Of ribbons and ratings

By Val G. Abelgas

SWS-net-satisfaction-presidents.1With the growing clamor for the impeachment of President Aquino following the ruling by the Supreme Court that the Disbursement Acceleration Program, the negative response to his attacks against the Court, and the plunge in his satisfaction, approval and trust ratings in two recent surveys, Malacanang’s press office should now be in damage control mode.

It showed in two recent pronouncements by Aquino’s spokespersons. A day after Aquino called on his followers to wear yellow ribbons to show that they still supported him, Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said the President’s call should not be taken seriously, saying that the President’s response to a question was “just a light moment in the entire dialogue.”

Coloma’s statement came amid criticisms that the President’s call for supporters to wear yellow ribbon was polarizing the nation. Indeed after Aquino’s call, citizens posted black ribbons and ribbons using the colors of the Philippine flag as Facebook covers and Bayan Muna suggested wearing peach ribbons in support of impeachment. Protesters displayed black and red ribbons in their marches to show support for court employees and judges who vowed to wear black and red clothes to protest Aquino’s attacks on the judiciary.

“At least our country has become colorful. Maybe we should not be too serious about it,” Coloma said.

But Aquino appeared serious when he made the call for the yellow ribbons. But when nobody wore yellow ribbon the next day, Malacanang had to backtrack and say it was just a joke.

And then the next day after Aquino received overwhelming criticisms from various sectors, including some of his allies, for his scathing attacks on the Supreme Court, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said Malacanang is “following the processes as mandated by the Constitution and the law.” She also said Malacanang respects the right of court workers to air their grievances.

Malacanang’s turnaround, however, may be too late for the President as two surveys taken a few days before and after the SC decision showed Aquino’s satisfaction, approval and trust ratings had taken a beating, plunging to their lowest levels since he assumed office on July 1, 2010.

In the Pulse Asia survey taken from June 28 to July 2, Aquino’s approval rating dropped 14 points, and his trust rating plunged by 16 points. The drop showed in all economic classes, unlike before when Class A-B (the upper and upper middle classes) remained highly approved of his performance and his trustworthiness.

Ana Maria Tabunda, Pulse Asia research director, said the Supreme Court decision declaring the DAP unconstitutional came out toward the end of the survey. “I don’t think we caught the full extent of the DAP on the popularity of the President,” Tabunda said.

A separate survey by the Social Weather Station (SWS), on the other hand, showed that Aquino’s net satisfaction rating dropped by 20 big points, from a “good” plus 45 to a “moderate” plus 25. The survey was conducted from June 27 to June 30, the day before the SC was set to announce its DAP ruling.

I surmise it could have been worse if both surveys were conducted a few days after the SC ruling, especially following Aquino’s arrogant attacks.

The issues that were in place at the time of the surveys, however, were just as damaging to the President – the pork barrel scam, rising prices of goods and services, escalating poverty, and the worsening power outages throughout the country.

The decline followed a consistent pattern of diminishing approval ratings for Aquino since he assumed the presidency. His approval rating in July 2010, just a month after he became president, was 88 percent, while his approval rating in June 2014 was only 56 percent, meaning his ratings have dropped 32 points in four years. If this pattern keeps up, Aquino would have a negative net approval rating by next year.

But unlike before when Aquino and his spokesmen would downplay the survey results by saying governance should not be “survey-driven,” Malacanang chose to remain silent about the survey results this time.

Drowned in the Aquino-SC brouhaha are two reports that showed the impact of the DAP ruling and its aftermath.

In one report, New York-based think tank Global Source slashed its growth forecast for the Philippine economy this year to only 5.8%, citing the controversy over the Disbursement Allocation Program.

In another report, the Philippine peso was said to have gone from first to worst in Southeast Asia following the DAP ruling. The peso advanced 0.3 percent this month, compared with a 1.5 percent jump in the Indonesian rupiah and a 1.1 percent gain in the Malaysian ringgit, after the July 1 Supreme Court ruling. The currency led the region with a 2.7 percent rally last quarter as the nation got a credit-rating upgrade from Standard & Poor’s.

Aquino raised the people’s hopes when he became president. The people had hoped that with his promise of battling corruption using the slogans “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” and “daang matuwid,” the country would finally be on its way to eradicating both corruption and poverty.

The high hope has turned to disappointment with just two years left of his term. As I had warned in my column on November 1, 2010 or exactly four months into his presidency: “The trouble with hello is goodbye; the trouble with hope is disappointment.”



2 Responses. Have your say.

  1. Mac Flores, Jr. says:

    I still recall that the Cory Constitution (present constitution) was framed as a transition from dictatorial regime of Marcos to restoration of democratic government.

    That was almost 30 years ago and its status is still transitional…meaning nothing has substantially changed much.

    The statistical indicators show that from Cory to son Noynoy, all these presidents had noticeable “failures” in their administration before the end of their term.

    I may conclude that the “failures” maybe caused by at least 3 reasons, among others:

    1. These presidents do not know how to govern; or
    2. Power hungry or abusive; and or
    3. The Constitution has many defects/flaws, the reason why almost all of these presidents have been subjected to Coup D’etat or impeachment and or jailed, even if they say – “I am innocent and I did my job in good faith”.

    I will rank the problem/issues above in importance as: 3, 2, 1 in that order of seriousness.

    The PHL Constitution must be progressive, adaptive to the needs of the time yet stable and not temporary or transitional in status.

    • Bobby Bagos says:

      Mac, don’t forget to give our brainless kababayans some credit for putting these worthless politicians in office, after all having a bunch of former movie stars with a six grade education deciding the fate of our country is better than nothing. And that’s exactly what our country is getting, nothing.

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