Bayan News

September 2020 Nationwide Survey on the National Administration and the President’s Handling of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Pulse Asia Research, Inc. is pleased to share with you some findings on the National Administration and the President’s Handling of the COVID-19 Pandemic from the September 2020 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 14 to 20, 2020 using face-to-face interviews.

Among the key developments that dominated the news headlines immediately prior to and during the conduct of the interviews for this survey are the following:

1. The resignation of Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ricardo Morales on 26 August 2020, amidst allegations of massive corruption within the agency, and the subsequent appointment of ex-National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Dante Gierran as the new head of PhilHealth; President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s marching orders for the latter is to clean up the corruption-ridden agency by December 2020;

2. The release of the initial findings of the Task Force PhilHealth led by the Department of Justice (DOJ) recommending the filing of criminal complaints against several PhilHealth officials including former PhilHealth President and CEO Morales but not against Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III, who is the head of the PhilHealth board, and PhilHealth Senior Vice-President for the Legal Sector Rodolfo del Rosario, Jr.; DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra clarified that the task force will continue its investigations into the matter and this will hopefully uncover other personalities involved in the irregularities who should also be charged;

3. The findings of the Senate Committee of the Whole in connection with its investigation into the alleged irregularities inside PhilHealth and its recommendation to file malversation, graft, and other criminal charges against Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III, former PhilHealth President and CEO Morales, and other health officials; amidst calls for the resignation of DOH Secretary Duque, President Duterte reiterated his expression of trust in the embattled official, a move criticized by Senate President Vicente Sotto III; for its part, the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) said that the DOH Secretary is not yet completely “off the hook” as the investigation into the matter is still ongoing;

4. The decision of President Duterte to place Metro Manila under general community quarantine (GCQ) from 01 to 30 September 2020 as recommended by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID); also placed under GCQ were Bulacan, Batangas, Tacloban City, and Bacolod City while Iligan City reverted to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) due to the rise in reported COVID-19 cases in the area; the rest of the Philippines remains under modified GCQ status;

5. The signing into law of the “Bayanihan to Recover as One” Act by President Duterte on 11 September 2020; the law extends to 19 December 2020 the special powers granted to the President to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and provides a fund amounting to P 165.5 billion to address the health crisis; although Vice-President Maria Leonor G. Robredo welcomed the passage of the law, she lamented that the amount allocated for pandemic response remains insufficient and called on the administration to spend more and spend efficiently to help those affected by the health crisis;

6. The claims made by Senators Franklin Drilon and Risa Hontiveros concerning reported irregularities in the procurement of COVID-19 testing kits, medical equipment, and personal protective equipment (PPE) by the Duterte administration; Senator Drilon said P 422 million could have been saved if only the administration exercised due diligence in its purchase of testing kits and medical equipment while Senator Hontiveros claimed that at least P 1 billion may have been lost due to purchases of overpriced PPEs from five (5) Chinese companies instead of local suppliers; DBM Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao denied these allegations and has requested documentary proof to support these “unfair” claims;

7. The issuance of Proclamation No. 1021 on 16 September 2020 that extends the declaration of a state of calamity in the Philippines from 13 September 2020 to 12 September 2021; the initial state of calamity due to the COVID-19 crisis, that lasted for six (6) months, was declared by President Duterte back in March 2020;

8. The disclosure made by Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlo G. Dominguez III before the House Appropriations Committee on 04 September 2020 that government borrowings from local and foreign sources for the period January to July 2020 have reached P 1.86 trillion, an amount almost equal to the total government borrowings for the previous couple of years; the DOF Secretary projects that government borrowings will surpass P 3 trillion by the end of the year, due largely to the COVID-19 pandemic;

9. The deferment of class opening in public schools from 24 August 2020 to 05 October 2020 as recommended by the Department of Education (DepEd) to enable schools and students alike to better prepare for blended learning; the DepEd also announced that 748 private schools have temporarily suspended their operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a move affecting 3,233 teachers and 40,345 students; as of 09 September 2020, enrollment in private schools has fallen by more than 50% while enrollment in public schools is lower by 3 million compared to the 27.7 million figure in 2019;

10. The public backlash against the “white sand” beach project of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) along a 120-meter strip of Manila Bay that cost the government P 389 million and is supposed to be part of efforts to rehabilitate the area; various environmental groups have warned that the material used for the project could be hazardous to human and marine life while several government officials pointed out that the funds used for the project could have been allocated for more urgent needs such as online learning resources for students and teachers as well as assistance for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic; the lack of crowd control and failure to implement strict health protocols during the public launching of the project on 19 September 2020 led to the sacking of the Manila Police District (MPD) officer in charge of the Manila Bay area;

11. The nixing of the move by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to reduce the physical distancing requirement in public utility vehicles from 1 meter to 0.75 meter beginning 14 September 2020 in order to assist in the opening up on the economy; following negative feedback from health experts and other concerned entities, the President decided to retain the 1-meter physical distancing rule in all forms of public transportation across the country;

12. The decision of the IATF-EID to order the closure of cemeteries, columbariums, and memorial parks nationwide from 29 October to 04 November 2020 nationwide in order to control the spread of the novel coronavirus across the country; and

13. The deportation of US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton on 13 September 2020 after President Duterte granted him absolute pardon in connection with the killing of Jeffrey “Jennifer” Lauder in October 2014; contrary to the claim of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, who served as the Laude family’s legal counsel during the trial, that Lance Cpl. Pemberton will face court martial proceedings in the US, a US Marine Corps representative clarified that the latter will not face a second trial upon his arrival in the US but will instead be processed for administrative discharge.

