Latest poll gives Aquino some relief
Hounded by falling ratings in opinion polls over the past six months, the Aquino administration expressed relief at the rebound of its numbers in the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, which showed marked increases in the President’s approval figures nationwide in the third quarter, across all classes and regions, notably urban poor areas.
President Aquino said he was confident that he still enjoyed a high trust rating despite the results of an earlier Pulse Asia poll that showed 62 percent of Filipinos disapproved of amending the Constitution to allow him to stand for election to a second term.
The SWS survey, conducted from Sept. 26 to 29, showed that across geographic areas, the President’s net satisfaction rating posted double-digit increases in Metro Manila (from plus 6 to plus 22), and the rest of Luzon (from plus 16 to plus 29), while the score slightly increased in the Visayas (from plus 39 to plus 43) and in Mindanao (from plus 40 to plus 43).
SWS pointed out that the President received a “very good” plus rating (according to the SWS system of rating) three months into his administration and reached the record of “very good” plus 67 in August 2012.
In 16 quarterly SWS surveys conducted before September, when the fall began, the President’s net scores were under plus 50 only seven times, SWS said.
The President’s score in urban areas is still “moderate,” as it climbed by 12 points from plus 15 to plus 27, while it is “good” in rural areas.
Among socioeconomic classes, President Aquino’s net score increased by 12 points, from plus 22 to plus 34, among Class D (the poor) and by 7 points, from plus 31 to plus 38 among Class E (the poorest).
But the score dropped 5 points, from plus 32 to plus 27, among Class ABC, which includes the rich and the noisy middle class.
Stripped of its technical jargon, the SWS survey came as a timely rescue as the administration reeled on the ropes from the battering it received from polls showing plummeting approval ratings that threatened a free fall.
This downhill slide could have caused no little amount of concern for Malacañang over the prospects of extending the President’s tenure for another term, and the surveys appeared to reflect the growing fatigue and weariness of Filipino voters with the performance of the Aquino administration, now entering its final two years.
Saved by the bell
In short, it may be said that Mr. Aquino was saved from a knockout by the bell of the referees’ intervention in the form of surveys showing a rebound of the President’s ratings.
While the President acknowledged the results of the Pulse Asia survey of Sept. 8 to 15, showing that 62 percent of Filipinos opposed the extension of his term, he didn’t show signs he was worried the results would spell doom for his intention to run for reelection.
“I am not saying that I want to extend my term,” he said. “But let’s talk about numbers. When I won in 2010, I got 42 percent of the vote cast. It is not far from the 38 percent who want change.”
He was referring to the 38 percent who favored amending the Constitution.
He pointed out that according to the survey, 18 percent were still undecided.
“Getting another 13 percent to achieve a majority, which is 14 percent of the population, is not that difficult,” he said.
But the President clarified that he was not “laying the groundwork” for constitutional amendments that would allow him to run for a second term.
“They might say I’m laying the groundwork. I am still the servant of my bosses and they will tell me what should be the case. Perhaps we should go beyond 2016 to 2022,” Mr. Aquino said.
The President said he was treating the possibility of term extension with extreme caution, recalling that President Marcos had two terms and pushed for a parliamentary system.
“We have to consider that,” Mr. Aquino said.
He said he was also weighing whether opening the door to the parliamentary system would be worthwhile.
“Will the risk be that great? I am not a dictator, so I want to consult the people,” the President said.
Which people, it might be asked, his sycophants?
The latest SWS survey found that 58 percent of respondents were satisfied with the President’s performance and 25 percent were dissatisfied, resulting in a net satisfaction rating (satisfied minus dissatisfied) of “good” plus 33.
The President’s latest score—his second so far—is 9 points higher than his “moderate” plus 25 rating in June, which was the lowest he has registered since he began his term in 2010.
SWS noted that Mr. Aquino got a “very good” plus 60 rating three months into his administration and reached the record high of “very good” plus 67 in August 2012.
After that, decay began to erode his ratings.
The rebound in the satisfaction ratings sent paroxysms of gloating among administration officials. They said the rebound vitiated the doomsday scenario of administration critics.
“The professional naysayers and predictors of doom will perhaps find it inconvenient that their predictions of a trend have not materialized,” a Palace spokesperson said. “The President’s ratings remain historically high compared [with] the same period of other administrations.”
The volatility of the ratings seems to fuel the President’s anxieties over perceptions he is a spent force or, worse, he is a lame duck as he enters the twilight zone of his presidency.
Instead of pushing the administration to raise the bar of its performance, the new surveys prompted the administration to fall back to its overzealousness in prosecuting officials charged with alleged corrupt practices.
The latest surveys were conducted against the background of headline-grabbing issues, highlighting, among other controversies, the current Senate blue ribbon subcommittee investigation of the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building II and the P1-billion property allegedly owned by Vice President Jejomar Binay—the latest bashing beast for the administration’s anticorruption campaign.
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