Pulse Asia Research, Inc. is pleased to share with you some findings on the State of the Nation Address from the June 2021 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 7 – 16, 2021 using face-to-face interviews.

Among the key developments during the weeks immediately prior to the survey period and during the conduct of the field interviews are the following:

1. The latest community quarantine (CQ) classifications were announced by President Rodrigo R. Duterte on 14 June 2021. The National Capital Region (NCR) Plus bubble, which includes Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, and Cavite, will be placed under general community quarantine (GCQ) with “heightened restrictions” from 16 to 30 June 2021. On the other hand, nine (9) cities and 12 provinces were placed under the strictest classification, modified enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), including Cagayan de Oro City, Iloilo City, Puerto Princesa City, Cagayan de Oro City, and all provinces in the Zamboanga Peninsula. This is due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in areas outside NCR, particularly in Mindanao. According to the Department of Health (DOH), in the first week of June 2021, Mindanao accounted for around 25% of new COVID-19 cases. Also, new cases of the COVID-19 variants first detected in India, South Africa, and the United Kingdom (UK) were reported by the DOH during this period.

The worsening situation outside the NCR has led to calls for more COVID-19 vaccines to be supplied to areas beyond the NCR Plus bubble with a high number of cases. Although supplies of AstraZeneca, Sinovac, Pfizer, and Sputnik V vaccines arrived in the country in May 2021 and early part of June 2021, there is still not enough to go around, leading to the temporary closure of several vaccination sites in Metro Manila. This prompted vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. to issue an apology to affected local government units (LGUs), with a promise to deliver new vaccine doses beginning 14 June 2021.

In connection with the government’s vaccination program, the immunization of essential workers (i.e., those belonging to the A4 category) started on 07 June 2021. This category covers frontline personnel, including uniformed personnel. As the vaccine rollout continues, the Senate has scheduled an inquiry seeking an accounting of the P 82.5 billion granted by Congress in 2020 to be used for the purchase of vaccines. Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senator Panfilo Lacson urged the Duterte administration to fully disclose the details of the supply contracts entered into by the Philippines with various COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers.

2. On 01 June 2021, the House of Representatives passed House Bill (HB) 9411 or the Bayanihan to Arise as One Bill. Among others, this legislative measure seeks to set aside a total of P 216 B to be distributed to all citizens regardless of age and economic status in the form of cash aid. However, the Senate is more inclined to extend the Bayanihan 2 Act, or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, until 31 December 2021 rather than to pass the Bayanihan 3 bill. According to Senate President Vicente Sotto III, since there are still unused funds under the Bayanihan 2 Act, he and his colleagues think it would be better to tap into these funds before considering the passage of Bayanihan 3 bill. Malacañang has also said that the President will not certify the Bayanihan 3 bill as urgent.

3. On 12 June 2021, 1Sambayan, a coalition of forces in the country’s political opposition, announced its nominees for president and vice-president in the May 2022 elections. They are Vice-President Maria Leonor G. Robredo, Senator Grace Poe, Batangas Representative Vilma Santos-Recto, Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) Party List Representative Eddie Villanueva, former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, and Atty. Jose Manuel Diokno. The Vice-President’s supporters also launched Team Leni Robredo on Independence Day, with the objective of convincing her to run for president in the coming elections. Vice-President Robredo, who had said earlier she is not closing her doors on a presidential bid in May 2022, called on the political opposition to field a single candidate for president in the next elections if it wants to defeat whoever will be endorsed by President Duterte.

In the meantime, amidst the rift involving the leadership of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), the party adopted a resolution during its national council meeting on 31 May 2021 urging President Duterte to run for vice-president in May 2022 in order to ensure the continuity of his administration’s programs. Furthermore, the said resolution allows the latter to choose the party’s standard-bearer. Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao, who serves as party’s president, boycotted the meeting as it was not sanctioned under the PDP-Laban’s rules. In the meantime, some legal experts said a vice-presidential run by the President would be unconstitutional as it would allow him to assume the presidency again through succession. [1]

4. During her 13 June 2021 radio program, Vice-President Robredo remarked that amidst the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Davao City, its government officials might consider looking at the COVID-19 response strategy employed by Cebu City. In reaction, Davao City Mayor Duterte said the Vice-President should not meddle in her city’s affairs and the proper time to attack her handling of the pandemic in Davao City would be if Vice-President Robredo “dares to run for president”. Davao City is among the local government units classified under MECQ from 15 to 30 June 2021.

