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Pulse Asia Research, Inc. is pleased to share with you some findings on the Performance and Trust Ratings of Key Government Officials and Institutions from the December 2018 Ulat ng Bayan national survey. We request you to assist us in informing the public by disseminating this information.

The survey fieldwork was conducted from December 14 – 21, 2018 using face-to-face interviews. In the weeks leading up to the fieldwork for this survey and during the actual conduct of the interviews, the following local and international developments dominated the headlines:

Several key developments preoccupied Filipinos during the weeks immediately leading up to and during the survey period. These include the following:

1. The decision of the 5th Division of the Sandiganbayan finding former First Lady and incumbent Ilocos Norte Representative Imelda Marcos guilty of graft and sentencing her to serve six (6) to 11 years in prison for each of the seven (7) counts of anti-corruption law violations arising from the funneling of about US$ 200 M to Swiss foundations she created while serving as the Metropolitan Manila Governor while her husband, former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, was in office;

2. The acquittal by the Sandiganbayan of former Senator Ramon Revilla, Jr. of plunder in connection with his alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam although it ordered him to return P 124.5 M to the National Treasury; on the other hand, Ms. Janet Lim-Napoles and Mr. Richard Cambe, the ex-lawmaker’s aide, were found guilty and given a prison sentence of up to 40 years each;

3. The approval by the House of Representatives, via a vote of 224-22-3, on third and final reading of the Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 15 that seeks to shift the country to a federal system of government but does not specify the number of federal states;

4. The conviction of the three (3) police officers accused of killing Kian delos Santos in August 2017 by the Caloocan City Regional Trial Court (RTC) and the order for them to pay the victim’s family P 345,000 in damages; President Rodrigo R. Duterte said he will not pardon these police officers because he will only defend law enforcers who fulfill their duties according to the law;

5. The approval by Congress, through a vote of 235-28-1, of the third extension of the declaration of martial law in Mindanao to 31 December 2019 despite criticisms that the continued implementation of martial rule in the area has resulted in human rights violations;

6. The passage by the Lower House on third and final reading of the General Appropriations Act (GAA) through a 196-8 vote; the total budget for 2019 is P 3.757 T, higher by 13% than the 2018 cash-based equivalent budget of P 3.324 T; lawmakers critical of the national budget claim it contained illegal pork barrel bunds and cuts on social services; however, the Senate failed to approve the national budget in time and hence, the government will be operating under a reenacted budget until February 2019;

7. The questioning of Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Benjamin Diokno by House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya, Jr. concerning the alleged insertions in the 2019 national budget, particularly the P 51 B worth of projects included in the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH); the DBM Secretary pointed out that the so-called insertion is an augmentation of the P 480 B budget of the DPWH already approved by the Duterte administration and that the amount involved is actually P 75 B and not P 51 B; in this connection, while House lawmakers called on President Duterte to fire DBM Secretary Diokno for “merging” his family’s interests with that of the public, their counterparts in the Senate defended the latter by saying he is doing a good job and describing him as “a man of integrity” and Malacañang Palace asserted that he continues to enjoy the President’s trust;

8. Senator Panfilo Lacson’s claim that in addition to the P 2.4 B fund insertions in the budget allocated to the district of House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the P 1.9 B for the district of House Majority Leader Andaya, several districts in Bohol, Surigao, and other areas in the Visayas and Mindanao whose representatives are close to the House Speaker also received huge allocations in the 2019 budget;

9. The proposal to abolish the Road Board that controls the road user’s tax and is a huge source of kickbacks by lawmakers; Malacañang and the Senate are in favor of doing away with the Road Board due to reports of anomalies and irregularities within the agency while the Lower House, under the leadership of House Speaker Macapagal-Arroyo, passed a motion voiding a bill abolishing the Road Board that had been approved by the body earlier during former House Speaker Alvarez’s term;

10. The historical state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Philippines from 20 to 22 November 2018 during which both presidents agreed to forge a “comprehensive, strategic cooperation” between their countries; several deals were signed during the state visit, including one on cooperation in oil and gas development;

11. The decision by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to name Udenna-China Telecom as the provisional third telecommunications company in the country following the launching of the Duterte administration’s initiative to look for a third company to end the duopoly of PLDT, Inc. and Globe Telecom; Udenna is owned by Mr. Dennis Uy, a known ally of President Duterte while China Telecom is the third largest telecommunications company in China;

12. President Duterte’s approval of the recommendation of his economic managers to proceed with the implementation of the P 2 hike in fuel excise tax beginning 01 January 2019 amidst the drop in world crude prices;

13. Changes in the national administration, particularly the appointment of Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin as the country’s 25th SC Chief Justice, of Senator Gregorio Honasan as the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary, of former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Eduardo Año as the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary, of former Philippine Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Teodoro Locsin, Jr. as the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary, of Davao City Representative Karlo Nograles as Cabinet Secretary, of Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal as AFP Chief of Staff, and of former AFP Chief of Staff Carlito Galvez, Jr. as the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process;

