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Pulse Asia Research, Inc. is pleased to share with you some findings on Urgent National Concerns and the Performance Ratings of the National Administration on Selected Issues from the September 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 September 1 – 7, 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:

In the weeks leading up to and during the conduct of the field interviews for this nationwide survey, the following national and international developments dominated the headlines:

1. President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s issuance of Proclamation No. 572 on 04 September 2018 which declares as invalid from the beginning the amnesty granted to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV under the previous administration because of his alleged failure to apply for amnesty and to admit his guilt in connection with the July 2003 Oakwood mutiny, February 2006 stand-off with the Philippine Marines, and the November 2007 Manila Peninsula incident;

2. The calls for the abolition of the National Food Authority (NFA) and the resignation of Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol and NFA Administrator Jason Aquino amidst the shortage of rice in several areas in the country and the soaring prices of the commodity nationwide;

3. The filing of a graft complaint against NFA Administrator Aquino by the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikutura (Sinag) arising from the diversion of P 5.1B of the agency’s funds meant for the purchase of palay last year to pay off the NFA’s debts; Davao City Representative Karlo Nograles claims the NFA did the same thing this year which brings to a total of more than P 10B the amount of funds originally allocated for buying palay but which were instead used to service the agency’s debts in the past two (2) years;

4. The blasts that rocked Isulan, Sultan Kudarat on 28 August and 02 September 2018 which killed at least five (5) individuals and injured several others; these developments led Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to raise the possibility of extending martial law in Mindanao beyond the 31 December 2018 deadline; the military put the blame for the attacks on factions of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) that have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS);

5. The President’s official visits to Israel and Jordan from 02 to 08 September 2018, the first by an incumbent chief executive, during which he discussed such matters as combatting terrorism and transnational crimes, intensifying trade and investment, and protecting the rights of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) with his Israeli and Jordanian counterparts;

6. Another controversial remark by President Duterte which saw him dismissing the reported rise in rape cases in Davao City by attributing it to the presence of many beautiful women in the area; amidst the backlash against the President, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque once again called on the public not to take President Duterte’s words seriously;

7. The approval on second reading by the House of Representatives on 04 September 2018 of the second package of the Duterte administration’s tax reform program called the Tax Reform for Attracting Better and High Quality Opportunities (TRABAHO) despite objections from various business sectors and some congressional representatives belonging to the minority; TRABAHO seeks to reduce corporate income tax from 30% to 20% by 2029 while at the same time removing various incentives presently enjoyed by investors and the business sector;

8. The debate concerning the projected cost that would be incurred by the Philippine government as a result of the proposed shift to federalism with the Consultative Committee (Con-Com) putting it at P 13.29B, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) saying it would be between P 44B to P72 B, and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) estimating it to be between P 131B to P 253B; Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and NEDA Director General Ernesto Pernia have publicly questioned the economic and budgetary aspects of the federal constitution drafted by the Con-Com;

9. The finding by the House Committee on Justice that the impeachment complaint against Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Teresita de Castro and six (6) other SC justices is sufficient in form; the complainants argue that the SC justices violated by 1987 Philippine Constitution when they removed former SC Chief Justice Maria Lourdes A. Sereno from office via the quo warranto petition filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG); SC Chief Justice de Castro took her oath of office on 28 August 2018 after being appointed by the President to replace former SC Chief Justice Sereno;

10. The claims made by President Duterte that Naga City, the hometown of Vice-President Maria Leonor G. Robredo, is a hotbed of shabu and that it was the Vice-President’s own brother-in-law who brought drugs to Naga City; Vice-President Robredo and the local government of Naga City have denied these allegations, with the Naga City Council even passing a resolution expressing its indignation over the President’s remarks referring to these as “irresponsible” and “without factual basis”; in a related development, President Duterte against questioned the Vice-President’s capability to lead the country, saying that should he resign, the Philippines would be better off with a leader like former Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. or Senator Francis Escudero rather than Vice-President Robredo, his constitutional successor;

11. The forced closure of the main runway of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) from 16 to 18 August 2018 as a result of a Xiamen Airlines plane overshooting the runway; this led to the cancellation or diversion of flights, with thousands of passengers being stranded at the airport; a fine of at least P 33M was levied against Xiamen Airlines while several local and international airlines were also meted a fine of P 5,000 per passengers for 37 uncoordinated flights which they undertook to hasten the transport of stranded passengers immediately after the removal of the Xiamen Airlines plane from the runway;

12. The alliance formed by Hugpong ng Pagbabago, a regional party formed and led by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, with three (3) national parties (i.e., Nacionalista Party, Nationalist People’s Coalition, and National Unity Party) and six (6) regional parties; the party-members have pledged their support for the senatorial candidates that would be fielded by the supercoalition in next year’s midterm elections;

13. The filing before the International Criminal Court (ICC) of a second complaint against President Duterte accusing him of murder and crimes against humanity in connection with his campaign against anti-illegal drugs, a move dismissed by Malacañang as simply a communication because it has not been acted upon by the ICC;

14. The assertion made by Mr. Ben Tulfo before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on 14 August 2018 that his company, Bitag Media Unlimited Inc. (BMUI), did nothing illegal when it entered, through PTV-4, into a multimillion advertisement contract with the Department of Tourism (DOT) when the latter was still headed by his sister, then DOT Secretary Wanda Teo; DOT Sec. Teo said there was no conflict of interest in the contract because it involved the DOT and PTV-4 and not BMUI;

