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Pulse Asia Research, Inc. is pleased to share with you some findings on the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo R. Duterte from the June 2019 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 24 to 30, 2019 using face-to-face interviews.

The following news developments preoccupied Filipinos immediately before and during the conduct of the interviews for this nationwide survey:

1. The reported ramming of a Filipino fishing vessel in the Recto Bank on 09 June 2019 by a Chinese fishing vessel that left the 22 fishermen aboard F/B GEM-VIR to fight to stay afloat for hours before they were rescued by a Vietnamese vessel; while the Filipino fishermen initially claimed that their vessel was intentionally rammed by the Chinese, they changed their account of the events after a closed-door meeting with Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol on 19 June 2019; the latter has offered to resign amidst public criticism of his handling of the meeting with the fishermen and the rice supply problem that had jacked up the price of rice nationwide;

2. The Philippine government’s filing of a diplomatic protest concerning the Recto Bank incident before the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on 12 June 2019; both the Philippines and China conducted separate investigations, with President Rodrigo R. Duterte accepting China’s proposal to conduct a joint investigation into the matter and China rejecting the President’s suggestion to involve a “neutral” third party in the investigation;

3. The statement made by President Duterte that he does not think China will allow its fishermen to be banned from fishing in Philippine waters and due to the friendly relations between these countries, Chinese fishermen should be allowed to fish in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ); lawmakers and maritime law experts criticized President Duterte’s remarks for being unconstitutional since allowing the Chinese to fish within the Philippines’ EEZ is tantamount to foreign intrusion into the country’s territory and implies that the Philippine government has renounced its victory at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in July 2016; former Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Albert del Rosario said the President’s failure to protect the country’s territory could be used as a basis for his impeachment, to which President Duterte replied that he will have his critics arrested and jailed if they attempt to impeach him but Senator Francis Pangilinan countered that impeaching a sitting president is not a crime;

4. The explosions in Barangay Kajatian, Indanan, Sulu on 28 June 2019 that resulted in eight (8) deaths, including three (3) soldiers and two (2) suspected bombers, and caused injuries to 12 others; the Islamic State (IS) claimed that the explosions were carried out by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), its local affiliate;

5. The plea made by the country’s public school teachers for President Duterte to live up to his campaign promise to increase their salaries; the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) is petitioning the Duterte administration for a P 10,000 hike in the basic pay of teachers but Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones cautioned that any increase in the pay of teachers should be accompanied by a pay hike for other disadvantaged government employees and would thus put more pressure on the government to generate more funds for workers’ salaries;

6. The investigation conducted by the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Automated Election System (JCOC-AES) concerning allegations of fraud and manipulation in the May 2019 elections; the JCOC-AES expressed satisfaction with the overall conduct of the elections but several recommendations were made to ensure the security of the transmission of data from the vote-counting machines (VCMs) to the consolidation and canvassing system as well as the transparency of the operation of the queue servers, among others; the Random Manuel Audit Committee (RMAC) also reported that its initial examination of 711 cluster precincts show an accuracy rate of 99.99% as far as the VCMs used in these precincts are concerned;

7. The call made by 11 United Nations (UN) human rights experts for the conduct of an independent investigation into what they perceive to be the worsening human rights situation in the Philippines, particularly the increasing number of “unlawful deaths and police killings” as a result of the administration’s “war on drugs”; Malacañang rejected the proposal on the grounds that it violates Philippine sovereignty and is based on “biased and absolutely false” information; for its part, the DFA said the proposal was made in bad faith and only seeks to undermine the country’s democratic processes;

8. The passage by Congress of the bill hiking the excise tax on tobacco products from P 45 to P 60 from 2020 to 2023; the revenues generated from this tax hike will be utilized to fund the government’s Universal Health Care (UHC) program; the bill is expected to raise up to P 126 B over the next five (5) years;

9. The continued leadership of Senator Vicente Sotto III in the Upper House following the signing by 14 of his colleagues of a resolution expressing support for him; meanwhile, in the House of Representatives, a term-sharing plan involving Taguig City-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco taking turns serving as House Speaker during the 18th Congress was announced but the latter was said to have rejected the proposal; amidst the ongoing race for House Speaker, the President revealed that he asked outgoing House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to help choose her successor;

10. The resignation of Philippine Health Insurance Cooperation (PhilHealth) President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Roy Ferrer and six (6) other PhilHealth officials following reports of fraud within the agency involving so-called “ghost” dialysis claims paid by PhilHealth to WellMed Dialysis and Laboratory Center (WellMed), whose owner has been detained and charged by the Department of Justice (DOJ) with estafa and falsification of documents; President Duterte has ordered an investigation into the anomalies within PhilHealth and directed the prosecution of all officials and employees found to be involved in these anomalous transactions;

11. The filing of a criminal complaint against Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III before the Office of the Ombudsman; the DOH Secretary is charged with violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, and the Plunder Law; the charges arise from a lease contract entered into by a company owned by the Duque family and the PhilHealth regional office in Pangasinan, the DOH Secretary’s links to the owner of WellMed, and his failure to provide medical assistance to children administered with the Dengvaxia vaccine; DOH Secretary Duque has denied these charges and said he strongly supports the President’s anti-corruption campaign;

