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Ratings drop for Aquino

Posted on March 28, 2011

PUBLIC SATISFACTION with President Benigno S. C. Aquino III’s performance has fallen and controversies such as his purchase of a luxury car apparently have not helped, a new Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey found.

Most Filipinos still approve of Mr. Aquino but his latest net satisfaction rating is down 13 points to +51 (69% satisfied minus the 18% dissatisfied) from November’s +64 (74% satisfied, 10% dissatisfied), results of a March 4-7 poll made exclusive to BusinessWorld showed.

Interviewed on the issue of the president’s purchase of a Porsche late last year, nearly half or 48% said it was not a good example for the chief executive of a country like the Philippines, notwithstanding details such as the car was not brand new and that Mr. Aquino had used his own money.

A political analyst warned that results pointed to "uneasiness," while Malacañang said a dip in Mr. Aquino’s numbers had been expected following his overwhelming election win last year.

Scores in all areas but one, socioeconomic classes and gender were down from November last year. In Luzon, urban areas, among the ABC class and among males, Mr. Aquino particularly saw his net ratings dip into "good" territory from "very good."

His sole gain was in the Visayas to a "very good" +60 from +56 in November. A "very good" net rating of +53 also came from Mindanao but this was down from +65 previously. It dropped 21 points to a "good" +48 in the Balance of Luzon from a "very good" +69, and by a slightly smaller 18 points to a "good" +41 in Metro Manila from a "very good" +59.

Rural satisfaction dipped to a net +55 from +67, both "very good," while urban satisfaction fell further to a "good" +47 from a "very good" +61 in November.

By socioeconomic class, Mr. Aquino’s net rating dived by 26 points to a "good" +49 from an "excellent" +75. Less substantial drops among the class D or masa and the class E allowed the president to maintain "very good" ratings of +51 (from +63) and +50 (from +64), respectively.

Satisfaction among men dropped to a "good" +47 from a "very good" +65, while women were apparently more forgiving as their rating of +55 -- down from +63 -- kept Mr. Aquino’s net score in "very good" territory.

The SWS classifies net satisfaction scores of +70 and above as "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."

Many respondents, meanwhile, objected to purchase of a Porsche 911, with the SWS finding pluralities of 52% in the Visayas, 51% in Mindanao and 46% in the Balance of Luzon. Pluralities of 50% and 45%, respectively were also recorded among the masa and the class E. Mixed results were recorded in Metro Manila (44% agree, 44% disagree and 13% undecided) and among the class ABC (48% agree, 46% disagree, 6% undecided).

Asked to comment, Palace officials noted that Mr. Aquino’s scores remained in the "good" to "very good" range.

"Overall, across almost all sectors of society, the President continues to enjoy majority support," Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a text message.

Sec. Ricky Carandang of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office took a more pragmatic view.

"In general, you tend to see a dip in the numbers after the euphoria of the election wears off. Still, this should remind us that the public is eager to see the results of our reforms sooner rather than later," he said in a separate text message.

As for the unpopular sports car purchase, the Palace insisted that the SWS results involved "public opinion on a private decision" and were "not relevant" to judgments on the President’s performance.

"The public recognizes it as a private issue. Hence, it does not connect the car with the President’s performance," Mr. Lacierda said.

Mr. Carandang said the public reaction was "understandable," but emphasized that "there was never any doubt that the Porsche was purchased by the President with his own money and not with public funds."

Ramon C. Casiple, political analyst at the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms, said Mr. Aquino had made a bad judgment call.

"He should have known what the political ramifications would be when he bought that car," Mr. Casiple said in Filipino. The people, he pointed out, "go by impression."

More worrisome, said Mr. Casiple, is that "This survey already reflects disappointment ... it’s not distrust but uneasiness, particularly because this administration has policies that tend to alienate people..."

He claimed that dissatisfaction would increase given more recent issues, among these the move to postpone the elections in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao and the official response to displacements hitting overseas Filipino workers.

"One day you applaud a decision and on a subsequent day you don’t understand what they are doing ... Unfortunately, the picture coming out is that there is no direction ... we’re talking of reaction only," Mr. Casiple said.

The SWS polled 1,200 adults nationwide for the March 4-7 survey, which had sampling error margins of ±3% for national and ±6% for area percentages.

Last week pollster Pulse Asia, Inc. reported that a Feb. 24 to March 6 poll had found Mr. Aquino’s performance and trust ratings basically unchanged from October. It said 74% approved of his performance, down from 79%, while his trust rating also slipped to 75% from 80%. -- Johanna D. Poblete