15. The resolution promulgated by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) on 05 September 2018 which sets the threshold for the oval shading at 25% for the May 2019 elections in order to prevent the disenfranchisements of voters;

16. The holding of the Asian Games in Indonesia from 18 August to 02 September 2019 where the Philippines finished in 19th place out of 45 countries with a total haul of 4 gold, 2 silver, and 15 bronze medals; and

17. In economic and financial news, the announcement made by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) that inflation hit 6.4% in August 2018 – the highest in nine (9) years and higher than the 5.9% forecasted by the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP); the depreciation of the local currency vis-à-vis the American dollar and the decline of the Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) as a result of investors’ concerns regarding inflation and trade involving the US, China, and Canada; and the drop in the business confidence index from 39.30% in the 2nd quarter of 2018 to 30.1% in the 3rd quarter which is attributed by the BSP to the increasing prices of basic commodities both globally and locally.

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, ± 3.5% for the rest of Luzon, ± 5.2% for Visayas and ± 4.7% for 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 via Viber or Telegram at +639189335497 or at ronald.holmes@gmail.com (via email.).

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Filipinos continue to be most concerned about economic matters; public sentiment as regards urgent national concerns is essentially unchanged between June and September 2018

Amidst the soaring prices of basic goods, a sizeable majority of Filipinos (63%) say inflation is an issue that the Duterte administration must immediately address. This is the predominant opinion in all geographic areas and socio-economic classes (53% to 66% and 52% to 65%, respectively). Meanwhile, half of Filipinos (50%) consider the need to increase the pay of workers as an urgent national concern – a sentiment expressed by majorities in Metro Manila (55%), the Visayas (59%), and Class ABC (52%). (Please refer to Table 1.)

A third set of urgent national concerns includes poverty reduction (32%) and job creation (30%). Fighting graft and corruption in government (26%) and combatting criminality (23%) comprise a fourth set of issues deemed urgent by Filipinos while a fifth group of urgent national concerns includes promoting peace (14%), protecting the environment (13%), reducing the amount of taxes paid by citizens (12%), and enforcing the rule of law (11%). In September 2018, Filipinos are least concerned about the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (6%), rapid population growth (6%), terrorism (5%), national territorial integrity (5%), and charter change (3%). None of these issues are considered urgent by a majority across geographic areas and socio-economic groupings.

Inflation is the leading first and second mentioned urgent national concern of Filipinos in September 2018 (31% and 23%, respectively). On the other hand, the top third mentioned urgent national concerns are increasing the pay of workers (13%), reducing poverty (12%), creating more jobs (12%), fighting corruption (12%), and controlling inflation (9%). (Please refer to Table 2.)

Filipinos’ sense of urgency as far as the 15 national issues included in this survey probe are concerned is practically constant during the period June to September 2018. The only notable changes are the increase in the level of concern regarding inflation (+12 percentage points) and the decline in the level of concern about job creation (-9 percentage points). Year-on-year, public concern becomes more pronounced when it comes to such issues as workers’ pay (+8 percentage points) and inflation (+13 percentage points) while it eases in relation to the issues of peace (-7 percentage points) and criminality (-13 percentage points). (Please refer to Table 3.)

Although the Duterte administration enjoys majority approval ratings on 10 out of the 12 issues on which its performance is evaluated in this survey, its approval ratings decline across all 12 issues during the period June to September 2018

Filipinos grant the national administration majority approval scores for its efforts to fight criminality (83%), protect the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (75%), respond to the needs of areas affected by calamities (74%), fight corruption (71%), enforce the rule of law (69%), promote peace (69%), protect the environment (65%), defend national territorial integrity (56%), create more jobs (56%), and increase the pay of workers (53%). Appreciation is the plurality sentiment toward the Duterte administration’s anti-poverty initiatives (39%). As far as the national issue deemed most urgent by Filipinos is concerned (i.e., inflation), disapproval is the predominant opinion with 51% of Filipinos having a negative assessment of the present administration’s handling of this issue. Levels of indecision about the national administration’s performance range from 14% on the issue of criminality to 34% on the issue of poverty. Additionally, Filipinos are least appreciative of the Duterte administration’s handling of the problem of soaring prices of basic commodities (27%) and are least critical of its work in the areas of fighting criminality, protecting the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), and responding to the needs of calamity-hit areas (all at 3%). (Please refer to Table 4.)

Public appreciation for the performance of the Duterte administration eases across all 12 issues on which it is performance-rated in the present survey. The most marked decline is recorded on the issue of poverty reduction (-16 percentage points) while the least pronounced one occurs on the issue of criminality and peace (both at -5 percentage points). With regard to the top urgent national concerns of Filipinos (i.e., inflation and workers’ pay), the incumbent administration’s approval scores decrease by 14 percentage points. (Please refer to Table 5.)

Disapproval for the work done by the national administration becomes more pronounced on the issues of creating more jobs (+5 percentage points), fighting corruption in government (+6 percentage points), increasing the pay of workers (+10 percentage points), reducing poverty (+16 percentage points), and controlling inflation (+22 percentage points). With regard to indecision, it becomes more manifest when it comes to the Duterte administration’s efforts to protect the environment (+5 percentage points), create more jobs (+5 percentage points), protect OFWs (+6 percentage points), defend national territorial integrity (+6 percentage points), enforce the rule of law (+8 percentage points), and respond to the needs of areas affected by calamities (+10 percentage points). The only decline in the level of indecision toward the administration’s performance is recorded on the issue of inflation (-7 percentage points).