What we can learn from the sur­vey

Manila Bulletin - - Editorial -

OF­FI­CIALS and com­men­ta­tors of all kinds have had their say th­ese past few days on the So­cial Weather Sta­tions (SWS) sur­vey show­ing a big drop in the sat­is­fac­tion and trust rat­ings of Pres­i­dent Duterte.

As may be ex­pected, ad­min­is­tra­tion crit­ics stressed the neg­a­tive side of the sur­vey find­ings, while loy­al­ists min­i­mized the drop, pointed out the pos­i­tive an­gle, and pre­dicted a re­bound in the next sur­vey. The fact is that there is some­thing for ev­ery­one in the sur­vey find­ings.

Between the June and the Septem­ber sur­veys, there was a drop of 18 points in the Pres­i­dent’s net sat­is­fac­tion rat­ing – from 66 to 48 per­cent. There was also a drop of 15 points – from 75 to 60 per­cent – in his trust rat­ing. But the lat­est sat­is­fac­tion rat­ing is still con­sid­ered “good” by the SWS and the trust rat­ing is still “very good.”

Pres­i­den­tial spokesman Ernesto Abella pointed out that all pres­i­dents’ rat­ings have tra­di­tion­ally dropped af­ter the first year in of­fice. The peo­ple gen­er­ally make al­lowances for the new pres­i­dent in the “hon­ey­moon pe­riod.” The hon­ey­moon pe­riod may be over, “but the love is still here,” Abella said.

But op­po­si­tion quar­ters stress that the drop, while ex­pected at this time of the year, was faster than the av­er­age drop for pre­vi­ous pres­i­dents. The de­cline in sat­is­fac­tion and trust was in all sec­tors, with the most pre­cip­i­tous fall – by 32 points – in sat­is­fac­tion in Class E, the poor­est class in Philip­pine so­ci­ety and long con­sid­ered the mass base of Pres­i­dent Duterte.

Some pun­dits be­lieve this may be due to the per­cep­tion that most of those who have fallen in the na­tion­wide anti-drugs cam­paign, as car­ried out by the Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice (PNP), were poor folk. Pres­i­dent Duterte has now or­dered in a mem­o­ran­dum signed Oct. 10, that all anti-drug op­er­a­tions will hence­forth be led by the Philip­pine Drug En­force­ment Agency (PDEA), with the PNP only in a sup­port­ive ca­pac­ity.

This first year of the ad­min­is­tra­tion has been con­cen­trated, it seems, on the anti-drugs cam­paign. It is in­deed a tremen­dous prob­lem that mer­its the all-out ef­forts of the govern­ment to erad­i­cate it for the fu­ture of the na­tion’s youth. But other problems also call for the govern­ment’s at­ten­tion, most no­tably the age-old prob­lem of wide­spread poverty.

The drop in rat­ings may thus be also re­lated to the un­ful­filled ex­pec­ta­tions of so many poor folk for a bet­ter life through more em­ploy­ment, more and cheaper food on the ta­ble, and bet­ter govern­ment ser­vices such as in mass trans­porta­tion. The “Build, Build, Build” in­fra­struc­ture pro­gram is thus anx­iously be­ing awaited for the mas­sive govern­ment spend­ing may well stim­u­late the na­tional econ­omy in a way that will touch the lives of the poor.

The cam­paigns against drugs, against cor­rup­tion, for more in­de­pen­dent for­eign pol­icy, for closer ties with our neigh­bors are all im­por­tant. But the govern­ment should start fo­cus­ing on long-awaited re­forms and pro­grams that will have a di­rect ef­fect on the ev­ery­day lives of the peo­ple, es­pe­cially the poor. This could be what the peo­ple want to tell the govern­ment with their re­sponses to the re­cent SWS sur­vey.

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