[divider /]

Pulse Asia Research, Inc. is pleased to share with you some findings on National Urgent Concerns and the Performance Ratings of the Duterte Administration from the March 2017 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 March 15 – 20, 2017 using face-to-face interviews.

The following developments preoccupied Filipinos in the weeks leading up to the survey period as well as during the actual conduct of field interviews:

(1)    The filing of an impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo R. Duterte on 16 March 2017 by Magdalo Party List Representative Gary Alejano  based on charges of betrayal of public trust, culpable violation of the Philippine Constitution, bribery, corruption, and the commission of other high crimes; thereafter, an impeachment complaint against Vice-President Maria Leonor G. Robredo was filed on 20 March 2017 by Atty. Oliver Lozano on the grounds that she also violated the Constitution and betrayed public trust;

(2)    The claims made by retired SPO3 Arturo Lascañas before the Senate regarding the killings he took part in as a member of the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS) and which were supposedly ordered by then Davao City Mayor Duterte;

(3)    The Senate investigation into the abduction and murder of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-Joo inside Camp Crame in October 2016, the surrender of alleged mastermind SPO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel following the issuance of an arrest warrant against him in January 2017, and his issuance of an affidavit implicating Superintendent Rafael Dumlao of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Anti-Illegal Drugs Group and Senior Superintendent Allan Macapagal of the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group in the crime;

(4)    The suspension of “Oplan Tokhang” on 30 January 2017 in the aftermath of the Jee Ick-Joo case and its relaunching on 06 March 2017 under the name “Oplan Double Barrel, Reloaded”;

(5)    The issuance by Amnesty International (AI), the Human Rights Watch (HRW), and the United States (US) of separate reports highly critical of the administration’s “war on illegal drugs”; the reports claim, among others, that President Duterte and the police should be held criminally liable for the killings resulting from the anti-illegal drugs campaign and that there is an increasing level of public concern over the culture of impunity within the country’s police institution;

(6)    The video message of Vice-President Maria Leonor G. Robredo shown during the annual meeting of the United Nations (UN) Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna held on 16 March 2017 wherein she highlighted the issue of extrajudicial killings arising from President Duterte’s campaign against anti-illegal and denounced the so-called “palit-ulo” scheme by the police;

(7)    Another Senate investigation, this time into the supposed P 50 million bribery attempt involving officials of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and a Hong Kong-based gambling tycoon who was able to evade arrest on charges of bribery and economic sabotage; the President’s issuance of an executive order (EO) mandating the PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to embark on an anti-illegal gambling campaign targeting gambling syndicates and unlicensed gambling operators;

(8)    The resumption of the peace talks between the Philippine government and communist rebels as well as the reinstatement of their unilateral ceasefire declarations following meetings in The Netherlands held on 10-11 March 2017;

(9)    The threat made by the President that he will declare martial law in Mindanao if violence continues in the area as he pleaded with local government officials for them to exercise their supervisory functions over the police to ensure peace and order in their respective areas;

(10)    The approval, on third reading, by the House of Representatives of the proposal to reimpose the death penalty for heinous drug-related crimes via a vote of 217-54, with a single abstention; in the aftermath of the vote, several House members belonging to the super majority coalition who rejected the bill were stripped of their posts in the Lower House;

(11)    The arrest of Senator Leila M. de Lima, on 24 February 2017, on charges that she operated a drug-trafficking ring while serving as the Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary under the Aquino administration; following her arrest, several senators who, like Senator de Lima,  are either members of or allied with the Liberal Party (LP) were removed from their Senate posts by their colleagues supportive of President Duterte; oral arguments were heard by the Supreme Court (SC) beginning 15 March 2017 on Senator de Lima’s petition to stop her indictment on charges of drug trafficking;

(12)    The ruling of the SC, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), that the electoral protest filed by former Senator Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. contesting the results of the May 2016 vice-presidential race is sufficient in form and substance and, as such, it will proceed to conduct hearings on the matter; the camp of Vice-President Maria Leonor G. Robredo filed a motion for reconsideration on 27 February 2017;

(13)    The release of a series of online articles called #NagaLeaks purportedly containing information against Vice-President Robredo, her deceased husband, and the LP of which she is a member;

