ES Jojo Ochoa's Pulse Asia rating debunked his detractors
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2011-05-05
In the recent Pulse Asia survey on the approval ratings of Cabinet Secretaries of President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy), Executive Secretary (ES) Jojo Ochoa registered a six-point increase from his previous mark — making it the most dramatic rating improvement.  

Conducted between February 24 and March 6 this year among 1,200 respondents nationwide, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima ranked as the most popular Cabinet member with a 61 percent approval rating — an increase by one percentage point from her previous Pulse Asia mark. Sec. de Lima replaced erstwhile survey leader Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman whose approval rating had dropped by six points to 59 percent.

Both Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Cayetano Paderanga Jr. landed third place with 43 percentage points. Considering Dondon Paderanga’s relative low key media profile — this comes as a pleasant surprise.

Jojo Ochoa ranked fourth with 39 percent. Considering the demolition job being undertaken against Ochoa since last year, this improvement would indicate that the public didn’t believe his detractors. Targeted from Day 1 of the P-Noy administration, Ochoa has been unfairly projected as incompetent, a womanizer, boozer and they even tried to suggest that a mansion owned by his brother-in-law belonged to the Executive Secretary.

Ochoa had become more visible in media this year compared to 2010 although his biggest contributions, like the shepherding of the political coalition supporting the P-Noy administration, are hardly known and recognized.

Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo and Strategic Planning and Development Secretary Ricky Carandang also registered improved marks — rating 38 percent and 36 percent, respectively.

Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Presidential Management Staff head Julia Abad all registered 37 percentage points. Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo had a 36 percent approval rating. Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin had 34 percent while Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma had 31 percent.

The Pulse Asia results jibe with the SWS (Social Weather Stations) March 4-11, 2011 survey where the entire Cabinet scored a satisfaction rating of 47 percent versus 23 percent dissatisfied. The P-Noy Cabinet rating improved by 6 percent from the SWS November 27-30, 2010 survey where it rated 41 percent.

Two factors would influence a public official’s public approval rating and these are:

1. Adequate media visibility. The public cannot rate you favorably if you’re not in their consciousness. This presupposes that the stories that come out in media about you are generally positive.

2. Effective refutation of the big issues being raised against you. Even high media visibility cannot offset big unaddressed issues against a public official. Dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos enjoyed a media monopoly but that did not prevent his stink from inciting the people to oust him.

In the case of Spokesman Edwin Lacierda and Communications Secretaries Ricky Carandang and Sonny Coloma, their respective approval ratings seem to coincide with their media visibility. During the period of the Pulse Asia survey, Ricky Carandang had taken a greater visibility in projecting the P-Noy administration. Of the three, Sonny Coloma had the least media visibility.

It would seem that the drop in P-Noy’s ratings in the Pulse Asia and SWS First Quarter surveys were largely due to inadequate media projection. There are really very few big issues against P-Noy at this time. The biggest issue, which is that of escalating prices, is externally induced but is not properly explained. The Porsche issue is a weak one and could not have been the cause of the drop.

P-Noy is not without significant achievements. The problem is Ricky Carandang, in charge of Messaging, has not effectively communicated these. During P-Noy’s April 17 speech to the new graduates of UP (University of the Philippines), he said in Filipino: “We have gained much ground, which is why it disheartens me sometimes that the good news does not reach our people. I hope you do not take it against me if I take this opportunity to reduce the negativity.”

There are tremendous savings and increased revenues that government is now enjoying from P-Noy’s DAANG MATUWID (straight path). PAGCOR (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation) revenues went up by almost 300 percent as other GOCCs (Government Operated and Controlled Corporations) also delivered impressive increases in their revenues. From 2.5 million metric tons, this year’s rice importation is down to less than 1 million metric tons.

In the Public Works Department under Sec. Babes Singson, about P1.3 billion was rescued from possible theft and the amount could go as high as P7 billion. About 1 million beneficiaries have already benefited last year from the CCT (Conditional Cash Transfer) Program and the government is aiming this year to raise this to 2.3 million beneficiaries. There are no big integrity issues like the Fertilizer Fund Scam and the ZTE-NBN deal that have emerged against the president and his Cabinet.

The lack of output in media about P-Noy’s achievements is partly due to the wrong orientation of Philippine media, especially television. However, a good part of the problem is the lack of inputs from the president’s Messaging Team. On Sunday, Manny Pacquiao will lose to Sugar Shane Mosley if all he’ll do is to defend and will not throw haymakers.

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