 to +49 as “strong,” +10 to +29 as “moderate,” +9 to -9 as “neutral,” -10 to -29 as “poor,” -30 to -49 as “weak” as well as -50 and below as “very weak.”

Scores were "moderate" across the nation.

Net agreement on this matter was highest in Mindanao at +25 (52% agree, 27% disagree), followed by “Balance Luzon” at +18 (51% agree, 33% disagree), Metro Manila at +16 (53% agree, 36% disagree, correctly rounded) and the Visayas at +12 (48% agree, 36% disagree).

By class, net agreement was highest in class “E” at “moderate” +21 (49% agree, 29% disagree, rounded off), followed by “D” at a “moderate” +18 (51% agree, 33% disagree) and “ABC” at a “neutral” +4 (49% agree, 45% disagree).

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin M. Andanar said in a mobile phone reply that “[t]he President’s two consecutive ‘very good’ net satisfaction ratings serve as an inspiration for the Chief Executive to... fulfill his promises of getting rid of drugs, crime and corruption in our society.”

Of the concern over the impact of Mr. Duterte’s curses of foreign critics, Mr. Andanar added that “the Palace acknowledges that such language may affect international relations.”

“[T]hese presidential utterances are not personal attacks directed at particular persons, but mere expressions on the many unresolved and unaddressed issues in the country.”

Sought for comment, University of Santo Tomas political science professor Edmund S. Tayao said that the result of the survey was to be “expected.”

“So far, we can see the performance of the President and it’s really been -- to say the very least -- results oriented,” said Mr. Tayao in a telephone interview.

“But the administration cannot deny that whatever the President says reflects the government and it reflects the country,” he cautioned.

“Even if the President is referring to something else or saying something in jest, essentially it reflects the government: it’s as if it’s a policy statement.”

He added the communication of the President and of his spokesmen needs to be “calibrated.”

“The public understands the emotional character of the President. Probably compared to past presidents, this is a leader who doesn’t hide how he feels on certain issues,” Mr. Tayao noted.

“The problem is, it impacts on the country’s welfare, economy and even the perception of the international community.”