President Duterte’s honeymoon period could be over after a survey yesterday (Sunday, October 9) showed a fall in popular support.
The president has enjoyed consistently strong opinion poll numbers since winning the presidency but scrutiny of his war on drugs, which has killed thousands of Filipinos, appears to have hit his ratings.
Trust and satisfaction in him fell to the lowest of his presidency in the third quarter of this year, a survey showed, although sentiment about his leadership remained positive overall.
The president saw an 18-point decline in his net satisfaction rating in the September 2017 survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS), while his net trust rating slid by 15 points. His net satisfaction rating of +48 was still classified as “good” by the SWS, while his net trust rating of +60 is “very good.”
“The honeymoon period of the president is usually for a year, so this is expected,” his communications secretary, Martin Andanar, said in a radio interview. He added that it would motivate the government to deliver on its overall objectives.
The SWS survey was conducted between September 23-27 — two days after thousands of Filipinos rallied to denounce the bloody war on drugs.
The high death toll has stoked international alarm, although domestic polls have shown Filipinos are largely supportive of his tough measures.
Police say they have killed 3,900 drug suspects during anti-drug operations but deny that any executions have taken place — as alleged by human rights groups.
The campaign has been under close scrutiny recently, largely due to the high-profile killing by police of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos on August 16, which led to a senate probe. A murder investigation is continuing.
Police claimed he was a drug suspect killed because he opened fire on them. However CCTV footage showed him being manhandled by police. His family insists he was executed.
Critics of the president have been quick to take advantage of his ratings slump, which they say reflects discontent and scepticism about his drugs war.
“It’s very encouraging to know that the Filipino people are beginning to see the light,” said Senator Antonio Trillanes, a fierce opponent who has recently accused the president of concealing his wealth when he was Davao City mayor.
“They are now seeing Duterte for who he really is: a lying, rude, amoral, corrupt and oppressive former mayor who is totally incompetent about governance at the national level.”
Senator Risa Hontiveros, another opponent of the president, said the ratings dip showed that his “authoritarian style of governance is losing its appeal and support”.
“The writing on the wall is simple and clear: President Duterte cannot govern based on fear, lies and killings,” she said.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella also conceded that the honeymoon was over, but said that the president was not motivated by popularity ratings. Instead he was “bent on making sure that he addresses the three campaign themes which is crime, corruption and illegal drugs”.
Previously, the president’s office has cited SWS polls as proof of his public support.