Two recent surveys highlight where the wind is blowing. Both surveys were conducted between December 3 to 7, 2011, and released by BusinessWorld. First, SWS tracked that survey indicated President Aquino ends 2011 with a “Very Good” rating— a +58 score, which is up from a dismal 46 in June 2011. The second survey tells us that the public perceives the Government’s treatment of Arroyo to be ‘fair’, and 73 percent has very little trust in the former president. This bodes well for President Aquino’s campaign against corruption, and explains why in recent weeks any sympathy that the Arroyo family sought to gain from the public fell on deaf ears.
Historically, as SWS revealed, Philippine Presidents enjoy high satisfaction ratings at the beginning of their term. The first President Aquino for example enjoyed above 50 satisfaction ratings from 1986 until September 1988. President Ramos enjoyed above 50 satisfaction from September 1992 until December 1994. President Estrada enjoyed it from September 1998 until June 1999. President Arroyo never did, and never rising above 30— which indicates that the public was never satisfied with her.
Aquino’s ‘Very good’, grade highlights that he has the public behind him, as he enacts his public policy. In a recent tweet, the President said that the “learning curve” is over. It better be. It would be harder to govern with low satisfaction ratings, but as the first Aquino president and her successor— President Ramos indicate, not impossible.
Recently, the media and the Arroyo PR machine would like us to believe that there is a shadow of doubt over President Aquino’s actions in bringing former President Arroyo to justice. The survey taken in the same period as President Aquino’s high trust rating indicates that the public has rubber stamped Aquino’s moves, and marked it “fair”. So doubt cast that Mrs. Arroyo’s ‘rights’ were violated, doesn’t stick, nor do claims that if this happens to Mrs. Arroyo’s rights, and it impacts the rest of us— as some have suggested doesn’t stick. The public trusts President Aquino, and distrusts Congresswoman Arroyo’s camp.
The survey also validates Aquino’s rationale to bring back a sense of right and wrong in our national lives. That this isn’t a question of law, but a question of morality. Which brings us to an interesting question, where does the CBCP fall in trust rating? Do the public trust the CBCP or is the answer suppressed?
Going back to the survey result, it unfortunately doesn’t factor in Sendong. I would suspect it would have very little impact— though some are arguing that it would have a negative impact on the President’s trust rating. We will have to wait until the next survey is released, but for now, this survey is about the political ramifications of the Aquino-Arroyo War. And like 2010 before it, Aquino is in right side of public opinion.
The very good perception on President Aquino gives him blanket authority to wage war on corruption. So entering the Corona impeachment case for example is good for President Aquino.
Does this mean the public is blind to President Aquino’s “atrocities”? As some assert that he is trampling on people’s rights, and violating the law. Filipinos are historically known for doing the right thing. In the recent Pacquiao-Marquez bout for example, many Filipinos were disappointed in the match, and perceived that Pacman was going to lose. Some even so much as cried foul that Marquez was somehow cheated.
During the last Impeachment case, it wasn’t so much as the evidence that irked public opinion. It was the arrogance of senators dancing as having gotten Estrada off the hook. That drama ultimately cost Estrada his presidency. If the evidence presented were a dud, the public would have reacted accordingly. It isn’t blind. And Filipinos do follow a sense of right and wrong. So true will this hold in the case against Corona, and the case against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. If the evidence will not convict, then the public will not convict. So for Chief Justice Corona, and Congresswoman Arroyo there is an opportunity to “win”, and for President Aquino, he has much riding on succeeding, but more importantly, succeeding to win correctly will determine public perception on his action, and his presidency.
What’s interesting is that much of the negative opinion coming out of media— both mainstream and on social media doesn’t seem representative of public opinion. There seem to be a disconnect between the two. Is it like Media’s mojo is off track, or is this all simply, an “echo chamber effect” that we need to filter through?
What’s clear is this. First, media doesn’t seem to clearly capture public sentiment. And second, Public sentiment is on the side of government. The public approves of what the President has done vis-a-vis the case against Congresswoman Arroyo, and by extension the case against Chief Justice Corona. The Arroyo camp, or for that matter— Corona’s camp need not entirely despair. How trial is conducted weigh heavily on whether the public will accept whatever verdict comes.
Table by SWS, Pie chart by BrandMonitor