Dangerous signs in the latest Pulse Asia survey
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2011-03-24
The 5 percent drop in the approval and trust ratings of President Noynoy Aquino III (P-Noy) in the February 24 to March 6 Pulse Asia survey is statistically insignificant. At 74 percent approval and 80 percent trust ratings, P-Noy continues to enjoy overwhelming support across all socio-economic classes.

P-Noy only registered a 7 percent disapproval and 6 percent distrust rating. Compare that to the over 65 percent disapproval and no-trust ratings of Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) and you’ll see how strong a support the P-Noy administration still gets. GMA’s support base — approval and trust — hovered around 20 to 25 percent only.

However, this doesn’t mean that P-Noy has nothing to worry about. On the contrary, the Pulse Asia survey indicates serious areas of concerns that the administration must address. In fact, P-Noy is lucky that he only registered a 5 percent drop in approval and trust ratings. That period from February 24 to March 6 was when adverse effects of the Middle East crisis were raging.

Filipinos in strife torn areas like Libya were in danger of becoming combat zone casualties. Television addiction to melodrama and lack of balance had overly highlighted the wailing and panic of these overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their kinfolks here — making the government look ineffective. Commodity prices here had skyrocketed owing to fears of a major disruption in oil supplies. It was also the time when the Taiwan problem was raging, when Filipinos seeking jobs in Taiwan were suddenly held back and those with jobs there were in fear of being sent home. If not for the euphoric commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the 1986 People Power Revolution, these events triggered by the Middle East crisis could have caused a double digit drop in P-Noy’s approval and trust ratings.

Compared to Pulse Asia’s October 10 survey, P-Noy registered in this latest survey a minus 11 percent drop in JOB CREATION, a minus 8 percent drop, respectively, in CONTROLLING INFLATION and INCREASING WORKERS WAGES. P-Noy also registered a minus 11 percent drop in CONTROLLING POPULATION. Expect the repatriation of OFWs from the Middle East and Japan to add to the misery index.

On these issues of JOB CREATION, CONTROLLING INFLATION, INCREASING WORKERS WAGES and CONTROLLING POPULATION — P-Noy registered double digit disapproval ratings that ranged from 19 to as high as 32 percent. This is alarming when you consider that on these same issues anywhere from 29 to 37 percent were undecided. Undecided means that they’re no longer convinced that P-Noy is doing a good job — not yet condemning him but getting there.

Admittedly, many of these negative factors that are weighing down P-Noy’s perceived performance are externally induced. The administration cannot control or even hope to influence the rising cost of oil that is caused by the Middle East crisis. The administration has limited resources to cope with the number of OFWs that suddenly want to be repatriated.

Two areas of improvements that P-Noy can undertake in order to arrest this downtrend of support are, as follows: 

1. Preserve his political capital and avoid being dragged into bad situations that dissipate political capital. Instead of supporting P-Noy, the Liberal Party (LP) has displayed this tendency to waste his political capital.
2. Replace his Messaging Team which has been doing a substandard job of balancing the very negative media stories. For too long, the many good undertakings of the P-Noy administration remain unheralded. P-Noy is losing points by default.

The LP is making the other administration allies feel like third class distant cousins. Too many legislators are complaining about selective budget allocations for LP and non-LP allies. The LP is also playing politics too early, trying to pave the way for their official candidates for the 2013 Elections. P-Noy will lose his other allies if this perception that “the future is only for the LP” sinks deeper.

Many of the administration’s non-LP allies felt that P-Noy was unnecessarily dragged into making a stand in the Ombudsman’s impeachment case. The Opposition made political capital out of this during last Monday’s plenary debate. Some non-LP allies even felt that they didn’t have a role in the impeachment process which seemed to them more like an exclusive LP franchise. Such sentiments of an “exclusive LP franchise” will undermine P-Noy’s political coalition.

P-Noy needs every ally that he has if he is to fulfill his mission. His mission should be solely focused on the reforms that he promised the nation. Making another LP member the next president of the country is not his mission — on the contrary, going for that LP objective will jeopardize his big mission.

In the House of Representatives, there are only around 40 hard core LPs. In the Senate, there are only 6 LPs. The administration controls both Houses only because of the coalition. P-Noy’s reform agenda must held above the conflicts of political parties.

P-Noy owes his ascendancy to the people and not to the LP. It is the people’s quest for a better life where he must invest his political capital and not on the future of a Liberal Party that seems unable to avoid making amateurish blunders.

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