Almost seven in every 10 adult Filipinos last month considered controlling escalating prices the most urgent national issue for which the Aquino administration received its lowest public approval rating, the latest Pulse Asia survey found.
Prices of goods and services have gone up largely as a result of a series of fuel price increases, while minimum wages have stagnated.
The survey, conducted from February 26 to March 9, also found that the least urgent of the issues the administration must address included “ensuring a fair trial for Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona” (13 percent) and “running after former and current government officials accused of graft and corruption” (12 percent).
13 national issues
The nationwide survey asked 1,200 respondents in face-to-face interviews to pick the most urgent from a list of 13 national issues provided by Pulse Asia. The survey also asked respondents to rate the administration’s performance on 11 issues.
The administration got the lowest approval rating on “controlling inflation,” with 28 percent approving its performance while 40 percent disapproving, resulting in a net approval rating (approval minus disapproval) of minus 12.
Controlling inflation was a concern of the majority of respondents across all geographic areas (64 percent to 74 percent) and socioeconomic classes (66 percent to 71 percent).
Reacting to the results of the survey, Malacañang said it had been able to come up with a “manageable” inflation environment as shown by the inflation rates in the last two months.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda cited the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas report of April 4 that said that “year-on-year headline inflation continued to decelerate in March to 2.6 percent from 2.7 percent in February.”
“This means we are even below the government’s target inflation range of 3 to 5 percent for 2012: the March rate in fact (was) the lowest since September 2009 and the February rates were second only to Malaysia’s 2.2 inflation rate in the Southeast Asian region, out-performing even such developed countries as Singapore (4.5 percent),” Lacierda said in a statement.
He said the government remained sensitive to public sentiment on inflation and continued to make sure “that global trends do not adversely affect our people.”
“The pursuit of inclusive growth continues to be a cornerstone of our economic agenda and the public can rest assured that the administration will sustain its efforts so that no one is left behind on the straight and righteous path toward equitable progress,” Lacierda said.
Wages, corruption, jobs
Other most urgent national concerns that the Aquino administration should address include: wage increase (62 percent), fighting corruption (53 percent), job creation (53 percent) and poverty reduction (52 percent).
Of the five issues deemed most urgent, the administration’s efforts at fighting corruption got a net approval rating of 44.
This was followed by the administration’s net approval ratings on job creation (20), wage increase (15) and poverty reduction (2).
Fighting corruption was deemed urgent by those in Metro Manila and Luzon outside Manila (52 percent to 57 percent) and socioeconomic classes ABC and D (53 percent to 56 percent), according to Pulse Asia.
Wage increase was a majority concern across all geographic areas (59 to 67 percent) and socioeconomic classes (55 percent to 64 percent).
Similarly, job creation was a majority concern in all socioeconomic classes (52 percent to 54 percent) and nearly all areas (53 percent to 58 percent) except Mindanao (46 percent).
Poverty reduction, on the other hand, was identified as urgent by majorities in Metro Manila, the Visayas and Mindanao (51 percent to 55 percent) and classes D and E (52 percent to 53 percent).
Pulse Asia noted that approval and indecision ratings on some issues were practically the same, particularly on efforts to address wage increase (40 percent versus 35 percent) and job creation (41 percent versus 38 percent).
Pulse Asia also noted a split in public opinion concerning government efforts to address poverty, with 38 percent undecided, 32 percent expressing approval and 30 percent showing disapproval.
Taking the sixth to ninth spots on the list of most urgent national issues were the peace situation (39 percent), environment protection (37 percent), law enforcement for all (37 percent) and crime prevention (31 percent).
Pulse Asia said there was “less concern” on issues such as population control (22 percent); strengthening public trust in government and its officials (21 percent); ensuring the fair trial of Corona (13 percent); and running after incumbent and former government officials accused of corruption (12 percent).
Of all the issues, the administration’s efforts at fighting crime and enforcing the law got the highest approval rating of 45 for both issues (57 percent approval, 12 percent disapproval).
Peace and order
The administration also fared well in promoting peace in the country, obtaining a net approval rating of 38 (52 percent approval and 14 percent disapproval).
Pulse Asia said the performance ratings of the administration on these three issues, along with fighting corruption, remained constant between November 2011 and March 2012.
The administration’s efforts at environmental protection earned a net approval rating of 27 (46 approval, 19 percent disapproval).
Pulse Asia said a big plurality of Filipinos (42 percent) were undecided whether they approved or disapproved of the administration’s efforts at controlling population.
Among the significant changes in the overall performance ratings of the administration between November and March were the seven-point decline in the approval ratings on job creation and population control.
Indecision among Filipinos in rating these areas, including strengthening public trust, has also become more pronounced with an increase of 7 to 9 percentage points, according to Pulse Asia.
The noncommissioned survey has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points for national estimates and plus-or-minus 6 percentage points for subnational estimates, both at the 95 percent confidence level. Reports from Inquirer Research and Christine O. Avendaño