MANILA, JUNE 17, 2013 (INQUIRER) By Mahar Mangahas - The satisfaction of Filipinos with the performance of their national government, from mid-2010 until the first quarter of 2013, is unprecedented ever since Social Weather Stations began tracking it in 1989 (see “Satisfaction with gov’t dips but still ‘very good’,” BusinessWorld, 6/06/2013).

The last two quarterly surveys found hardly any change in the percentages satisfied (68 in March 2013 and 70 in December 2012) or dissatisfied (15 in March and 13 in December). The net satisfaction rates of +53 in March and +57 in December are both in the SWS range for Very Good, which is from +50 to +69. (Excellent starts at +70.)

What is really remarkable, however, is that the administrations of Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Arroyo not once got a Very Good net rating. Neither did that of Cory Aquino have any Very Good in 1989-1992, when this particular SWS indicator was running, though it had certainly been very popular earlier, most of all in 1986 and 1987. Note that this rating refers to the performance of the national administration in general, not that of the president in particular.

In 1989-1992, the latter part of Cory Aquino’s time, the best net rating was a Moderate +23, out of eight SWS survey rounds. The 24 SWS surveys in Ramos’ six years found two Good scores, of +33 and +31. The 10 surveys in Estrada’s abbreviated term found one Good score, of +36. The best scores in the 35 SWS surveys in Arroyo’s nine years were two Moderate +27s. (SWS uses Good for net scores of +30 to +49, and Moderate for net scores of +10 to +29.)

On the other hand, the 11 SWS surveys in P-Noy’s term so far have gotten seven Very Goods, topped by two +64s in 2010, and four Goods, the lowest being a +44 in May 2012. Thus, the worst score under P-Noy is higher than the best score under any previous president, since 1989.

The administration’s current report card. Each quarter, SWS asks respondents about their satisfaction with the performance of the national administration in at least a dozen specific subjects, thus producing a quarterly report card.

The first quarter of 2013 has a report card of 17 subjects. The latest grades are Very Good (VG) in two subjects, Good (G) in seven subjects, Moderate (M) in four subjects, Neutral (N, between +9 and -9) in three subjects, and Poor (P, from -10 to -29) in one subject.

The Very Good grades are in “helping the poor” (+56) and “promoting the welfare of overseas Filipino workers” (+50).

“Helping the poor” is a core, or permanent, subject in the SWS report card. It has been VG about half of the time under P-Noy; otherwise it was G, with its lowest at +35 in May 2012. For comparison, it went G only twice under Ramos, only once under Estrada, and never under Arroyo.

The Good grades are in “foreign relations” (+47), “transparency in providing information about government activities” (+38), “defending the country’s territorial rights” (+37), “promoting foreign investments in our country” (+33), “fighting terrorism” (+33), “reconciliation with Muslim rebels” (+31), and “providing jobs” (+30).

“Foreign relations,” another core subject, has been graded since Ramos’ time. It has never gone below G under P-Noy; previously it was usually M.

“Defending territorial rights” has been always G under P-Noy. It was previously graded only in Estrada’s time, as borderline G or high M.

“Foreign investments” has had four Gs under P-Noy, after one M. It was previously graded in Ramos’ time, getting many Ms and a few Ns, and in Arroyo’s time, getting one G, a few Ms, and a few Ns.

“Reconciliation with Muslim rebels” is split between Gs and Ms in P-Noy’s time. Estrada’s time had all Ms, except for one N; Arroyo’s time had many Ns, several Ms, and one P.

The Moderate grades are in “reconciliation with communist rebels” (+28), “eradicating graft and corruption in government” (+19), “fighting crimes that victimize ordinary citizens, like killings, holdups, robberies, physical violence, etc.” (+17) and “resolving the armed conflict in Sabah between Malaysia and the armed family and supporters of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III” (+13).

“Eradicating graft and corruption,” a core indicator, has been at M, but had one G, in P-Noy’s time. Previously, it was mostly P or VP (Very Poor, from -30 to -49). The great exception was a VG in 1987; but it slipped quickly to M, and was negative thereafter.

“Fighting crime,” a core indicator, has been at M or else G in P-Noy’s time. Since Cory Aquino’s time up to mid-2010 it was mostly at N, often at P, and rarely at M.

The Neutral grades are in “ensuring that no family will be hungry and have nothing to eat” (+7), “fighting inflation” (+4), and “ensuring that oil firms don’t take advantage of oil prices” (+4).

“Fighting hunger” has been a core indicator since 2004, when it was in Bad territory (-30 to -49). It never got above P up to mid-2010. In P-Noy’s term it has always been positive, at either M or N.

“Fighting inflation,” another core indicator, was negative from 1991 up to mid-2010, going as low as Very Bad (-50 to -69). In P-Noy’s term it has been at M or N, and only once went negative.

The sole Poor grade is in “resolving the Maguindanao massacre case with justice” (-26).

The bottom line of all this is that President Noynoy Aquino has amassed so much more goodwill with the Filipino people than all of his predecessors at almost any time of their terms in office. With so much political capital at his disposal, he can afford to make bolder moves in the public interest.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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