14. The arrest of former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo, ACT Teacher Party List Representative France Castro, and 16 others in Talaingod, Davao del Norte on 28 November 2018 for alleged human trafficking, kidnapping, and child abuse; they were freed on 01 December 2018 after posting a total bail of P 1.452 M; the former legislator said his group were in the area to bring food and other supplies to a Lumad school;

15. The announcement made by NEDA Director General Ernesto Pernia that due to high prices which led consumers to cut down on purchases of food and other essential items, the overall national economic growth during the 3rd quarter of 2018 was at 6.1%, a 3-year low; this period saw a reduction in household consumption, specifically on food that went down from 6.2% in the 2nd quarter to 2.8% in the 3rd quarter;

16. The controversial remarks made by President Duterte that Filipino Catholics should put his photo on their altars and worship him – Santo Rodrigo – instead of the Church’s saints that are drunkards, that 90% of priests are homosexuals, that all fixers in the Bureau of Customs (BOC) should be killed, that he will deploy “assassination teams” or “death squads” to kill alleged hitmen and sympathizers of the New People’s Army (ARMY), and that he takes marijuana to stay awake during strenuous activities such as the string of meetings and dialogues he needs to attend during events like the recently-concluded Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summits in Singapore and Papua New Guinea, respectively;

17. Other developments during this time include the commemoration of the 155th birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio in Caloocan City; the President’s move to revive the Reserved Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program to include not only college students but senior high school students as well; the Senate investigation into the influx of undocumented foreign workers, particularly Chinese, and the raids conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) which led to the arrest of several Chinese online gambling workers; the turnover of the Balangiga Bells from the United States (US) to the Philippines on 12 December 2018; the issuance of a warrant of arrest against Senator Antonio Trillanes IV in connection with the libel cases filed against him by former Davao City Vice-Mayor Paolo Duterte and Atty. Manases Carpio arising from the lawmaker’s allegation that the latter were involved in the P 6.4 M shabu shipment that slipped past the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in May 2017; the decline in inflation from 6.7% in October 2018 to 6.0% in November 2018 due to decreasing average consumer prices; the P 25 increase in the minimum wage in Metro Manila effective 22 November 2018; the increase in electricity charges of Manila Electric Company (Meralco) in November and December 2018 primarily due to higher power prices for contracted supply and from independent power producers; the inclusion of Rappler Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Maria Ressa as part of “The Guardians”, a group of journalists who have been targeted because of their work, that TIME magazine recognized as its “Person of the Year”; the victory of Ms. Catriona Gray at the Ms. Universe pageant held in Thailand; the start of the Simbang Gabi marked by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle’s call for those in power not to use their position to bully others; the bullying videos involving a junior high school student from the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) that went viral and which led to calls for an investigation into the matter; and in the international arena, the return of the Democrats to the House of Representatives following the 06 November 2018 midterm elections in the United States (US) and the no-confidence vote that British Prime Minister (PM) Theresa May survived via a 200-117 party-only vote amidst increasing criticism of her Brexit deal.

As in our previous Ulat ng Bayan surveys, this nationwide survey is based on a sample of 1,800 representative adults 18 years old and above. It has a +2.3% error margin at the 95% confidence level. Subnational estimates for the geographic areas covered in the survey have the following error margins at 95% confidence level: +6.5% for Metro Manila

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Three (3) of the country’s top government officials enjoy majority approval and trust ratings in December 2018; there are few changes in these officials’ performance and trust ratings between September and December 2018

Most Filipinos express appreciation for the performance of President Rodrigo R. Duterte (81%), Vice-President Maria Leonor G. Robredo (62%), and Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III (74%). In contrast, a big plurality of Filipinos (43%) are critical of the work done by House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Levels of indecision regarding the performance of these national government officials range from 13% for President Duterte to 30% for House Speaker Macapagal-Arroyo. Between September and December 2018, the only notable movement in these figures is the increase in the approval rating of President Duterte (+6 percentage points).[1] (Please refer to Tables 1 and 5.)

Meanwhile, majority trust scores are also recorded by President Duterte (76%), Vice-President Robredo (56%), and Senate President Sotto (66%). Similarly, distrust is the plurality public sentiment toward House Speaker Macapagal-Arroyo (45%). Ambivalence on the matter of trusting or distrusting these officials is most marked toward the latter (34%) and least pronounced toward President Duterte (17%). These national figures are essentially the same as those recorded by Pulse Asia Research in September 2018. (Please refer to Tables 2 and 6.)

Just as President Duterte scores majority approval and trust ratings across geographic areas (69% to 96% and 67% to 91%, respectively) and socio-economic groupings (78% to 87% and 74% to 82%, respectively), Senate President Sotto also has the approval and trust of most Filipinos in the different geographic areas (66% to 77% and 60% to 73%, respectively) and socio-economic classes (72% to 74% and 63% to 68%, respectively). As for Vice-President Robredo, she registers majority approval and trust ratings in most geographic areas (64% to 70% and 55% to 60%, respectively) and Classes D and E (61% to 72% and 55% to 62%, respectively). The latter also has a majority approval rating in Class ABC (56%). However, less than half of those in this socio-economic grouping trust the Vice-President (49%). (Please refer to Tables 3 to 4.)

