MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos are satisfied with efforts of the Aquino administration to address corruption, and this could be fueling President Aquino’s aggressive pursuit of his predecessor and the Supreme Court that he thinks is protecting her.
They are giving him three years to make good his campaign promises.
Aquino’s team defined his campaign’s central message in 2010, linking poverty with corruption. This gave birth to the winning slogan, “Kung Walang Corrupt, Walang Mahirap,” which captured the prevailing political sentiment at the time.
During the term of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo accusations of electoral cheating and allegations of corruption flew thick and fast. Citizens thus expected the elected president in 2010 to make a significant dent in the fight against corruption and then show that this will lead to improved standards of living.
An October 2011 poll conducted by Laylo Research Strategies reveals that a slim majority or 56% are satisfied with government efforts to deal with corruption, while a slightly lower 54% are content with its anti-poverty achievements.
The survey, conducted from October 20-30, 2011, covered 1,500 respondents nationwide. It asked four questions to measure public regard for Aquino. First, does the public approve of how he leads the country? Second, is the public satisfied with his performance as president? Third, does the public trust him as a person? And fourth, is there public support for his administration?
Aquino’s approval rating stands at a high 69%, with 21% undecided, and 10% disapproving of how he leads the country. His satisfaction rating is at 64%, with 24% undecided and 12% dissatisfied with his performance as president.
At least 65% trust him compared to 25% who are undecided, and 7% who distrust him. His support rating remains at a high 72%, with 22% undecided and only 6% unsupportive of his administration. The survey has an error margin of 2.6% for the total Philippine sample.
[A series of Laylo Reports, based on results of non-commissioned items in the nationwide polls conducted by Laylo Research Strategies, will be published every quarter exclusively by Rapper]
Aquino’s publics can be categorized into five:
1) hardcore supporters
5) hardcore opposition
The hardcore supporters are the die-hards, the allies are the admirers, the neutrals are the fence sitters, the critics are the complainers, and the hardcore oppositionists are the antagonists.
As of October 2011 there are: 11% hardcore supporters, 53% allies, 32% neutrals, 4% critics and 1% hardcore opposition. Leaders are often careful that allies don’t abandon them and that neutrals don’t turn into critics or antagonists.
What matters to these five groups?
Nationwide: only 35% are saying we are on the right path, 39% are undecided, 27% are saying we are headed in the wrong direction. Majorities may be generally content with Aquino as their president, but not necessarily with the direction the country is taking.
As expected, hardcore supporters mirror rosy figures; allies tend to be positive; neutrals tend to be undecided but lean towards the negative; critics and the opposition are understandably pessimistic.
What are their reasons for being so? Anti-corruption efforts are lauded by most of those who say we are headed in the right direction. A feeling that the country is still in turmoil (“Magulo pa rin ang bansa”) and high prices of goods are the top reasons cited by those who say we are headed in the wrong direction. Regardless of how they perceive Aquino, the reasons are the same.
The public also identifies three major concerns that should be addressed by government—unemployment, high prices and corruption—in that order.
The hardcore supporters and the hardcore opposition are one in pointing out that unemployment is their major concern. Allies reflect the national pattern. Neutrals are equally divided about their concern for unemployment and high prices. Critics are more anxious about high prices.
In general, higher levels of satisfaction with anti-corruption and anti-poverty efforts are evident among those with a more favorable evaluation of Aquino. Hardcore supporters tend to be more confident than other groups that the administration will be able to address these by 2013.
Again depending on the degree of sympathy or support for Aquino, leeway is also being given him to address what is regarded as the country’s most important problem. Given his six-year term, the public expects that in three years, their concerns would have been addressed. The die-hards tend to be more lenient compared to the others.
What would ultimately make them lose confidence in Aquino? What tops the “unaided” list is corruption. Any corrupt act attributed to him or government officials under his administration would make them lose confidence in Aquino.
The other issues that can eventually pull down his ratings are unresolved problems in prices, food supply, and education. Interestingly, 1% mention losing confidence in Aquino if former President Arroyo and her husband Mike are not put in jail. 1% also mention an unresolved Hacienda Luisita issue, and another 1% cite his smoking and his predisposition to fool around with girls, as added factors.
The News Factor
Are Pinoys attentive to news about Aquino? There are about 3 in 10 who always follow news about him; 4 in 10 sometimes monitor this; 2 in 10 rarely bother. Critics and hardcore oppositionists have a greater tendency to ignore him.
Most say they hear a mix of positive and negative news, although a higher incidence of negative news exposure is apparent among critics and hardcore oppositionists.
A very big majority of 78% cites TV news programs as the most trusted source of information about what is happening in the country. Only 10% mention radio; an equal number of 2% cite TV commentaries and newspapers each. 1% each cite radio commentaries, the Internet, word of mouth, family or friends, church leaders, and local officials. The hardcore opposition revert more to what family or friends say.
Pinoys are already feeling the weight of the economic crunch and expect unemployment and high prices to be addressed, too. They would detest any disruption in their lives as Aquino strives to effectively address the twin ills of graft and poverty.
Given recent political developments, particularly events leading to the arrest warrant issued by a Pasay Regional Trial Court, will there be movement in Aquino’s ratings? An upward swing in any poll conducted in December is likely—given bold declarations and steps made by government in its campaign against corruption.