After PDAF scam, NCR trusts Senate more

Carmela Fonbuena

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After PDAF scam, NCR trusts Senate more
Metro Manilans have 'softened' on the Senate, where 24 members used to enjoy P200M each of the much maligned fund, and where 3 are facing plunder complaints for its alleged misuse

MANILA, Philippines – Metro Manila hosted various protest rallies against the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel last year, notably at the Luneta Park where the August 2013 #MillionPeopleMarch was centered.

What has happened since then? Residents of Metro Manila have, in the words of Pulse Asia research fellow Ana Tabunda, “softened” on the Senate, where 24 senators used to annually enjoy P200 million of the much maligned pork barrel, and where 3 members are facing plunder complaints for alleged misuse of the fund.

The Senate registed nationwide trust ratings of 42% in the survey conducted December 8-15. It is 6 points higher than its 35% in September.

In the National Capital Region, recorded a significant increase of 13 points, from 35% in September to 48% in December.

The survey has a +/-3% error margin nationwide and +/-6% when geographically broken down. A difference of at least 13 percentage points between surveys would be considered statistically significant. 

The institution that declared the pork barrel unconstitutional, the Supreme Court, suffered curious declines in Luzon excluding Metro Manila (-10) and among ABC demographics (-7). The differences drop in ratings has not reached at least 13 points, however, to be considered significant based on the error margins. 

The Supreme Court was caught in its own mess toward the end of 2013, with reports circulating that a big-time fixer the PDAF scam’s Janet Lim Napoles is operating in the courts. (READ: Probe into Ma’am Arlene, lifestyle of judges)

 Screenshot of Pulse Asia survey

The survey numbers suggest that respondents were able to distinguish the Senate as an institution from the individual senators. There’s no available information on the senator’s individual ratings, however – Pulse Asia polled respondents only on institutions and the top highest ranking government officials: the President, the Vice President, the Chief Justice, the Senate President, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

There were no big stories involving the Senate during the survey period, based on Pulse Asia’s list of headlines. But the faceoff between Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator Miriam Santiago happened shortly before the survey period.

The two senators hurled personal attacks against each other, started by Santiago making allegations that Enrile was the mastermind of the PDAF scam, that he funded the Zamboanga City siege, and that he had an affair with his former chief of staff. Enrile delivered a counter-speech, bringing up two issues that Santiago was most sensitive about: her low ratings in the Bar exams, and her supposed consultations for psychological issues. (READ: Full text: Miriam’s ‘Navigating the crimes of the plunder mastermind’ and Full text: Enrile on Miriam’s ‘lies’ and ‘deep-seated animosity’)

The story of Drilon, Sereno

Senate President Franklin Drilon tells a different story. Drilon suffered a beating in the same survey where his approval ratings dropped 7 points from 50% in September to 43% in December. 

Drilon suffered declines in his approval ratings in Metro Manila (-5), Balance Luzon (-5), and the Visayas (-2), but the changes are statistically insignificant considering the error margin of 6 points. 

He clearly suffered in Mindanao, where he dropped 16 points from 60% in September to 44% in December.

Drilon acknowledged that last year’s constroversies affected his ratings. While he denied knowing alleged PDAF mastermind Janet Napoles well, photos surfaced showing him and his wife partying with the Napoles family. He also tried to block the Senate blue ribbon committee from summoning Napoles to an investigation (READ: Aquino ratings suffer in Luzon; Drilon is biggest loser)

Drilon fared better in his trust ratings. The changes were not statistically significant.

It’s the same curious trend between the Supreme Court and Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. As the institution suffered small declines in its trust ratings, Sereno thrived.

She particularly enjoyed significant improvement in Metro Manila, where her trust ratings registered a huge increase of 13 points from 35% in September to 48% in December.

Drilon and Sereno had about the same approval and trust ratings even when only 77% of Filipinos knows the Chief Justice while 99% knows Drilon. –

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