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Belmonte is 1st admin stalwart to get negative SWS ratings

NEGATIVE RATINGS. Speaker Feliciano 'Sonny' Belmonte Jr suffers his lowest satisfaction ratings since he assumed the House leadership.

NEGATIVE RATINGS. Speaker Feliciano 'Sonny' Belmonte Jr suffers his lowest satisfaction ratings since he assumed the House leadership.

MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte Jr recorded a net satisfaction rating of -1 in the March 2014 survey of Social Weather Stations (SWS), making him the first among key stalwarts of the 4-year-old Aquino administration to obtain a negative net satisfaction rating. 

This is a "dangerous sign" for the administration of President Benigno Aquino III, according to political analyst Allen Surla of the De La Salle University (DLSU) political science department.  Administration figures have been suffering a downward trend in surveys and it could be worse in the next surveys, which will capture growing public  anger on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

"We have less than two years [left] in the ballgame. You are supposed to be like Vice President Jejomar Binay who is accumulating positive points. In the case of Speaker Belmonte, he is continously declining and breaching zero neutral and he's going negative. He is in big trouble. It's the same for the other administration figures," Surla told Rappler. 

It's a 17-point drop from Belmonte's +16 net satisfaction ratings in December 2013. He registered a satisfaction rating of 32% – 9 points lower than his December ratings. His dissatisfaction rating was also about 32% – a 7-point increase over the same period.

(The net satisfaction rating is the difference between the satisfaction and dissatisfaction ratings. The numbers are rounded off. The SWS release doesn't include a breakdown of the survey results for Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.)

Senate President Franklin Drilon is down to +17 from +25 net satisfaction ratings, while Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, an appointee of President Benigno Aquino III, is down to +4 from +16. 

The survey was conducted from March 27-30, around the time the country was discussing, among others, the hospital arrest for alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles, allegations that the administration is protecting its allies from the scandal, and the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

The survey period doesn't cover developments leading to the arrest of Senators Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr, Jinggoy Estrada, and Juan Ponce Enrile; and their alleged accomplices in the pork barrel mess.

Belmonte as 'protector' of congressmen

Belmonte suffered the biggest blow in the SWS survey even if he was not implicated in the pork barrel controversy. Drilon, on the other hand, has been linked to Napoles, which the senator has denied. 

"Maybe I'm too low key or I'm being lumped with those with pork problems as House Speaker. It comes with the turf, I guess," Belmonte told Rappler in a text message. 

"It's the first time [for me] to hit negative in my political life," Belmonte added.

Surla said the House leader has been perceived as the "protector" of the lawmakers dragged into the alleged scam especially because these lawmakers have identified with the Liberal Party. 

Communications strategist Yolanda Ong added, "I think that Speaker Belmonte may be bearing the brunt of Congress pork abusers plus the perception that Congress is PNoy's [puppet]."

In contrast, the senators implicated in the alleged scam are not allies of Drilon.

Screenshot of SWS survey

Belmonte became House Speaker in 2001, following the EDSA 2 revolution that installed President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. He would serve 3 terms as Quezon City mayor before returning to the House of Representatives in 2010.

The former Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrat (Lakas-CMD) stalwart was recruited by Aquino's Liberal Party (LP) at the height of the 2010 presidential elections.

Belmonte's predecessor, former Davao representative Prospero Nograles, suffered double-digit negative net satisfaction ratings – as low as -22 – from the time he wrested the speakership from former Pangasinan representative Jose De Venecia in June 2008, until he finished his 3rd term in 2010.

Belmonte enjoyed his highest rating in August 2012, when he had a net satisfaction rating of +20.

The House of Representatives as an insitution registered a higher net satisfaction rating of +26 in the March 2014 survey, with 45% of respondents satisfied and 26% dissatisfied. (Ratings are rounded off.)

The Senate as an institution onbtained a net satisfaction rating of 26%. About 54% are satisfied and 29% are dissatisfied. – Rappler.com