Bayan News

September 2019 Nationwide Survey on the Performance and Trust Ratings of the Top Philippine Government Officials

Pulse Asia Research, Inc. is pleased to share with you some findings on the Performance and Trust Ratings of the Top Philippine Government Officials from the September 2019 Ulat ng Bayan national survey. We request you to assist us in informing the public by disseminating this information.

The survey fieldwork was conducted from September 16 to 22, 2019 using face-to-face interviews.

In the weeks immediately prior to and during the conduct of the field interviews for this nationwide survey, the following local and international developments dominated the news headlines:

1. The appointment of Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) Regional Director for Southwestern Tagalog Gerald Bantag as the next Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General, this following the sacking of erstwhile BuCor Chief Nicanor Faeldon due to his approval of the release of several personalities convicted of heinous crimes including former Calauan Mayor Antonio Sanchez who was sentenced in 1995 to seven (7) life terms for rape and murder committed in 1993;

2. The Senate investigation into the release of heinous crime convicts under the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law; under the Duterte administration, 1,714 prisoners in jail for heinous crimes have been released including three (3) of those convicted for the rape and murder of the Chiong sisters in Cebu City in 1997; following the public outcry against the pending early release of ex-Calauan Mayor Sanchez, President Duterte ordered those prisoners released under the GCTA law to surrender by 19 September 2019 to allow the authorities to “recompute” their benefits as provided for by law; a total of 2,009 prisoners surrendered even though only 1,914 inmates were covered by President Duterte’s order, prompting the authorities to admit that some of those who surrendered were not convicted of heinous crimes;

3. The order issued by the Office of the Ombudsman on 09 September 2019 placing 27 officials of the BuCor under preventive suspension without pay for six (6) months due to their alleged involvement in extorting money ranging from P 50,000 to P 1.5 M from prisoners in exchange for their early release; leading those suspended are Senior Superintendents Celso Bravo and Melencio Faustino who serve as heads of the Directorate for Security and Operations of the BuCor;

4. The detention at the Senate of three (3) BuCor officials after they were cited for contempt during a hearing on the various anomalies in the BuCor, this time concerning the so-called “hospital passes for sale” scheme wherein inmates pay bribes in exchange for a prolonged hospital stay; detained were Dr. Ursicio Cenas of the New Bilibid Prison hospital, BuCor Legal Chief Fredric Santos, and Staff Sergeant Ramoncito Roque who heads the BuCor Documents Section;

5. The inclusion of Senator Ronald dela Rosa in the list of past and present BuCor officials being investigated by the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the GCTA controversy; the lawmaker, who signed the release order of around 120 inmates while serving as BuCor Chief from April to October 2018, welcomed the investigation as an opportunity to prove that he has nothing to do with the “GCTA for sale” scheme;

6. The revelation made by former BuCor Chief Rafael Ragos during a Senate hearing about the other money-making schemes involving BuCor officers and employees; among these are receiving bribes from prisoners in exchange for allowing them to run a 24-hour gambling operation within prison premises or to grant their special requests such as an extended stay of a female visitor or holding a party, selling cellphones to inmates, and the kidnapping-for-ransom of the girlfriends or wives of high-profile prisoners; the ex-BuCor Chief was granted legislative immunity by the Senate for his testimony;

7. The declaration by the Department of Health (DOH) of a polio outbreak in the country after a 3-year old child from Lanao del Sur tested positive for the vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (VDPV2) on 14 September 2019; this is the first confirmed case of the disease since the Philippines was declared polio-free in October 2000; the DOH also called for more action to combat the dengue epidemic as the total number of cases reached 249,332 as of 24 August 2019, with the department encouraging local governments to be more aggressive and active in their efforts to combat dengue more efficiently;

8. The death of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Fourth-Class Cadet Darwin Dormitorio due to hazing, the first such case in the PMA since 2001; the latter passed away on 18 September 2019 due to cardiac arrested as a result of internal bleeding; PMA Superintendent Lt. Gen. Ronnie Evangelista, who resigned from his post on 24 September 2019, disclosed that three (3) cadets and three (3) non-faculty employees were among those identified as persons of interest in the case being jointly investigated by the military and police;

9. The approval by the House of Representatives of the General Appropriations Act (GAA) for next year amounting to P 4.1 T through a vote of 257-6; the proposed 2020 national budget is 11.8% more than this year’s budget; social services has a share of 37.2% of the proposed budget, with economic services receiving 28.9% while in terms of agencies, the Department of Education (DepEd) has the biggest allocation at P 673 B; the Lower House also passed on third and final reading the proposed Corporate Income Tax and Incentive Rationalization Act (CITIRA), the second tranche of the Duterte administration’s tax reform package, which seeks to create more jobs by reducing corporate taxes and rationalizing fiscal incentives;

