Philippine President Benigno Aquino

Philippine President Benigno Aquino’s approval ratings plunge to new low

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 July, 2014, 10:28pm
UPDATED : Monday, 27 April, 2015, 5:21pm

Philippine President Benigno Aquino's performance ratings have plunged to their lowest ever, two independent pollsters said yesterday, as a perception grew that he is not serious enough in efforts to fight corruption.

Aquino won the presidency in 2010 on a promise of good governance and fighting graft, but has struggled to rid the country of its image as the most corrupt in Asia.

A survey by independent pollster Pulse Asia, taken last month, showed Aquino's approval rating dropped from 70 per cent in March to 56 per cent. His trust rating also fell from 69 per cent to 53 per cent in the same period.

Another survey, by Social Weather Stations, also carried out last month, showed Aquino's net satisfaction ratings dropped to 25 per cent from 45 per cent in March, the lowest in four years.

His highest rating was 67 per cent in August 2012.

Aquino is ineligible for re-election under the constitution but the prospects for his Liberal Party's candidate are likely to be damaged if his popularity is undermined in the run-up to a 2016 presidential election.

"This is the largest decline in both approval and trust and it's also his lowest performance thus far," said Ana Maria Tabunda, Pulse Asia's research director.

She said people were disillusioned by widespread corruption in government. Tabunda said the survey was largely complete by the time the Supreme Court rejected an Aquino creation of discretionary funds, called a Disbursement Acceleration Programme, which has become the administration's worst crisis in four years.

Edwin Lacierda, the president's spokesman, acknowledged a "dip in enthusiasm" but said he was not alarmed.

"These numbers can be considered par for the course or average for this period," he said. "A healthy majority has expressed trust and confidence in the president."

Since 2010, Aquino has enjoyed high approval and trust ratings of more than 70 per cent, rising to 80 per cent, his highest, in early 2012. But his approval could be further undermined as the ramifications of the scandal over the discretionary fund play out.

"The president has to make drastic measures, like displaying impartiality in the corruption cases, meaning he has to crack the whip even on his own allies," said Earl Parreno, of the independent Institute for Political and Electoral Reform.

"If he continues to protect allies, then it will be hard to stop the skid."