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Pulse Asia Research, Inc. is pleased to share with you some findings on the State of the Nation Address (SONA) from the June 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 June 15 – 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:

The following are several of the key developments which dominated the headlines in the weeks prior to and during the conduct of the interviews for this survey:

1. The 19 June 2018 decision of the Supreme Court, via an 8-6 vote, affirming its earlier ruling that led to the ouster of then Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes A. Sereno on the basis of a quo warranto petition filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG);

2. The reversal by Ombudsman Cochita Carpio-Morales of her 03 March 2017 decision clearing former President Benigno S. Aquino III of criminal liability arising from his usurpation of the budgetary powers of Congress in connection with his approval of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP);

3. The start of the regional consultations on the draft federal constitution on 17 June 2018;

4. The conflicting statements of President Rodrigo R. Duterte and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on the West Philippine Sea (WPS) situation, with the President reiterating his no-to-war stance toward China and the DFA Secretary claiming that the former is ready to declare war on China or any other country that attempts to exploit natural resources in the WPS;

5. The approval on third and final reading by the House of Representatives of a bill seeking to strengthen the powers of the OSG;

6. Calls for a wage increase from labor groups and other sectors in the face of the continuing increase in oil prices and the depreciation of the local currency vis-à-vis the American dollar;

7. The remarks made by President Duterte and Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno that suspending the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law will undermine the delivery of basic services and will only do more harm than good to that national economy;

8. President Duterte’s official visit to South Korea from 03 to 05 June 2018 during which he and South Korean President Moon Jae-in affirmed the “special friendship” between their countries;

9. The suspension for three (3) months of the peace negotiations between the Philippines and the National Democratic Front (NDF);

10. The signing into law by President Duterte of the Mental Health Act on 20 June 2018 which seeks to provide state-funded mental health care at the grassroots level and to promote mental health education in schools and workplaces;

11. The killing of Fr. Richmond Nilo in Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija on 10 June 2018 and that of Mayor Ronald Tirol of Buenavista, Bohol on 27 May 2018;

12. The arrest of more than 7,000 loiterers or “tambays” in Metro Manila alone since President Duterte’s 13 June 2018 order for the police to be stricter against loiterers;

13. The statement made by Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra clearing Solicitor General Jose Calida of any wrongdoing in connection with various contracts entered into by a security firm owned by his family with the DOJ;

14. The confirmation by the Commission on Appointments of Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat as the new Department of Tourism (DOT) lead official;

15. The passage on third and final reading of their respective versions of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) by the House of Representatives on 30 May 2018 by a vote of 227 to 11 and by the Senate a day after via a 21-0 vote;

16. The 12 June 2018 peace agreement signed by United States (US) President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un; the transfer of the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; and the withdrawal of the US from the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council;

17. In economic and financial developments, the decline in the Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) which plunged to 7,098.15 points on 21 June 2018, the lowest closing level since 04 January 2017, due in part to market uncertainties; the continued weakening of the Philippine peso against the American dollar which makes the local currency one of the worst performing currencies among so-called emerging economies in the first half of 2018; the statement of a National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) official that a Filipino family of five (5) would be able to survive on P 10,000 per month which led various labor groups and individuals to challenge the country’s economic managers to live on P 10,000 monthly; a clarification was issued by NEDA Director General Ernesto Pernia to the effect that a typical Filipino family would need P 42,000 monthly to be able to live decently.

Based on a multistage probability sample of 1,800 registered voters 18 years old and above, Pulse Asia’s nationwide survey has a + 2% 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% for Metro Manila, + 3% for the rest of Luzon and + 5% for each of Visayas and Mindanao. Those interested in further technical details may refer to our website (www.pulseasia.ph)

Pulse Asia Research’s pool of academic fellows takes full responsibility for the design and conduct of the survey, as well as for analyses it makes based on the survey data. In keeping with our academic nature, no religious, political, economic, or partisan group influenced any of these processes. Pulse Asia Research undertakes Ulat ng Bayan surveys on its own without any party singularly commissioning the research effort.

For any clarification or questions, kindly contact Dr. Ana Maria Tabunda, Research Director of Pulse Asia Research at 09189436816 or Ronald D. Holmes, Pulse Asia Research President at 09189335497 (via mobile, Viber, or Telegram) or at ronald.holmes@gmail.com (via email.).