12. The deportation from Hong Kong (HK) of former DFA Secretary del Rosario on 21 June 2019 for unspecified reasons; Malacañang said the latter may have “misused” his diplomatic passport for a business meeting in HK and the DFA announced it would issue an order cancelling all courtesy diplomatic passports given to former foreign affairs chiefs and ambassadors; ex-DFA Secretary del Rosario considers his deportation as “harassment” arising from the case he filed, along with former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, against Chinese President Xi Jinping for crimes against humanity in connection with the exploitation of marine resources in the West Philippine Sea by Chinese entities;

13. The decision of the Office of the Ombudsman to withdraw the charges of graft and usurpation of official functions filed against former President Benigno S. Aquino III in connection with the January 2015 Mamasapano massacre; Ombudsman Samuel Martires said he found insufficient ground and evidence to charge the former President;

14. The ruling of the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division to deny the motion filed by former Senator Jinggoy Estrada to have his plunder case dismissed; the court’s ruling found that there is sufficient evidence for the trial against the ex-lawmaker to proceed in connection with his alleged involvement in channeling P 183 M of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to bogus non-governmental organizations (NGOs);

15. The appointment of retired Army General Ricardo Morales as the new PhilHealth President and CEO and his vow to revamp the image of the agency by relentlessly investigating the alleged irregularities in the PhilHealth; the National Food Authority (NFA) also has a new head with the appointment of its Deputy Administrator for Marketing Operations Judy Carol Dansal as NFA Administrator;

16. The continued water service interruptions in Metro Manila due to the declining reserves in Angat Dam, with Manila Water customers experiencing service interruptions lasting 12 to 17 hours and Maynilad patrons losing their water supply for up to 19 hours; the situation is expected to improve only after about three (3) months during which time the water level in Angat Dam is projected to normalize; and

17. The increase in headline inflation from 3.0% in April 2019 to 3.2% in May 2019, which the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) attributed to the faster growth in the food and non-alcoholic beverages index and the index of housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels; meanwhile, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said a decline in the unemployment rate from 5.5% in April 2018 to 5.1% a year may be due mainly to the increase in hirings in the services sector during the recent election season; the reduction in the power rates charged by the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) by P 0.1948 per kilowatt hour from May to June 2019 as a result of lower charges from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) and lower transmission charges for residential customers and reduced taxes; the increase in the toll rates along the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) beginning 14 June 2019 in the amount of P 0.51 per kilometer; and the deferment of a water rate hike in Metro Manila following the decision of the Metropolitan Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) to postpone the implementation of the foreign currency differential adjustment (FCDA) to the third quarter of 2019.

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 +/- 2.8% 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: +/- 5.7% for Metro Manila, the rest of Luzon, 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 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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Most Filipino adults (75%) are aware of any of the previous State of the Nation Addresses (SONAs) of the President; topping the list of issues they would like the President to discuss are workers’ salaries, prices of basic commodities, and employment

A big majority of Filipino adults (75%) have heard, read, or watched something about any of the past State of the Nation Addresses (SONAs) delivered by President Rodrigo R. Duterte before Congress. Majority awareness levels are recorded across geographic areas and socio-economic classes (67% to 86% and 73% to 85%, respectively). While essentially the same awareness figures are posted in the different socio-economic groupings, awareness is more pronounced in Metro Manila and Mindanao than in the rest of Luzon (81% to 86% versus 67%). Year-on-year, awareness of any of the previous SONAs of the President eases at the national level (-8 percentage points) as well as in the rest of Luzon and Class D (-13 and -11 percentage points, respectively). (Please refer to Table 1.)

In terms of the issues the public would most like President Duterte to discuss or mention during his 22 July 2019 SONA, the most often cited ones are those related to increasing the pay of workers (17.1%), reducing the prices of basic goods (17.1%), and creating more jobs or livelihood opportunities (15.2%). Meanwhile, for 9.2% of Filipino adults, issues surrounding the relations between the Philippines and China should be tackled by the President in his upcoming SONA. In particular, 6.1% are of the opinion that the latter should assert Philippine sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea while 3.1% say he should explain the country’s policy in relation to China. (Please refer to Table 2.)

Other issues to be discussed by President Duterte in his next SONA that are cited by at least 5.0% of Filipino adults are those dealing with fighting illegal drugs (7.8%) and improving the agricultural sector (5.9%). The rest of the issues and concerns are each mentioned by at most 2.6% of Filipino adults.

Among Metro Manilans, the most often mentioned issues that President Duterte should discuss in his July 2019 SONA are those about Philippine-Chinese relations (20.2%), employment (18.3%), workers’ pay (16.6%), and prices of basic goods (10.7%). In the rest of Luzon, the top responses are workers’ pay (21.7%), inflation (18.4%), and job creation (17.6%). Visayans would most like President Duterte to talk about inflation (16.8%), jobs (14.9%), illegal drugs (13.0%), workers’ pay (11.3%), and the relations between the Philippines and China (9.6%). The leading issues among Mindanawons are inflation (18.5%), agriculture (14.4%), workers’ pay (13.0%), employment (8.9%), and illegal drugs (8.3%).

Numerically speaking, the most often cited issue of those in Class ABC concerns the relations between the Philippines and China (21.3%). In Class D, the leading responses are workers’ pay (18.8%), inflation (16.4%), employment (15.2%), and Philippine-China relations (9.7%). As for those in Class E, they would most like President Duterte to discuss lowering the prices of basic commodities (20.8%), creating jobs or livelihood opportunities (16.5%), fighting illegal drugs (10.3%), and increasing wages (9.3%).