(14)    The manifestation submitted by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to the 13th Division of the Court of Appeals (CA) questioning the decision of the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) declaring Ms. Janet Lim-Napoles guilty of illegally detaining Mr. Benhur Luy, the whistleblower in the pork barrel scam case against the former;

(15)    The decision of the Office of the Ombudsman to clear former President Benigno S. Aquino III and to charge former Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Florencio Abad with usurpation of legislative power in connection with the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) case;

(16)    The magnitude 6.7 earthquake which struck the province of Surigao del Norte on 10 February 2017, claiming the lives of eight (8) individuals and resulting in hundreds of injuries as well as in the destruction of properties and infrastructure estimated to reach P 665 million;

(17)    The confirmation of the  appointments of Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones and DOJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre III; the rejection of the appointment of Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Jr. over questions concerning his citizenship; the bypassing of Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Rafael Mariano, Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez; the removal of National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Chief Peter Laviña amidst charges of corruption; and the appointment of Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Samuel Martires as President Duterte’s first appointee to the SC;

(18)    The orders issued by DENR Secretary Lopez to suspend five (5) mining firms, close 23 mining operations, and cancel 75 mining contracts as part of the DENR’s campaign against “indiscriminate mining”; the campaign against the confirmation of DENR Secretary Lopez’s appointment by mining companies and other sectors adversely affected by her policy decisions;

(19)    The forcible takeover by around 5,000 informal settlers from Metro Manila and Bulacan of government houses located in Pandi and San Jose del Monte City, both in Bulacan, allocated for members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the PNP and urban poor beneficiaries who have applied for housing with the National Housing Authority (NHA);

(20)    The commemoration of the 31st anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution on 25 February 2017 , with the government holding “simple rites” in Camp Aguinaldo while opposition groups trooped to the People Power Monument along EDSA to protest the burial of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB) and the continued extrajudicial killings in the country;

(21)    The controversy surrounding the presence of Chinese vessels in the vicinity of Benham Rise which, according to Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, appeared to be conducting surveying missions in the area; however, President Duterte himself said he allowed Chinese surveillance ships to go to the area, a decision which the DND and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) apparently had no knowledge of; both the Senate and the House of Representatives are looking to investigate the alleged agreement between President Duterte and the Chinese government allowing its military vessels to enter the area, an act by the President referred to by his critics as tantamount to treason;

(22)    Calls for President Duterte to file “a strong protest” against plans by China to build structures on Panatag Shoal which is part of the Philippine national territory; this came after the President said the Philippines is in no position to prevent China from building a radar station in the area;

(23)    The observance of Ash Wednesday on 01 March 2017, with Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle calling on the Catholic faithful to have a “change of heart”; on 19 February 2017, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) launched its “Walk for Life” initiative which encourages Filipinos to reject drug-related killings and the return of the death penalty through “active non-violence”; and

(24)    In economic and financial matters, the increase in headline inflation to 3.3% in February 2017 from 2.7% the previous month – the fastest rise in prices in 27 months as stated by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA); the continued depreciation of the local currency vis-à-vis the US dollar; the increase in the minimum fare for jeepneys and the base rate for taxis as well as in the power rates in Metro Manila; and the release of the additional pension for pensioners of the Social Security System (SSS) amounting to P 1,000 monthly.

As in our previous Ulat ng Bayan surveys, this nationwide survey is based on a sample of 1,200 representative adults 18 years old and above. It has a ± 3% 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 ± 6% 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 Dr. Ana Maria Tabunda, Research Director of Pulse Asia Research at 09189436816 or Ronald D. Holmes, Pulse Asia Research President at 09189335497 or via email (ronald.holmes@gmail.com).

