PNoy, a very good President
Social Weather Stations expresses its deepest condolences to the Aquino family on the passing of former President Benigno S. Aquino III.
For the past 10 years, SWS has proudly displayed a photograph of the courtesy call of its board of directors on PNoy at Malacañang on July 27, 2011, to present him with two mementos of Philippine opinion research: The First SWS Public Opinion Report (June 1986)—which found 64 percent saying they voted for Cory Aquino, and only 27 percent for Ferdinand Marcos, in the February 1986 snap election—and A Social Weather Report: Public Reaction to the August 29, 1987 Coup Attempt—which found President Cory Aquino’s stalwart resistance to the rebels strongly supported by the Filipino people.
The courtesy call was the culmination of SWS’ Silver Jubilee celebration that year. We paid tribute to President Cory Aquino for providing the democratic space under which open opinion polling began to flourish, and expressed appreciation for the citation of SWS hunger statistics in PNoy’s 2011 State of the Nation Address. PNoy is smiling very cheerfully in the photo.
Public morale was very high under PNoy. Five years later, at the 2016 SWS Survey Review, I reported that the most important news was the exceptionally high morale of the Filipino people. This was based on our surveys of optimism about personal quality of life, optimism about the economy, gaining in quality of life, and satisfaction with life (“Exceptionally high public morale,” inquirer.net, 1/30/2016).
The surplus of personal optimists over pessimists in the final 2015 SWS survey was a new all-time record +40. It was the seventh consecutive quarterly Very High (at least +30) personal optimism.
The surplus of economic optimists over pessimists was +30. This indicator, which started in 1998, is often negative; it had been positive only 3 times in Estrada’s time and only 6 times in Arroyo’s 9-year period. In PNoy’s time, however, it was always positive, and Very High 15 times in 22 surveys.
In all SWS surveys from 1986 to 2014, there were almost always more people getting worse off (losers) than better off (gainers). The two exceptions were May 1986 and March 1987. Then, starting 2015, gainers began to exceed losers.
Adults satisfied with their lives were 88 percent in September 2015, the highest point since 2002, when it was only 61 percent.
The 2016 SWS Survey Review was mainly favorable. Long-term trends of poverty and hunger were downward. The people’s reports of victimization by crime were falling. As rated by businessmen, government corruption was dropping.
PNoy set a new standard. My final column during his term was on PNoy’s personal survey ratings and his administration’s report cards (“PNoy raised the bar,” 6/25/2016). PNoy’s average Net Satisfaction Rating was +45 (Good) for his entire term. His final +29 (Moderate) broke Fidel Ramos’ +19 as previous best finisher. Average satisfaction with his administration bested all previous ones.
On the critical issue of fighting inflation, the PNoy admin scored an average Neutral +1, whereas all previous ones had negative averages. On eradicating graft and corruption, its average was Moderate +15, whereas previous ones were mostly Poor. On fighting crime, its average was Moderate +19, whereas earlier ones were at most +4. On foreign relations, it had a Good +42, while earlier ones had at most +28. On helping the poor, it had a Good +46, while earlier ones had at best +32. On fighting hunger, graded since 2004, the PNoy admin’s average was Neutral +5, compared to the Arroyo admin’s Poor -23.
Considering also the six years of Conditional Cash Transfer, the forging of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, and most of all the smashing victory at the Arbitral Tribunal regarding the West Philippine Sea, there is no doubt that Benigno S. Aquino III was a very good President of the Philippines.
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