MANILA, Philippines – They were both on an equal footing, considering the error margins. President Benigno Aquino III and Vice President Jejomar Binay enjoyed 60% and 58% net satisfaction ratings, respectively, in the September 2010 Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey. It was 3 months since they assumed office.
The same figures appeared in the October 2010 Pulse Asia survey. The President and Vice President enjoyed a high of 79% and 78% approval ratings, respectively.
A year and 6 months later, they are miles apart. President Aquino dropped to 49% in the March 2012 SWS survey while Binay rose to a high of 70%. Again, it’s the same trend in the Pulse Asia February survey. The President dropped to 70% while Binay rose to 84%.
What did Binay do to impress the public so much, allowing him to overtake President Aquino?
“No particular advocacy right now is helping Binay. It’s just the right mix of support for President Aquino and keeping a low profile,” Pulse Asia chief research fellow Ana Tabunda told Rappler.
Binay has stayed away from controversial issues like the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona. Unlike President Aquino who openly supports the impeachment of the Chief Justice, Binay refuses to make public statements about his position.
Tabunda said there’s nothing surprising in President Aquino’s fall and Binay’s rise in the surveys.
“It is easier for the Vice President to have higher performance and trust ratings than the President since the responsibilities of the position are not as great as that of the President. Hence, less chances of failing to meet people’s expectations,” Tabunda explained.
On the other hand, President Aquino faces the same problem that challenged President Arroyo. Government is touting economic growth but it’s not filtering down to ordinary folks. “That is what is resulting in lower performance and trust ratings for PNoy,” said Tabunda.
Analysts have attributed President Aquino’s latest drop in the surveys to the government’s failure to address the oil price increases.
History: VPs win in surveys
In the Philippines, vice-presidents generally fare better in surveys compared to presidents, especially towards the end of their 6-year terms. It’s the trend, based on SWS surveys.
Estrada remains the most popular vice-president ever, based on SWS surveys. He reached as high as 87% net satisfaction ratings. But Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo overtook Estrada in the surveys when he became president. Similarly, Vice President Noli De Castro overtook Arroyo when she became president.
The exceptions are Vice Presidents Jose Laurel and Teofisto Guingona. Both served after Edsa revolutions that ousted Philippine presidents. Laurel served under the late President Corazon Aquino, who was installed in 1986 after the first Edsa People Power revolution. Guingona was appointed (not elected) by former President Arroyo, who was the constitutional successor when President Estrada was ousted in the 2001 Edsa People Power movement.
Eyes on 2016
Political players are closely watching Binay because his political party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) has openly declared his candidacy in the 2016 presidential elections.
Binay initially planned to run in the 2010 presidential elections, but he slid down to make way for President Aquino. Although they now belong to opposing political parties, Binay and the Aquinos are long-time allies.
Binay is actively building his political network. For the 2013 midterm senatorial elections, PDP-Laban has coalesced with President Estrada’s Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino to form the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA). UNA will potentially clash with the administration’s senatorial ticket.
Binay has been going around the country and has taken on the causes of Overseas Filipino Workers.
“I imagine his being the first to be there in disaster areas, plus his diligence visiting provinces will eventually pay electoral dividends,” Tabunda said. – Rappler.com