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Most Filipinos (83%) are aware of the previous State of the Nation Addresses (SONAs) of the President

Awareness of any of the past State of the Nation Addresses (SONAs) of President Rodrigo R. Duterte is reported by a huge majority of Filipinos (83%). Majority awareness levels are posted across geographic areas (i.e., from 80% in the rest of Luzon to 87% in the Visayas) and socio-economic groupings (i.e., from 74% in Class E to 88% in Class ABC). On the other hand, 17% of Filipinos have not heard, read, or watched anything about the previous SONAs delivered by the President before Congress. (Please refer to Table 1.)

A sizeable majority of Filipinos (69%) consider the efforts of the Duterte administration to eradicate illegal drugs in the country as its most important achievement1

For 69% of Filipinos, the most important accomplishment of President Duterte and his administration since they assumed office in June 2016 would be their anti-illegal drugs initiatives. This is the majority opinion in all geographic areas (i.e., from 64% in the rest of Luzon to 77% in Metro Manila) and socio-economic classes (i.e., from 69% in Class D to 74% in Class ABC). Meanwhile, half of Filipinos (50%) consider the anti-crime efforts of the Duterte administration as its most significant achievement. Most Metro Manilans (61%), Visayans (58%), and those in Classes ABC and E (53% and 54%, respectively) share this assessment. (Please refer to Table 2.) 

A third set of accomplishments of the incumbent administration that are considered most important by Filipinos includes the salary increase for police and military personnel (30%) and its fight against graft and corruption in government (28%). On the other hand, 21% of Filipinos say the granting of free tuition to students enrolled in public universities and colleges is the most significant achievement of the administration. The efforts of President Duterte and his administration to create  more jobs (15%), restore public trust in government and its officials (11%), improve the state of the national economy (11%), and extend the validity of drivers’ licenses (10%) comprise a fifth group of key accomplishments of the present dispensation. The least often mentioned achievements of the Duterte administration are poverty reduction (8%), inflation control (8%), extension of the validity of passports (7%), no-deposit policy in hospitals (6%), lowering of personal income tax (5%), and provision of free internet in public areas (3%).

Jobs (56%) and inflation (52%) top the list of issues which Filipinos would like the President to emphasize in his July 2018 SONA2

The majority of Filipinos say President Duterte should give emphasis to the creation of more jobs (56%) and efforts to control the rising prices of basic commodities (52%) in his upcoming SONA. This is the prevailing sentiment in Metro Manila (56% and 51%, respectively), the rest of Luzon (55% and 51%, respectively), the Visayas (65% and 51%, respectively), and Class D (58% and 52%, respectively). Most Mindanawons and those in Class ABC are also in favor of President Duterte highlighting his administration’s efforts to control inflation (56% and 68%, respectively) while a little over half of those in Class E (52%) would like him to prioritize the issue of creating more jobs for Filipinos. The only other issue cited by a majority in any of the geographic areas and socio-economic groupings is the need to increase the pay of workers – an issue which 54% of those in Balance Luzon would like the President to focus on in his July 2018 SONA. At the national level, this issue is cited by 48% of Filipinos. (Please refer to Table 3.)

One (1) out of every three (3) Filipinos prefers that President Duterte focus on further reducing poverty in the country (33%) while about a quarter of Filipinos say he should give emphasis to the issues of contractualization (27%) and illegal drugs (26%). Fewer Filipinos are of the view that the President should prioritize the issues of graft and corruption (16%), the country’s territorial sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea (16%), federalism (5%), and charter change (3%). It may be noted that across geographic areas and socio-economic classes, less than one (1) in 10 Filipinos would like President Duterte to place emphasis on the issue of charter change (2% to 4% and 1% to 4%, respectively) while preference for the President focusing on federalism in his SONA does not go beyond 10% (i.e., as recorded in Mindanao).


1 For this probe, the survey respondents were allowed to choose up to three (3) answers from a list of 15 issues. Volunteered answers (i.e., those not included in the list) were also noted by field interviewers. These make up less than 1% of the total responses for this survey.

2 For this probe, the survey respondents were allowed to choose up to three (3) answers from a list of 10 issues. Volunteered answers (i.e., those not included in the list) were also noted by field interviewers. These make up less than 1% of the total responses for this survey.