5. The Philippines filed a diplomatic protest against China on 17 May 2021 in the aftermath of a unilateral fishing ban that China imposed from 01 May to 16 August 2021 in the South China Sea (SCS). The ban covers certain areas over which the Philippines exercises sovereignty. Another protest was filed on 28 May 2021, this time arising from what the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) claims as the “incessant deployment, prolonged presence, and illegal activities” of Chinese vessels within the vicinity of Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea (WPS). The DFA has called for the immediate withdrawal of Chinese maritime assets from the area. Between the filing of these diplomatic protests, the Philippines and China convened their 6th Bilateral Consultation Mechanism (BCM), held virtually on 21 May 2021, during which they agreed on the importance of dialogues in addressing the conflict in the SCS, not only between the two (2) countries but also through complementary bilateral and multilateral platforms such as the East Asia Summit and the Association of Southeast Asian Region (ASEAN) Regional Forum.

6. On 14 June 2021, a request was made by the International Criminal Court (ICC) Office of the Prosecutor for authorization to proceed with the investigation of President Duterte for the extrajudicial killings (EJKs) committed from 01 July 2016 to 16 March 2019 that occurred in the course of the conduct of his administration’s “war on drugs”. Malacañang said the President will not cooperate with this investigation since the ICC no longer has jurisdiction over the Philippines following its withdrawal from the international body on 17 March 2019.

In a related matter, the Philippine National Police (PNP) submitted to the Department of Justice (DOJ) the records of 53 police operations that resulted in the death of drug suspects. The DOJ is investigating allegations of EJKs in the conduct of President Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs. However, the President said due to national security concerns, not all records involving controversial killings during police operations against illegal drugs will be given to the DOJ. Human rights groups claimed this move of President Duterte only reinforced their suspicions that the ongoing investigation into EJKs is only for show and is being conducted to appease those critical of his “war on drugs”, both in the Philippines and abroad.

7. The House Justice Committee junked the impeachment complaint filed against Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen via a unanimous vote held on 27 May 2021. The impeachment complaint, submitted to the House of Representatives on 07 December 2020, accused the latter of culpable violation of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, delaying the resolution of cases assigned to him, and betrayal of public trust. The committee members found the complaint insufficient in form and decided to dismiss it outright.

8. Following the President’s certification of Senate Bill (SB) 2232 as an urgent measure, the Senate passed the said bill on 02 June 2021. The proposed piece of legislation seeks to tax Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGOs) in order to generate additional revenues and to place the industry under stricter monitoring by the government. Also certified as urgent by President Duterte is SB 2234, a measure that aims to establish the Department of Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos in order to protect the rights of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and promote their welfare.

9. The Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities (PACU), the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations of the Philippines (COCOPEA), and about 30 private schools filed a petition before the Court of Tax Appeals to prevent the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) from implementing a new regulation increasing the income tax on private educational institutions from 10% to 25%. The Department of Finance (DOF) said it will support an amend to the provision of the National Internal Revenue Code concerning the tax to be imposed on private schools, provided that no refunds will be made should such an amendment be approved. Meanwhile, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said a partial return to face-to-face classes may be possible by August 2021 as long as the pace of the government’s vaccination program improves and the number of cases continues to decline.

10. With Tropical Storm Dante still inside the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR), the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) declared the start of the rainy season in the country on 04 June 2021. The storm, which entered the PAR for the first time on 30 May 2021, affected more than 29,000 families living in 462 barangays as well as caused the loss of 11 lives, agricultural damages amounting to P 91.6 M, and infrastructural destruction costing P 131.1 M.

11. In economic and financial developments, the latest job figures released by the Philippine Statistics Authority on 08 June 2021 show the country’s unemployment rate rising from 7.1% in March 2021 to 8.7% in April 2021 amidst the lockdowns imposed by the Duterte administration to help control the spread of COVID-19. The PSA said this translates to 4.14 million jobless Filipinos. In addition, the underemployment rate also went up from 16.2% to 17.2% during the same period.

Due in part to the 4.2% year-on-year decline in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), the continued lockdowns in NCR, and job losses, the World Bank (WB) once again adjusted its annual growth outlook for the Philippines to 4.7% from its 5.5% projection in March 2021. This figure falls below the government’s own target range of 6% to 7%.

