High ratings make Duterte’s job easier

PRESIDENT Duterte’s ability to address gut issues and find quick solutions to them is endearing him to a great majority of the Filipinos.

A good majority of Filipinos has given him the stamp of approval for his performance in the first quarter of 2019. A survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) in the first three months of the year showed a “very good” net satisfaction rating for the country’s top executive.

The results of the SWS survey showed that 79 percent of respondents were satisfied with the President’s performance, 8 percent were undecided, while 13 percent were dissatisfied with his leadership.

“Compared to December 2018, gross satisfaction with President Duterte rose by five points from 74 percent, gross undecided fell by three points from 11 percent, and gross dissatisfaction fell by two points from 15 percent,” says the SWS. This gives a net satisfaction rating of +66, classified by SWS as very good, a six-point improvement from the previous very good +60 in December last year.

I believe that President Duterte’s quick response to the rice shortage last year and the attending high inflation rate in the latter part of 2019 convinced the Filipinos further that he is a no-nonsense leader, who will immediately act decisively when confronted with gut issues such as food shortage and high prices.

Duterte’s high approval rating is evident across the Philippines. His net satisfaction rating in Mindanao stayed “excellent” at a record-high +88, up by 15 points from the previous +73. It stayed “very good” in the Visayas at +69, up by seven points from +62 in December. It remained “very good” in the rest or Balance of Luzon at +56, up by four points from +52 in December. It also stayed “very good” in Metro Manila at +61, up by three points from +58 three months ago.

Rural net satisfaction with the President was “very good” at a record-high +69, up by 12 points from +57, exceeding the previous record of +67 in September 2016. Urban net satisfaction was “very good” at +62 despite a two-point dip. As I’ve said earlier, President Duterte’s higher approval rating is a clear affirmation of his mandate to govern the country and implement policies to improve the lot of the Filipinos and the overall economy, despite the claims of the opposition and his ardent critics.

Presidential Spokesman and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador S. Panelo said the survey results sent a “crystal clear message” that the overwhelming majority who support the President did not believe the critics’ black propaganda.

“The critics, detractors and the political opposition have been deaf to the voice of a great majority of our people, and blind to the sweeping changes in the political and social landscape affected by this unorthodox, maverick and daredevil leader who is fiercely devoted to — and protective of — the interest of the greater masses of our people,” says Panelo.

President Duterte’s overwhelming public support allows him to perform his job without much distraction. He can better focus on the agenda at hand, create more jobs through “Build, Build, Build,” and significantly reduce the country’s poverty incidence.

The Philippine economy, despite the brewing trade spat between the United States and China, surging oil prices in the international market and the messy Brexit, is expected to expand by over 6 percent this year.

ING Bank Manila senior economist Nicholas Mapa, in fact, said the Philippines could expect another credit ratings upgrade sooner than later from global rating agencies amid the country’s robust economic growth and strong external position, backed by the government’s ongoing reforms, especially in the area of taxation.

“Given the dynamics akin to the Philippines, with aces in the form of steady overseas Filipino remittances and BPO receipts, the Philippines remains more insulated than regional peers even in light of the possible trade war,” says Mapa.

“If the government can help support the growth momentum and, at the same time, ensure that the infrastructure buildup continues, we can expect ratings agencies to take notice sooner rather than later,” he adds.

The Department of Finance agreed with the possibility that the Philippines would receive another ratings upgrade in the near term with the country showing signs of resilience in the face of global headwinds. The Philippines currently enjoys investment grade ratings from Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings.

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This piece first came out in Business Mirror on April 23, 2019 under the column “The Entrepreneur.” For comments/feedback e-mail to: [email protected] or visitwww.mannyvillar.com.ph./PN

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