, NOVEMBER 15, 2007 (STAR) By Helen Flores T- Amid the ZTE bribery and cash handout scandals, public trust in President Arroyo took a beating last month while her disapproval rating ranked highest among the country’s top five national officials, a recent survey shows.

Distrust is the predominant sentiment toward the President, as expressed by 46 percent of Filipinos, Pulse Asia’s Ulat ng Bayan survey taken from Oct. 20 to 31 revealed.

In contrast, 23 percent trust her while about one in three Filipinos, or 31 percent, cannot say if they trust her or not.

Thirty-nine percent of the 1,200 survey respondents are critical of the President’s performance, more than they are of Vice President Noli de Castro, Senate President Manuel Villar Jr., Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. nd Chief Justice Reynato Puno.

The same survey showed that the level of public appreciation of Mrs. Arroyo’s work at 30 percent is almost the same as that for De Venecia (33 percent) and Puno (32 percent).

As in July 2007, only De Castro and Villar scored majority approval ratings this quarter at 55 percent and 61 percent, respectively. They also posted the lowest disapproval ratings – six percent for the Senate leader and 15 percent for the vice president.

Metro Manilans continue to be most critical of the President at 51 percent, while the lowest disapproval rating (33 percent) is recorded among Visayans.

These figures are higher than those recorded in July 2007 (+14 and +12 percentage points, respectively). In Mindanao, the level of disapproval increased by 10 percentage points during this period to 42 percent.

Residents of the national capital were also most distrustful of Mrs. Arroyo at 54 percent, whereas Visayans gave the lowest rating of 41 percent.

Pulse Asia noted that changes in the President’s overall trust and indecision ratings of –2 and –6 percentage points, respectively, “are marginal as they fall within the survey’s margin of error (+/- 6 percentage points for percentage changes).”

Still, the upward movement in her overall distrust rating between July and October 2007 is significant at +9 percentage points, it added.

Overall, the President’s performance ratings remained generally constant in the last three months despite the significant number of Filipinos who continue to be critical of her.

“The President scores the same overall approval rating in July and October 2007 while there are only marginal movements in her overall indecision and disapproval ratings during this period (-5 and +5 percentage points, respectively),” Pulse Asia said.

Across socio-economic classes, nearly the same disapproval ratings are posted (39 percent to 41 percent), but while the figures in the most numerous Class D are practically unchanged between July and October 2007, there is an 11 percentage point increase of disapproval among the best-off Class ABC and the poorest Class E.

Presently, indecision ratings of the President are generally consistent with the overall figure (31 percent) across geographic areas and socio-economic classes (26 percent to 36 percent), Pulse Asia said.

Levels of public ambivalence on the President’s performance are also relatively constant between July and October 2007 except in Metro Manila and Class E where they go down by 13 percentage points, it said.

As for approval ratings, figures range from 21 percent in Metro Manila to 34 percent in the Visayas.

Between July and October 2007, presidential approval ratings are practically constant across geographic areas and socio-economic groupings, Pulse Asia said.

Among the top five national officials, public ambivalence is most pronounced in Puno’s case while Mrs. Arroyo, De Castro and Villar obtain almost the same indecision ratings (30 percent to 33 percent).

“Between July and October 2007, there is hardly any change – positive or negative – in the Filipino public’s assessment of the performance of the country’s top national officials with the only notable movement being the seven-percentage point increase in the indecision rating of Senate President Villar,” Pulse Asia explained.

The Senate is investigating the national broadband contract that the government awarded in April to Chinese firm ZTE Corp. Mrs. Arroyo has cancelled it due to the controversy it has created.

De Venecia’s businessman-son Jose “Joey” de Venecia III is the whistleblower in the ZTE-NBN scandal.

At the time the interviews for the Pulse Asia survey were taken, the news that dominated the headlines were the alleged cash bribes handed out to selected local government officials and legislators last Oct. 11 in Malacañang, supposedly to stop the impeachment attempt against Mrs. Arroyo, the rift between the President and De Venecia over the ZTE bribery and cash handout controversies, the Senate’s investigation of the ZTE contract, the granting of presidential pardon to ousted President Joseph Estrada, the holding of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, and the increasing price of oil in the global market as well as the steady appreciation of the Philippine peso.

The Pulse Asia national survey was conducted using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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