Aquino keeps high ratings in latest poll; Drilon down
Except for Senate President Franklin Drilon, the performance ratings of top officials led by President Aquino remained “basically unchanged” last month amid the pork barrel scam, according to the results of a Pulse Asia survey released Wednesday.
Aquino got an approval rating of 79 percent in September from 73 percent in June, while his trust rating was 76 percent from 77 percent.
“Even the movement in President Aquino’s overall approval score (plus 6 percentage points) is considered marginal due to the survey’s overall
error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points,” Pulse Asia said.
It was a different story for Drilon, who got an approval rating of 50 percent last month from 62 percent in June, when he was rated based on his performance as a senator.
Drilon, who was elected Senate President only in July got a trust rating of 46 percent. (He was not among the officials whose trust rating were included in June.)
Pulse Asia said the pork barrel controversy appeared to have an adverse effect on the public’s perception of Drilon as his approval rating dropped 12 percentage points and the number of those undecided about his performance increased by 9 percentage points to 35 percent.
He shrugged off the drop in his ratings but said his decision to waive his 2013 pork barrel would help him regain people’s trust.
Drilon said he wasn’t surprised by the drop, blaming it on the “vicious media vilification campaign” against him in the past weeks.
“There was a demolition job against me by those who want to divert public attention from the real issue, which is misuse of pork barrel,” he told reporters.
His political rival, former Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco, has filed several complaints against him for plunder and graft in the Office of the Ombudsman over the alleged questionable release of his pork barrel to projects in Iloilo.
Drilon also has had to fend off charges that he had ties with pork barrel queen Janet Lim-Napoles following the circulation of their pictures together on social media.
The survey also included ratings for three government institutions—the Senate, the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court.
While the approval and trust ratings of the Supreme Court remained unchanged, the poll showed that there were significant changes in the approval and trust ratings of both the Senate and the House.
Binay, Belmonte, Sereno
Vice President Jejomar Binay’s approval and trust ratings were 77 percent (from 78 percent) and 74 percent (from 78 percent), respectively.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. got an approval rating of 37 percent, down from 38 percent. His trust rating declined to 34 percent from 38 percent.
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s approval rating rose to 42 percent from 37 percent. Her trust rating inched up 40 percent from 38 percent.
Despite his relatively low approval rating, Belmonte was not bothered by the results of the survey on the people’s satisfaction with top leaders of the government.
Belmonte said it was more important to him that the President’s rating was high. Besides, he pointed out that his own rating of 37 percent was only reduced by one percentage point.
“Mainly, people don’t know me, so no opinion. That is okay with me,” he said in a text message.
Earl Parreño of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform said that the P10-billion pork barrel scam allegedly masterminded by Napoles had no significant impact on Aquino’s performance and trust ratings because those implicated in the controversy were from the opposition.
DAP not reflected
“The President handled well the Napoles issue despite contrary views on Napoles’ surrender to him. His ratings were unchanged because the people still has doubts on his position on the pork barrel,” he said in a phone interview.
Parreño also said that the results of the survey may not have reflected yet the criticisms on the Aquino administration’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
The DAP came to light after Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, one of the three senators charged with plunder in relation with the pork barrel racket, disclosed late in September that senators who voted for the conviction of then Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012 each received P50 million as incentive.
The budget department defended the releases, saying these were part of the administration’s stimulus package designed to ramp up spending and help accelerate economic growth.
The Senate’s approval rating was 39 percent in September, down from 53 percent in June. For the House, it was 37 percent, down from 52 percent. The Supreme Court’s rating declined to 53 percent from 57 percent.
Public trust in the Senate dropped to 36 percent from 51 percent, while that of the House declined to 34 percent from 53 percent. The Supreme Court’s rating was 50 percent, down from 55 percent.
“The controversy regarding the alleged misuse of the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) of several lawmakers appears to have adversely affected public opinion regarding the performance and trustworthiness of both the Senate and the House of Representatives,” Pulse Asia said.
Drilon expressed confidence that the Senate would emerge “more credible” once the personalities involved in the scam were punished and the “innocent” were acquitted.
Regaining people’s trust
“We’re doing everything to regain the people’s trust. For instance, our decision to waive our 2013 PDAF is one way of showing to the people that we’re here to serve. This is a process to cleanse the system. No matter how tough this is, we will do it,” he said.
After an intense debate, the Senate on Tuesday night adopted a resolution waiving the use of the senators’ remaining PDAF and expressing its sense for the President to use the savings created by such action.
Senators interpellated Drilon, main author of the resolution, to question the legality of the move, in view of the Supreme Court’s temporary restraining order on the PDAF.
Drilon argued that under the Constitution, the President may be authorized to augment any item in the general appropriations law for agencies from savings.
He said that the General Appropriations Act of 2013 also authorized the President to use savings to augment deficiencies incurred this year. He also said that by doing this, the Senate was not violating the Supreme Court temporary restraining order on the PDAF.
After being assured of its legality, the senators adopted Resolution No. 14 expressing the Senate sense on the Executive Department’s realignment of unreleased PDAF.
Sen. Francis Escudero, chair of the finance committee, said some P2.4 billion in senators’ PDAF had not been released this year.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad earlier said that some P12.27 billion in the PDAF for the entire Congress remained unreleased during the second half.
Only P1.37 billion remained of the P7.5 billion calamity fund for 2013.
Pulse Asia used face-to-face interviews with 1,200 adults and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for national data and plus or minus 6 percentage points for regional data.—With a report from Leila B. Salaverria
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