Business World, 13 June 2012


On the important issues that affect the ordinary man on the street, there is a sharp rise in the Filipinos’ disapproval rating, and a significant drop in their approval rating, of the Aquino administration, according to Pulse Asia’s May 2012 survey results. Compared to the October 2010 results, during the “honeymoon” period, a majority of Filipinos then approved of Aquino’s handling of eight in 10 selected national issues. Today the majority approval rating is down to three issues and they are not even economic.

Of the five most urgent national issues, four are economic in nature and one is on governance. The respondents identified the following most important issues (in parenthesis is the percentage of those who indicated so): controlling inflation (54%), increasing the pay of workers (49%), fighting corruption (37%), reducing poverty(35%), and creating more jobs (33%).

A comparison of the May 2012 survey results with the October 2010 survey results shows a sharp decline in citizens’ approval of the Aquino administration on issues that affect them the most: reducing poverty (approval rating of 47% to 29%, or a loss of 18%), controlling inflation (from 45% to 28%, or loss of 17%), increasing the pay of workers (from 56% to 42% or minus 14%), and creation of jobs (from 59% to 41% or minus 18%).

Worse, the disapproval ratings of the Aquino administration has doubled on issues that affect the poor the most. In October last year, 18% of respondents disapproved of the way the Aquino administration was performing on the issue of poverty reduction. In May 2012, the disapproval rating on poverty reduction has soared to 35%, nearly twice the level 19 months ago.

The latest Pulse Asia survey results show that more people disapprove (35%) than approve (29%), of by a margin of 6%, in the way the current administration is implementing its poverty reduction programs.

But it is in the way the Aquino administration is controlling inflation that the net satisfaction rating is truly disappointing. More people disapprove (40%) than approve (28%), or a net approval rating of -12%, of the way Aquino is addressing rising prices. This is a surprise since inflation rate, according to official statistics, has been relatively tame. From January to May, average inflation rate was 3.0%. Food inflation was much lower.

Perhaps even a slight uptick in prices is too heavy to bear for the poor and the jobless.

Poverty reduction is related to other national issues like job creation, improving the pay of workers, moderating inflation, and, in the long run, controlling fast population growth.

And on these issues, the rise in dissatisfaction rating was equally serious: controlling inflation (from 21% to 37%, or an increase by 16 percentage points),and increasing the pay of workers (from 14% to 23%, or by 9 percentage points).

The number of citizens who feel that the Aquino administration has failed to enforce the law unbiasedly has increased too. Perhaps many people were reminded of the slow progress in prosecuting those responsible for the abominable Maguindanao massacre.

People’s dissatisfaction with the way the Aquino administration is handling issues to control fast population growth has doubled. From a dissatisfaction level of 13% in October 2010, this has jumped to 26% in May 2012. Many people are unhappy with the way Mr. Aquino has pussyfooted on the Reproductive Health Bill.

Yesterday, I talked about the falling public satisfaction with President Aquino based on a survey done by Social Weather Stations in May 24-27. Compared to his “honeymoon” score in October 2010, almost two years ago, his net score was down 18 points to +42 (63% satisfied minus the 21% dissatisfied) from October 2010’s +60 (71% satisfied minus the 11% dissatisfied).

And it was in the National Capital Region that public satisfaction with Aquino plummeted the most. Aquino’s score was down 48 points (almost half of adult population) to +18 (48% satisfied minus the 30% dissatisfied) from October 2010’s +66 (76% satisfied minus 10% dissatisfied). Joblessness happens to be the highest in metropolitan Manila.

Now, the Pulse Asia survey results have provided additional insights on the likely reasons for the horrible decline in the Filipino public’s satisfaction with Aquino. It’s mostly the lack of jobs. When one is poor and jobless, even a moderate rise in prices is going to be unbearable.