[divider /]

Economic issues top the list of Filipinos’ urgent national concerns; public opinion on the matter remain essentially unchanged during the period December 2016 to March 2017

In March 2017, Filipinos are most concerned about issues having to do with the economy – increasing the pay of workers (43%), controlling inflation (41%), and creating more jobs (39%). A second cluster of issues Filipinos are concerned about includes fighting corruption in government (31%), fighting criminality (28%), and reducing poverty (27%). Meanwhile, promoting peace (18%), enforcing the rule of law (16%), and protecting the environment (15%) comprise a third group of urgent national concerns. Another set of concerns deemed urgent by Filipinos include controlling rapid population growth (11%), reducing the amount of taxes paid by citizens (11%), protecting the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (8%), and defending national territorial integrity (6%). Filipinos are least concerned about terrorism (3%) and charter change (3%). (Please refer to Table 1.)

 The leading first mentioned urgent national concerns of Filipinos at this time are workers’ pay (19%), inflation (16%), and jobs (13%). As for second mentioned concerns, the most often cited ones are workers’ pay (14%), inflation (13%), jobs (13%), and corruption (9%). In terms of third mentioned concerns, the top responses are jobs (13%), corruption (13%), inflation (11%), workers’ pay (10%), criminality (9%), and poverty (8%).

Across geographic areas and socio-economic classes, the only issue cited by a majority is increasing the pay of workers, an issue mentioned by 52% of Visayans. In Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon, the residents are most concerned about workers’ pay (46% and 41%, respectively), jobs (40% and 35%, respectively, inflation (36% and 39%, respectively), corruption (35% and 32%, respectively), and criminality (35% and 29%, respectively). Among Mindanaoans, the top urgent national concerns are inflation (48%), jobs (39%), and workers’ pay (38%). Meanwhile, in Class ABC, the leading concerns are criminality (38%), inflation (35%), jobs (35%), poverty (33%), workers’ pay (30%), corruption (30%), and peace (20%). In Classes D and E, the most often cited concerns are workers’ pay (44% and 46%, respectively), inflation (40% and 44%, respectively), and jobs (39% and 41%, respectively). (Please refer to Table 2.)

For the most part, Filipinos’ sense of urgency as far as these national issues are concerned remains steady between December 2016 and March 2017. The only exceptions are the higher levels of concerns expressed by Filipinos about inflation and job creation in March 2017 (41% and 39%, respectively) compared to the previous quarter (34% and 31%, respectively). The decline in the levels of concern about poverty (-6 percentage points), criminality (-5 percentage points), and peace (-5 percentage points) are considered marginal as these fall within the overall survey error margin (+/- 3 percentage points). (Please refer to Table 3.)

The Duterte administration records majority approval ratings on most issues on which it is performance-rated in March 2017; there are hardly any movements in the administration’s performance ratings between December 2016 and March 2017 except for the 8-percentage point decline in the level of approval for its efforts to defend national territorial integrity

Filipinos are most appreciative of the Duterte administration’s efforts to fight criminality (79%) and respond to the needs of areas affected by calamities (77%). The latter also scores majority approval ratings for its work in the areas of protecting the welfare of OFWs (71%), fighting corruption (70%), promoting peace (69%), protecting the environment (68%), enforcing the rule of law (68%), creating jobs (58%), defending the national territory from foreigners (57%), and increasing workers’ pay (55%). It is only in the areas of reducing poverty and controlling inflation where the current dispensation fails to obtain majority approval figures as it scores approval ratings of 50% and 45%, respectively. It may be noted that inflation is one of the leading urgent national concerns of Filipinos in March 2017 (41%). (Please refer to Table 4.)

Conversely, Filipinos are most critical of the administration’s initiatives to control inflation (22%) and least inclined to disapprove of its disaster response efforts (3%). Levels of indecision toward the Duterte administration’s handling of all 12 issues on which its performance is assessed in this quarter range from 16% on fighting criminality to 36% on reducing poverty.

Filipinos’ assessment of the work done by the Duterte administration is essentially unchanged between December 2016 and March 2017. There is only one significant change this period and that is the 8-percentage point drop in the level of approval for the administration’s efforts to defend the national territory against foreigners. Nonetheless, the decline in the levels of appreciation for the present leadership’s work in the areas of fighting criminality and corruption (-5 and -6 percentage points, respectively) and the level of indecision for its performance in the area of protecting the national territory from foreigners (+6 percentage points) are worth noting as these border closely to the overall survey error margin (+/- 3 percentage points). (Please refer to Table 5.)