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)

Pulse Asia Research’s pool of academic fellows takes full responsibility for the design and conduct of the survey, as well as for analyses it makes based on the survey data. In keeping with our academic nature, no religious, political, economic, or partisan group influenced any of these processes. Pulse Asia Research undertakes Ulat ng Bayan surveys on its own without any party singularly commissioning the research effort.

For any clarification or questions, kindly contact Ana Maria Tabunda, Research Director of Pulse Asia Research at 09189436816 or Ronald D. Holmes, Pulse Asia Research President via Viber or Telegram at +639189335497 or at ronald.holmes@gmail.com (via email.).

Approval is the prevailing opinion among Filipinos toward the efforts of the national administration and President Rodrigo R. Duterte to deal with the continuing COVID-19 pandemic

About eight (8) out of every 10 Filipinos (84%) have a positive opinion about the work done by the Duterte administration to control the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and to provide assistance to those who lost their livelihood or job due to the pandemic. In particular, small majorities of Filipinos somewhat approve of the performance of the present dispensation as far as the issues are concerned (51% and 53%, respectively). Furthermore, approval is the majority sentiment across geographic areas (78% to 86% and 75% to 91%, respectively) and socio-economic classes (84% to 85% and 74% to 91%, respectively). It may be noted that Mindanawons are more inclined to approve of the Duterte administration’s efforts to assist those who lost their sources of income as a result of the pandemic compared to Metro Manilans (91% versus 75%). (Please refer to Table 1.)

At the national level, the Duterte administration registers single-digit disapproval ratings in terms of its initiatives to control the spread of the novel coronavirus (6%) and to help Filipinos who lost their sources of income due to the pandemic (7%). Meanwhile, ambivalence concerning the administration’s handling of these issues is expressed by 10% and 9% of Filipinos, respectively. The figures recorded across geographic areas and socio-economic groupings do not differ significantly from the national ratings.

For 92% of Filipinos, President Rodrigo R. Duterte has done well in terms of preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the country. More specifically, 62% of Filipinos truly approve of presidential performance as far as this issue is concerned while 30% somewhat approve of the same. The rest of Filipinos either disapprove of the President’s performance (3%) or express indecision on the matter (5%). Across geographic areas and socio-economic classes, President Duterte posts huge majority approval ratings (87% to 98% and 78% to 95%, respectively). More specifically, most Filipinos across these subgroupings are truly appreciative of the President’s work in the area of preventing the spread of COVID-19 (54% to 79% and 52% for 64%, respectively). (Please refer to Table 2.)

Nearly all Filipinos (97%) are worried about contracting COVID-19 and essentially every one is doing something to avoid catching the illness

In mid-September 2020, 97% of Filipinos express concern about getting sick due to the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. More particularly, 84% of Filipinos are very much worried while 13% are somewhat worried about contracting COVID-19. Across geographic areas and socio-economic classes, the prevailing sentiment on the matter is one of worry (95% to 98% and 92% to 99%, respectively), with overwhelming majorities being very much worried about getting COVID-19 (81% to 91% and 70% to 87%, respectively). Only 2% of Filipinos are not worried about contracting COVID-19 while indecision on the matter is expressed by 1%. (Please refer to Table 3.)

A big majority of Filipinos (71%) regularly clean their hands with soap or alcohol/hand sanitizer to avoid getting COVID-19 – an act reported by most Filipinos in the different geographic areas and socio-economic groupings (69% to 76% and 59% to 75%, respectively). Another measure undertaken by most Filipinos to protect themselves from COVID-19 is to use face masks (55%). This is reported by small majorities in all geographic areas (52% to 57%) and Classes ABC and D (both at 55%). (Please refer to Table 4.)

A second set of measures done by Filipinos includes observing physical or social distancing (33%), staying at home unless it is necessary to go out (32%), and avoiding crowded places (28%). A quarter of Filipinos (25%) make an effort to avoid people who are sick. Meanwhile, covering one’s nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing (15%), praying (14%), and taking vitamins (14%) comprise a fourth group of safety precautions undertaken by Filipinos. The least often mentioned measures are avoiding domestic or international travel (6% and 2%, respectively) and consulting a doctor or a healthcare provider when unwell (3%). Volunteered responses are each cited by less than 1% of Filipinos.