Unlike predecessors, Duterte gov't has 'no blunder yet' – Sotto

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte has not committed any blunder yet amid controversial pronouncements and actions of the Chief Executive.

Sotto was reacting to a recent Pulse Asia survey showing a decline in Duterte's trust and performance ratings in March 2017.

"Sa klase ng atake, kung sinu-sinong lumitaw na anu-ano sinasabi, dapat less than 50% na [ang ratings niya]. Kung naniniwala mga tao, less than 50% rating [na ngayon]," Sotto said in a press conference on Thursday, April 6.

(With the kinds of attacks against him, with just about anyone surfacing to say all sorts of things, his ratings should have just been less than 50% already. If people really believe it, his ratings should have been less than 50% by now.)

The senator said unlike past administrations, Duterte's government has not yet committed any "blunder" or mistake.

"In the last 9 months ng President, 'pag tinignan mo plus minus [ang] issues, mas maraming plus issues. Kung ikaw pakontra lang, makikita mo masama. Pero compared to previous administrations, less na less ang blunder. May kamalasan na nangyayari [pero] iba 'yung blunder, iba 'yung pagkakamali," Sotto said.

(In the last 9 months of the President, if you look at it, there are plus and minus issues. There are more plus issues. But if you're just against him, you'll see just the negative. But compared to previous administrations, the blunders have been much less. There were misfortunes but committing a blunder is different, committing mistakes is different.)

Sotto cited the Luneta hostage crisis in 2010 as an example of an administration's "misfortune" and the 2015 Mamasapano clash as a "blunder."

"As far as this administration is concerned, ang tingin ko, blunder wala pa eh. Medyo kamalasan meron, with a few issues 'di nagugustuhan ng iba," he said. (As far as this administration is concerned, I think there has been no blunder yet. A few misfortunes, yes, with a few issues that others don't like.)

Last year, however, Duterte released a drug list that contained names of either government officials or personalities who were dead or mistakenly identified. In the administration's war on drugs, there have been reported cases of killings that involved mistaken identity, too. 

Asked about this, Sotto said in a text message: "No national impact ang meaning ko. 'Yung nag-submit sa kanya ang may error. No impact or national effect." (What I meant was there was no national impact. The one who submitted it was at fault. No impact or national effect.)

Cabinet cleansing a plus

Sotto expects that Duterte's recent firing of his Cabinet men would be a "plus point" for him.

Duterte fired former interior secretary Ismael Sueno and former National Irrigation Administration head Peter Laviña for loss of trust and confidence. Sueno and Laviña were part of Duterte's 2016 campaign, and even helped convince him to run for president.

The results of a Pulse Asia survey showed Duterte's trust rating dipping to 76% in March 2017 from 83% in December 2016, and his performance rating also slipping to 78% from 83% in the same period.

The dip in Duterte's nationwide trust and performance ratings is beyond the survey's +/-3 margin of error at the national level. (READ: Trust in Duterte erodes among the poor)

Political events and developments that may have influenced sentiments of respondents include the filing of the first impeachment complaint against Duterte, the Senate hearing where retired Senior Police Officer 3 Arturo Lascañas alleged that Duterte masterminded the Davao Death Squad, the arrest of Senator Leila de Lima on drug charges, the suspension and resumption of the police's involvement in the war on drugs, the approval of the death penalty bill in the House of Representatives, and the murder of South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo inside the Philippine National Police headquarters. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com