MANILA, Philippines – For senators, President Rodrigo Duterte's decline in trust and performance ratings is not yet significant but should serve as a warning to the Chief Executive.
The results of a Pulse Asia Research, Incorporated, survey showed Duterte's trust ratings dipping to 76% in March 2017 from 83% in December 2016, and his performance ratings to 78% from 83% over the same period.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Duterte's party mate in the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), said the public still love the President despite the decline in numbers.
"Honeymoon period is over. But the people still love him, his leadership, and his unique style given his 'corrected' trust and performance ratings," Pimentel said in a message.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III also said the decline is not alarming. After all, he said, there are "no elections to look forward to."
"It can be argued both ways. It depends on which side of the fence you are in. A drop is a drop but 78% is 78%. Some presidents have never even reached 60%," Sotto said in a text message.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, a Duterte ally, said the dip is not significant, considering the attacks and negative publicity against the President.
For the neophyte senator, the lower ratings show "how deeply the Filipino people trust the President and how much they believe in his vision."
"Over the past few months, President Duterte has been subjected to an unprecedented amount of international criticism and negative publicity. However, despite all of the attacks launched against him, a commanding supermajority of the Filipino people remain confident in President Duterte's ability to lead our country," Gatchalian said.
Senator Panfilo Lacson and minority Senator Francis Pangilinan both said a dip in the President's ratings is insignificant and not surprising at this time.
"All presidents before him also experienced very high trust ratings at the start of their terms and eventually, these ratings all dipped so there is really nothing unusual with the 5-point drop," Pangilinan said in a statement, adding Duterte should use his high trust ratings to address rising prices of goods and lack of jobs, among others.
"The 'honeymoon' period will last sooner or later but it will come to that anyway. A 5-7 percentage point drop is not significant and shouldn't ring alarm bells at this point," said Lacson.
Lacson, however, said that if the ratings decline continues, Duterte should assess the situation and adjust himself and his policies accordingly.
"But if the drop continues in big numbers in the months to come and consistently at that, particularly in his second year in office, if I were him, I would sit down with trusted advisers to assess and make some adjustments if necessary, not only in terms of policies and actual implementation of those policies but more so in my public pronouncements," he said.
"At the end of the day, rightly or wrongly, a leader should somehow adopt to what the people want or demand of him to do to serve them if he wants to succeed. Needless to say, the support of the people he serves is one indispensable element in governance," he added.
Senator Risa Hontiveros said the dip in Duterte's rating "should serve as a stern warning to the President."
"President Duterte may remain popular at the moment, but people are starting to doubt the administration and its barbaric methods of addressing the country's drug problem," Hontiveros said.
"The President must listen to the growing public clamor to end the abusive war on drugs and fully commit to democracy and human rights. President Duterte must listen to other important voices aside from his own before it's too late," she added.
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, one of the staunchest critics of Duterte, welcomed the survey results.
"I am very much encouraged by the declining numbers of Duterte. The Filipino people are beginning to see the light. By May, we expect it to go down further," he said. – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email email@example.com