Ratings of Speakers of the House
Last June, a 37-percent plurality of Filipino adults were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with Pantaleon Alvarez’s performance as Speaker of the House of Representatives. There were 31 percent satisfied and 23 percent dissatisfied, giving a net rating of +8, which SWS calls “Neutral” for insufficient statistical basis to be different from zero.
The final SWS survey rating for Speaker Alvarez was Neutral in the National Capital Region (net -3), the Balance of Luzon (+4), and the Visayas (+9). It was meaningful only in Mindanao (a Moderate +24).
Just before losing the speakership, Alvarez was the least popular of the top five officials of the Philippine government—see “Second Quarter 2018 Social Weather Survey: Net satisfaction ratings ‘Good’ for Vice-President Robredo, ‘Very Good’ for Senate President Sotto, ‘Neutral’ for Speaker Alvarez, and ‘Moderate’ for Acting Chief Justice Carpio,” www.sws.org.ph, posted 7/26/18.
In his eight quarters as Speaker, Alvarez received five ratings of Moderate (meaning positive double-digit, up to +29) and three ratings of Neutral (meaning single-digit, regardless of sign). His personal best was +22, in September 2016, his first quarter in office, and his personal low was +1, in March 2018. He ended his post with two consecutive neutrals.
The Social Weather Surveys started tracking satisfaction with Speakers in 1990. In five surveys in the time of Cory Aquino (we had only two surveys per year then), Ramon Mitra had one Good (+33 in February 1990) and four Moderates, ending with a decent +25 in February 1992.
In 24 surveys of the Fidel Ramos years, Jose de Venecia Jr. (Part 1) obtained 11 Goods and 13 Moderates. His Good net +46 in June 1997 is still the all-time high for a Speaker. He ended at a decent net +28.
In the first nine quarters of the shortened term of Joseph Estrada, the initial Speaker of the House was Manuel “Manny” Villar. He garnered 6 Good and 3 Moderate ratings from mid-1998 to September 2000, with a personal best of net +42 in July 2000. Having gotten the highest proportion of Goods, Villar was, in my view, the most popular of all Speakers from 1986 up to now.
It was under the Villar speakership that the House impeached President Estrada in November 2000, for which Villar was quickly deposed. His replacement, Arnulfo Fuentebella, had a single survey rating of net -4 in December 2000. It was the first time for a Speaker to hit Neutral—a striking contrast to Villar’s final net +39 in September 2000, which was the last time any Speaker got a Good rating.
After Gloria Arroyo assumed office in late January 2001, thanks to People Power II, her initial leader in the House was Jose de Venecia Jr. (Part 2). This time, he obtained 8 Moderates and 17 Neutrals, in 25 SWS surveys. His personal best was a net +23 in September 2002. But he had 13 consecutive Neutrals from December 2004 to December 2007, when he bowed out at net +1.
De Venecia’s replacement, Prospero Nograles, got Poor ratings (double-digit negatives, up to -29) in all of the last 10 surveys under Gloria Arroyo, from March 2008 to June 2010. Among all Speakers, the most dismal numbers have been those of Nograles—ranging from net -10 at best, to net -22 at worst.
Public regard for the speakership recovered considerably under Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr., who had 14 Moderates and 10 Neutrals during the time of Benigno Aquino III. Belmonte’s personal best was +20, in August 2012; his final score was +18 in June 2010.
Now let us see how the new Speaker, Gloria Arroyo, will fare with the public, compared to her predecessors.
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