For the third straight month, the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) increased its overall rate to P 8.6718 per kWh in June 2021 from P 8.592 per kWh in May 2021, attributed mainly to higher prices at the spot market. Due to a rise in demand for electricity in Luzon amidst higher temperatures during the summer period and increased economic activities in light of the lifting of some COVID-19 restrictions, Meralco reported tight supply conditions in the Luzon grid. This led to rotational brownouts within Luzon during the first week of June 2021. In a hearing conducted by the Senate Energy Committee on 09 June 2021, Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi proposed that the operations of the country’s power grids be placed back under government control in light of what he called the non-compliance with DOE policies of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).

This nationwide survey is based on a sample of 2,400 representative adults 18 years old and above. It has a ± 2% error margin at the 95% confidence level. Subnational estimates for each of the geographic areas covered in the survey (i.e., Metro Manila, the rest of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao) have a ± 4% error margin, also at 95% confidence level. 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 Ana Maria Tabunda, Research Director of Pulse Asia Research at 09189436816 or Ronald D. Holmes, Pulse Asia Research President via Viber or Telegram at +639189335497 or at ronald.holmes@gmail.com (via email).

Most Filipino adults (69%) are aware of any of the past State of the Nation Addresses (SONAs) of President Rodrigo R. Duterte

A big majority of Filipino adults (69%) have heard, read, or watched something about any of the past SONAs delivered by President Rodrigo R. Duterte before Congress. Majority levels of awareness are posted in all geographic areas and socio-economic classes (55% to 87% and 64% to 71%, respectively). Awareness is more notable in Metro Manila and Mindanao than in the rest of Luzon and the Visayas (83% to 87% versus 55% to 62%). From June 2019 to June 2021, the overall level of awareness declines by 6 percentage points. Similar movements occur in the Visayas (-23 percentage points) and Class E (-18 percentage points).[2] (Please refer to Table 1.)

The issues that Filipino adults would most like the President to discuss in his July 2021 SONA are jobs or livelihood (38%) and the national economy (35%)

Topping the list of issues that Filipino adults would most like to hear President Duterte discuss in his upcoming SONA are jobs or livelihood (38%) and the Philippine economy (35%). Measures to control inflation (33%) and plans to expedite the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program (31%) comprise a second group of issues cited by Filipino adults. A third set of issues includes increasing workers’ pay (26%), improving the educational system (26%), measures to be taken to prevent further Chinese incursion into the country’s territory in the West Philippine Sea (25%), and fighting corruption in government (24%). Meanwhile, peace (20%), illegal drugs (17%), and public trust in the government and its officials (16%) make up a fourth group of issues. The least often mentioned issue is charter change (7%). (Please refer to Table 2.)

Metro Manilans would most like President Duterte to talk about inflation (48%) and jobs or livelihood (40%) in his next SONA. In the rest of Luzon, the most preferred issues are the economy (39%), jobs (37%), the educational system (34%), and inflation (33%). Among Visayans, the most cited issues are jobs (41%), COVID-19 vaccination (39%), and the economy (33%). And in Mindanao, basically the same percentages of adult residents would most like to hear the President discuss the following issues in his July 2021 address before Congress – jobs (36%), the economy (32%), COVID-19 vaccination (31%), inflation (28%), pay of workers (28%), and peace (28%).

The most often mentioned issues in Class ABC are jobs or livelihood (49%), the economy (43%), inflation (37%), and COVID-19 vaccination (37%). In Class D, the leading issues are jobs (37%), the economy (35%), and inflation (34%). And those in Class E would most like the President to talk about jobs (35%), the economy (33%), COVID-19 vaccination (31%), peace (29%), inflation (28%), workers’ pay (28%), and the educational system (28%).

Ulat ng Bayan June 2021 Technical Details

[1] At the time of the conduct of the survey, Malacañang said President Duterte had not yet made up his mind about his plans after his term ends. But on 01 July 2021, the President told reporters the people can now consider him a candidate for vice-president “to maintain the equilibrium”.

[2] Due to safety considerations and quarantine restrictions that were in place back in June 2020, Pulse Asia Research was unable to conduct its second quarter Ulat ng Bayan survey last year. As such, no comparative data are available for the period June 2020 to June 2021.