By Arjay L. Balinbin

The 2018 SWS Survey Review showed that President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s ratings in the previous year in almost all areas “are generally positive,” said research scientist Mary Racelis of the Institute of Philippine Culture (IPC), Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU).

Ms. Racelis, one of the reactors at the 2018 SWS Survey Review presented by SWS President Mahar K. Mangahas at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) on Monday, Jan. 29, noted President Duterte’s “positive” performance in his first year in office as shown by the 2017 results of the SWS surveys, conducted Mar. 25-28, Jun. 23-26, Sep. 23-27, and Dec. 8-16.

“But it’s important to put that in the context of previous presidents, and let’s see what’s going to happen in the next five years because that will be the true comparison in the end,” she added.

Mr. Mangahas, in his presentation, said Mr. Duterte received “good” to “very good” satisfaction ratings in the following areas: fighting terrorism (+67), helping the poor (+66) and the hungry (+33), reconciling with rebel groups (+48 for Muslim rebels and +43 for communist rebels), fighting crimes (+43), and eradicating graft and corruption (+42).

The SWS terminology for satisfaction ratings is as follows: +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”; –70 and below, “execrable.”

Moreover, the “rate of victimization of the people by common crimes such as snatching, burglary, carnapping, and physical violence dropped slightly, in line with long-term trends. Fears of home break-in (59%) and of the streets being dangerous to walk at night (48%), which had been rising for several years, receded partially. The presence of many drug addicts in the neighborhood fell substantially, but was still quite high (42%),” Mr. Mangahas said.

SWS also reported that the “Maute/Abu Sayaff uprising in Marawi City was the most followed news of the year. Opinions in September on extending martial law in Mindanao to Dec. 31, 2017, were 54-28 in favor; but 54% said the AFP could suppress the rebels even without martial law. Satisfaction with the government’s suppressive actions was 66-18 overall, but only 29-26 among Muslims. The median expectation of how long it will take for the damaged areas to recover is 5-6 years.”

Meanwhile, opinions on the idea of a “Revolutionary Government” are 31% agree – 39% disagree, or a net -8 contra. Only Mindanao is pro (by +16). Those satisfied with Mr. Duterte are +2 pro; those neutral about him are -22 contra, and those dissatisfied with him are -43 contra, SWS report showed.

The SWS president also pointed out that “Filipino trust in foreign countries has not pivoted: net trust is +60 for the US, versus +6 for Russia and -13 for China. Trust in the UN, EU and Amnesty are all +. Approval of the US leadership fell, as in Asian neighbors.”

“Quality of life (QOL) indicators are extremely favorable” in Mr. Duterte’s first year as president, Mr. Mangahas noted. “Gainers minus losers hit a record +23 in December (+ since 2015). Poverty (46%, 2017) and hunger (12.3%, 2017) are roughly stable. Joblessness is down.”

It was also highlighted that “satisfaction with how democracy works is very high — fully recovered from the depths of 2000-09. Strong preference of democracy over authoritarianism continues, as does the feeling of freedom to speak openly, even against the administration.”

On the other hand, the report also showed that “while calling the war on illegal drugs (is) successful, the people see the police as not as interested as they (are) in capturing suspects alive; as not telling the truth about suspects ‘fighting back’; as killing suspects from the poor rather than the rich; as mistakenly arresting many non-drug-pushers; and as undeserving of cash rewards. The most popular argument against re-imposing the death penalty is to give the offenders the opportunity to reform themselves.”

Makati Business Club (MBC) Executive Director Peter Angelo V. Perfecto, also one of the participants in the forum, said: “The one difference I’ve noticed in this administration, (the President) tends to his flock or his team, and I think he has many people around him to take the flak for him. Also, if you look at the results, people believe the President is telling the truth. But they don’t believe the police are telling the truth.”

“Clearly, there’s a separation in terms of how they see (the President and the police). Unlike again in the previous administration where everything was (the) President’s fault…I think that’s not happening now,” Mr. Perfecto added.