10. The moves of the National Food Authority (NFA) to “flood” the local markets with 3.6 million 50-kilogram bags of imported and local rice from its stock in order to lower the price of rice from P 38 to P 40 per kilo to P 27 per kilo and to raise the support price for palay for P 19 per kilo from P 17; these measures are expected to help solve the problems of high rice prices and low income of farmers; on the other hand, some peasant groups demanded for a support price for palay of at least P 20 per kilo as well as the release of the P 27-per-kilo NFA rice in the local markets to cushion the impact of the Rice Liberalization Law;

11. The revelation by President Duterte that Chinese President Xi Jinping offered the Philippines a 60% share in a proposed joint energy venture in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) if it sets aside the 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration favoring the Philippines; however, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. contradicted President Duterte’s remarks by pointing out that China did not attach such a condition to the proposal to jointly develop gas deposits in the Recto Bank; for his part, former DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario explained that the Duterte administration does not need to set aside the arbitral ruling to pursue joint exploration with China in the WPS because such an act would be “constitutional and consistent” with the arbitral ruling if China gets into a service contract with the Philippines;

12. The publication on the Bureau of Customs (BOC) website of a “confidential” memorandum signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea ordering all government departments and agencies to suspend negotiations for loans and grants from 18 countries that supported a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) resolution put forward by Iceland calling for the monitoring of the “war on drugs” of the Duterte administration; Vice-President Maria Leonor G. Robredo lamented the President’s decision because it will adversely affect funding for programs for the country’s poor; Malacañang denied that President Duterte issued such an order but DFA Secretary Locsin appeared to have contradicted this when he defended the President’s move as “not well-advised” since the countries that voted in favor of the resolution hardly gave or lent anything substantial to the Philippines or offered loans with onerous conditions;

13. The confirmation made by Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar that African swine fever has affected pig farms in Bulacan, Rizal, and Metro Manila; while the World Organization for Animal Health said African swine fever is not a risk to human health, local agriculture officials are looking to control the problem to protect the country’s hog industry so that pork supply and prices will remain normal; the total number of cases in the Philippines account for 80% of the total reported cases of the disease worldwide;

14. The increase in the prices of oil products following the 14 September 2019 attack on a majority oil processing plant in Saudi Arabia; while Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack, doubts were raised given, among other things, the level of sophistication of the attack and the range of the weapons used being longer than that of the weapons possessed by the rebels; amidst fears of a cut in global oil supply due to the attack, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulazziz bin Salman assured that his country will be able to fully restore its oil output by the end of September 2019; in the Philippines, the Department of Energy (DOE) does not foresee any supply problem as a result of the attack but admits that local oil prices will be affected by the volatility in the global market;

15. The decision of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to formally withdraw a bill that would have allowed the extradition of suspects to China to be tried under its judicial system; opposition to the extradition bill began in late March 2019 and continues to the present day, with protestors still waiting for the government’s response to their other demands including an independent inquiry into police violence, amnesty for those arrested, and universal suffrage; and

16. The report by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showing a decline to 1.7% in the headline inflation rate from 2.4% between July and August 2019 primarily due to the continued slowdown in the increase in prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages as well as housing and utilities; the decline in the power rates charged by the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) for the fifth straight month; Meralco customers will be paying 52.6 centavos less per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in September 2019 as a result of lower charges at the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), with the total drop now at P 1.52 per kWh since April 2019.

As in our previous Ulat ng Bayan surveys, this nationwide survey is based on a sample of 1,200 representative adults 18 years old and above. It has a ± 2.8% error margin at the 95% confidence level.  Subnational estimates for the geographic areas covered in the survey have the following error margins at 95% confidence level:  ± 5.7% for Metro Manila, the rest of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Those interested in further technical details may refer to our website (www.pulseasia.ph)

Approval and trust are the predominant sentiments toward three (3) of the country’s leading government officials in September 2019

Most Filipinos express appreciation for the work done in the last three (3) months by President Rodrigo R. Duterte (78%), Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III (72%), and House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano (64%). Half of Filipinos (50%) approve of the quarterly performance of Vice-President Maria Leonor G. Robredo while essentially the same approval and indecision figures are scored by Supreme Court Chief Justice Lucas P. Bersamin (42% versus 40%). Ambivalence concerning the work of these officials is least pronounced in the case of President Duterte (14%). With regard to the disapproval ratings of these officials, they range from 6% for House Speaker Cayetano to 22% for Vice-President Robredo. (Please refer to Table 1.)

