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Sara Duterte is top-approved, most trusted gov’t official – Pulse poll

Bea Cupin

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Sara Duterte is top-approved, most trusted gov’t official – Pulse poll

Vice President Sara Duterte attends the 2023 National Education Summit at the Sofitel hotel in Pasay City on March 9, 2023.


President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is a close second, enjoying majority approval for his performance and trust ratings in mid-March

MANILA, Philippines – Both President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte are “trusted by most of the country’s adult population,” according to a Pulse Asia survey taken in mid-March 2023.

The March 2023 Ulat ng Bayan nation survey, released on Tuesday, April 11, asked 1,200 adult respondents from March 15 to 19 to rate the performance and their trust towards the five highest-ranking officials in government.

According to the results of the survey, Duterte had the highest approval rating (83%), followed by Marcos with 78%. Congressional leaders Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and House Speaker Martin Romualdez had the same approval rating at 51%. Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo registered an approval rating of 45% in the survey.

Gesmundo, even as he recorded the smaller approval rating, also enjoyed a 16-percentage point rise in his approval numbers from the November 2022 survey.

Zubiri and Marcos saw a 4-percentage point drop, while Romualez saw a 3-percentage point rise. Duterte’s numbers remained mostly unchanged, with a 1-percentage point drop (from 84% in November 2022 to 83% in March 2023).

Only Marcos and Duterte enjoyed majority trust ratings among the top 5 officials, based on the Pulse survey. Duterte had the highest trust rating at 85% with Marcos following closely behind with an 80% trust rating.

Zubiri registered a 48% trust rating while 44% of respondents said they trusted Romualdez. Gesmundo, the biggest gainer since the November 2022 survey, had a trust rating of 39%.

Only Gesmundo saw his trust ratings rise, by 11-percentage points from November 2022. Marcos, Romualdez, and Zubiri saw single-digit drops in trust ratings – three points for Marcos, four for Romualdez, and six for Zubiri. Duterte’s trust numbers were unchanged from the last quarter.

Top issues that dominated headlines prior to the survey included a transport strike in protest of the jeepney modernization program, the House of Representatives’ charter change push, the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo, the sinking of MT Princess Empress and the subsequent damage it caused, developments in the International Criminal Court, the People Power Revolution anniversary, the announcement of additional bases under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, and the push to make Reserve Officers’ Training Corps mandatory, among others. 

Popularity across regions, classes

It’s no surprise that Duterte, daughter of former president Rodrigo Duterte, registered the highest performance and trust ratings in Mindanao, where her clan hails from.

Prior to entering national politics, Sara Duterte was mayor of Davao City – a post her father also once held before he entered national politics by running for president in 2016.

A whopping 98% of Mindanao respondents in March 2023 said they approved of Duterte’s performance – a single-point rise from the November 2022 survey.

Duterte also had high performance approval in Visayas, jumping to 97% in March 2023 from 92% in November 2022. Visayas and Mindanao respondents also said they trusted Duterte (97%).

Duterte also enjoys majority performance approval in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon.

Marcos’ performance numbers were biggest in Visayas (93%) and Mindanao (87%) too. The President, however, saw a drop in his performance ratings in Metro Manila (from 76% to 68%) and Luzon (from 77% to 70%).

His trust ratings were lowest and saw a drop in Metro Manila and Luzon, although a majority of respondents still said they trust the Chief Executive (73% in both Metro Manila and Luzon).

Marcos, Duterte, and Zubiri saw double-digit drops in their performance rating in the ABC class – 12 points for Marcos, 15 for Duterte, and 25 for Zubiri. Romualdez saw an 8-point drop among ABC, while Gesmundo saw a 9 -percentage point rise in the country’s richest. Marcos and Zubiri’s trust ratings also went down by double digits in Class ABC, while it went down single digits for Duterte and Romauldez, compared to the November 2022 survey. Only Gesmundo’s trust ratings went up in Class ABC.

Among Class D, only Romualdez (+3) and Gesmundo (+18) saw a rise in their performance ratings. Marcos and Zubiri’s performance ratings went down 3-percentage points, while Duterte’s went down a point.

Changes in trust ratings among Class D were minimal across the board, save for Gesmundo whose trust ratings went up 12 points for that class.

In contrast, for the country’s poorest or Class E, performance ratings for all officials except Marcos went up. For Duterte, Romualez, and Gesmundo, it was +6 percentage points, while for Zubiri it was +6 percentage points. Marcos’ numbers were unchanged.

The same was true for trust ratings, with Duterte, Zubiri, and Gesmundo seeing single digit (+5, +4, and +8 respectively) rises in Class E. Romualdez saw a 5-percentage point drop, while Marcos’ numbers were unchanged.

Disapproval and trust ratings for both Marcos and Duterte were in single digits across the country.

Both Marcos and Duterte were chosen by a majority of voters in May 2022 – the first for a president and vice president after the People Power revolt in 1986.

They were also the first tandem in almost two decades to win the two highest posts of the land, after Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Noli de Castro in 2004.

Both Zubiri and Romualdez are close allies of Marcos and Duterte. Zubiri ran for reelection under the “Uniteam” coalition bannered by Marcos and Duterte.

Romualdez, meanwhile, is a cousin of Marcos and was Duterte’s co-campaign manager in the 2022 polls. –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.