The only majority figure obtained by the House Speaker is her 52% distrust rating in Metro Manila. Big pluralities to near majorities in the rest of Luzon (43% and 46%, respectively), the Visayas (47% and 49%, respectively), and Class D (44% and 46%, respectively) are critical of and distrust House Speaker Macapagal-Arroyo. Around the same percentages either disapprove of or are undecided about the latter’s performance in Metro Manila (46% versus 38%) and Class ABC (39% versus 32%) while she records essentially the same distrust and indecision figures in Mindanao (37% versus 38%), Class ABC (47% versus 31%), and Class E (42% versus 40%). Public assessment of the lawmaker’s performance is split three (3) ways in Mindanao and Class ABC with 29% to 33% being appreciative of what she did in the past quarter, 29% to 32% expressing ambivalence on the matter, and 38% to 39% having a negative opinion about it.

Across geographic areas and socio-economic classes, improvements in the approval ratings of President Duterte (+8 percentage points), Vice-President Robredo (+8 percentage points), and Senate President Sotto (+8 percentage points) occur in the rest of Luzon. These are the only notable changes as far as these government officials’ performance ratings are concerned. In terms of their trustworthiness, Senate President Sotto enjoys an increase in his trust score in the rest of Luzon (+8 percentage points) but Vice-President Robredo’s own rating declines in the Visayas (-16 percentage points). Ambivalence regarding the trustworthiness of the latter becomes more pronounced in Metro Manila (+13 percentage points) and her distrust rating among Visayans also moves in the same direction (+14 percentage points). With regard to Senate President Sotto, more indecision on the matter of trusting or distrusting him may be observed in Mindanao (+10 percentage points) while the reverse holds true in Class ABC (-18 percentage points). Less ambivalence concerning the trustworthiness of House Speaker Macapagal-Arroyo is expressed by those in Class D (-6 percentage points). (Please refer to Tables 5 to 6.)

Approval and trust are the majority sentiments toward Congress and the Supreme Court; significant movements in the performance and trust ratings of these government institutions are recorded between September and December 2018 and during the period June to December 2018, respectively

Practically the same majority approval and trust ratings are obtained by the Senate (69% and 65%, respectively), the House of Representatives (66% and 64%, respectively), and the Supreme Court (64% and 62%, respectively) at the national level. Furthermore, these key institutions of the national government register majority approval ratings in all geographic areas and socio-economic classes – Senate (58% to 75% and 68% to 75%, respectively), House of Representatives (57% to 71% and 65% to 72%, respectively), and Supreme Court (59% to 72% and 63% to 69%, respectively). The same observation may be made with regard to their trust ratings – Senate (60% to 72% and 64% to 69%, respectively), House of Representatives (61% to 71% and 62% to 71%, respectively), and Supreme Court (58% to 71% and 58% to 66%, respectively). (Please refer to Tables 7 to 8.)

 Nearly the same percentages of Filipinos are ambivalent toward the performance and trustworthiness of the Senate (24% and 30%, respectively), the Lower House (27% and 31%, respectively), and the Supreme Court (27% and 32%, respectively). These entities score single-digit overall disapproval and distrust ratings – Senate (6% and 5%, respectively), House of Representatives (7% and 5%, respectively), and Supreme Court (9% and 6%, respectively).

During the period September to December 2018, gains in public approval are experienced by the Senate (+6 percentage points), the Lower House (+10 percentage points), and the Supreme Court (+12 percentage points). Similar trends occur in the rest of Luzon (+8 to +11 percentage points) and the Visayas (+11 to +23 percentage points). In Mindanao and Class ABC, only the Supreme Court registers improvements in its approval scores (+12 and +21 percentage points, respectively). The approval ratings of the Lower House and the Supreme Court increase in Class D (+9 and +12 percentage points, respectively) while both Houses of Congress enjoy an increase in their approval figures in Class E (+14 to +15 percentage points). (Please refer to Tables 9 to 10.)

Ambivalence concerning the work of these institutions becomes less notable between September and December 2018 (-5 to -11 percentage points). Indecision toward the performance of the Supreme Court eases in the rest of Luzon (-12 percentage points), the Visayas (-16 percentage points), Class ABC (-24 percentage points), and Class D (-10 percentage points). As for the House of Representatives, its indecision figure in Class D goes down (-7 percentage points).

In terms of the trustworthiness of these entities, the only marked movements are the: (1) increase in trust ratings of the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court in the Visayas (both at +11 percentage points); (2) gain in public trust experienced by the High Court in Class D (+7 percentage points); and (3) drop in indecision figures recorded by the Supreme Court in the Visayas (-11 percentage points) and Class D (-9 percentage points).


[1]No comparative performance data is available for House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo because she was not included in the performance probe in the September 2018 Ulat ng Bayan survey. The latter assumed the House leadership on 23 July 2018, less than three (3) months before the said survey was conducted. The performance probe only includes selected government officials who have been in their current post for at least three (3) months.