Majority approval ratings across all geographic areas and socio-economic classes are enjoyed by President Duterte (69% to 92% and 75% to 84%, respectively), Senate President Sotto (69% to 77% and 72% to 78%, respectively), and House Speaker Cayetano (55% to 75% and 57% to 71%, respectively). As for Vice-President Robredo, she has majority approval scores in the Visayas (68%), Mindanao (53%), and Class E (66%), plurality approval figures in the rest of Luzon (44%) and Class D (48%), and basically the same approval and indecision ratings in Metro Manila (41% versus 37%) and Class C (39% versus 38%). (Please refer to Table 2.)

In the case of Supreme Court Chief Justice Bersamin, most Visayans (54%) approve of his performance while a bare majority of Metro Manilans (51%) are unable to say if they approve or disapprove of the same. Almost half of those belonging to Class E (48%) have a positive assessment of the latter’s quarterly performance while virtually the same percentages of those in the rest of Luzon, Mindanao, and Classes C and D either approve of his work (37% to 47%) or are ambivalent on the matter (39% to 49%).

The same top government officials with majority approval ratings are also trusted by most Filipinos – President Duterte (74%), Senate President Sotto (66%), and House Speaker Cayetano (62%). A near majority trust figure is recorded by Vice-President Robredo (46%). Almost half of Filipinos aware of him (49%) are undecided about the trustworthiness of Supreme Court Chief Justice Bersamin. The lowest level of indecision on the matter of trusting or distrusting these officials is posted by the President (18%). Distrust ratings vary from 7% for Senate President Sotto to 25% for Vice-President Robredo. (Please refer to Table 3.)

Trust is the prevailing sentiment in the different geographic areas and socio-economic groupings toward President Duterte (62% to 91% and 71% to 80%, respectively), Senate President Sotto (61% to 72% and 63% to 71%, respectively), and House Speaker Cayetano (53% to 76% and 51% to 67%, respectively). In contrast, the only majority trust ratings of Vice-President Robredo are granted by Visayans (60%) and those in Class E (63%). Big pluralities to near majorities in Mindanao (49%) and Class D (43%) also trust the latter. Practically the same trust and indecision figures are obtained by the Vice-President from Metro Manilans (44% versus 36%) while public opinion regarding her trustworthiness is split three-ways among those in Luzon and Class C with 37% to 38% trusting her, 32% to 34% expressing distrust, and 30% being undecided on the matter. (Please refer to Table 4.)

Supreme Court Chief Justice Bersamin fails to register any majority figure across geographic areas and socio-economic classes. Most Metro Manilans (56%), those residing in the rest of Luzon (53%), and those in Class C (61%) cannot say if they trust or distrust the latter. Indecision is the plurality sentiment in Class D (48%). Around the same percentages of those in the Visayas, Mindanao, and Class E either trust the Supreme Court Chief Justice (39% to 44%) or admit that they are ambivalent about his trustworthiness (40% to 46%).

President Duterte, Vice-President Robredo, and Senate President Sotto experience marked movements in their respective performance and trust ratings between June and September 2019 both at the national level and across geographic areas and socio-economic classes

Appreciation for presidential performance eases during the period June to September 2019 in the country as a whole (-7 percentage points) and in the rest of Luzon in particular (-13 percentage points). Indecision on the matter of trusting or distrusting Vice-President Robredo becomes more pronounced at the national level (+7 percentage points) and specifically in the rest of Luzon (+14 percentage points) and Class D (+8 percentage points). As for Senate President Sotto, he experiences a drop in his approval score in the rest of Luzon (-18 percentage points) and an increase in the level of ambivalence toward his performance in the same geographic area (+16 percentage points). (Please refer to Table 5.)

Between June to September 2019, presidential trust ratings go down in the Philippines (-11 percentage points), the rest of Luzon (-19 percentage points), and Class D (-12 percentage points). At the same time, indecision on the matter of trusting or distrusting President Duterte becomes more notable in the country as a whole (+7 percentage points). (Please refer to Table 6.)

While Vice-President Robredo experiences an improvement in her trust rating in Metro Manila (+13 percentage points), the reverse occurs in the rest of Luzon (-14 percentage points) and Class D (-9 percentage points). Meanwhile, ambivalence toward the latter’s trustworthiness becomes more manifest in the Philippines (+7 percentage points), the rest of Luzon (+13 percentage points), and Class D (+10 percentage points).

Senate President Sotto records a drop in his trust ratings in the Philippines (-7 percentage points), the rest of Luzon (-24 percentage points), and Class D (-9 percentage points) and an increase in Mindanao (+16 percentage points). As regards the latter’s indecision figures, they go up in the rest of Luzon (+22 percentage points) and Class D (+8 percentage points).

Filipinos’ assessment of the performance and trustworthiness of Supreme Court Chief Justice Bersamin remains essentially unchanged between June and September 2019 not only at the national level but also across geographic areas and socio-economic classes. In the case of House Speaker Cayetano, there are no comparative figures for him during this period because, as he assumed his post only in July 2019 and was, therefore, not included in the performance and trust probes in June 2019.