‘Honeymoon over, but love still there’ | Headlines, News, The Philippine Star

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Government to work harder, remains steadfast in drug war

MANILA, Philippines — The honeymoon may be over but the love is still there, Malacañang said yesterday, as it shrugged off a sharp drop in President Duterte’s satisfaction and trust ratings.

“These things usually happen. This is traditionally happening after a year, a year and a half, and you know, the love is still there,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said, referring to results of the third quarter Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showing the President’s net satisfaction rating going down to +48 from +66 in June and his trust rating to +60 from +75.

The President’s chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo said the killing of teenagers suspected of involvement in drugs may have contributed to the sharp drop in Duterte’s satisfaction and trust ratings.

Abella said the lower ratings are expected, “given the fact that people start measuring their expectations usually after the honeymoon period, or after a year in office.”

He said surveys are “snapshots of the public mood at a given time.”

“But given the trust and confidence of a large majority, the administration will continue to work harder to address the public’s urgent needs in order to bring a comfortable life for all,” he added.

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Abella also hit critics for claiming that the public is now seeing the President’s supposed incompetence and defects.

“I think we need to understand that the President is playing actually a long game. In other words, he’s not running short term, trying to be popular like some other personalities out there who are so concerned about their ratings,” Abella said.

He maintained the result of the poll was not very surprising as it was conducted a few days after the Sept. 21 National Day of Protest, which allowed the public to express their sentiments against the government.

“I’m sure there was a full spectrum of emotions out there, and some of these could have spilled over,” Abella said.

“There was a dip, and that’s to be appreciated. That’s certainly a challenge to the government in order to be able to deliver the full range, the full spectrum of public services,” he added.

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the survey would serve as a guide for the government to improve its delivery of services to the public.

“This will guide the administration as it focuses on its work and implements reforms aimed at reducing poverty. Of course, we can use it as a barometer to determine the next steps of the administration,” Andanar said on radio station dzRH.

“It will serve as a lighthouse that can guide everyone in the government. We also encourage constructive criticism, because it is the only way for us in government to focus on our job,” he added.

Andanar said he is optimistic Duterte’s ratings would improve in the coming months.

“We will study the survey. We will go to the details of it to see what went wrong and how we can improve it,” he told radio station dwFM in a separate interview.

“It is really what the present administration is all about, it’s about moving forward, determine what mistakes were committed, make adjustment and move forward and we are very positive in the coming months, the satisfaction and trust rating of the President will go up,” he added.

Teen killings

Panelo said the much-publicized police killing of teenagers, especially Kian delos Santos, may have been the main reason for the dip in Duterte’s popularity.

“The drop in the survey ratings of President Duterte is attributable to the killing of minor Kian delos Santos and two others, which was perceived to have been the result of police abuse, hence it is not a surprise,” Panelo said in a statement.

“Various sectors of society, including the President, were outraged by what they perceived to be an unjustified killing by police officers. The latest survey is a reflection of that sentiment,” he added.

But Panelo stressed Duterte was unfazed by the latest SWS survey results.

“The President is unperturbed by the drop in his satisfaction rating. He has repeatedly said that he is not in a popularity contest. He remains steadfast in his war on drugs and will not be distracted by any resulting negative survey,” he added.

Delos Santos, 17, was killed in a drug raid in Caloocan last August. Policemen claimed that he was a drug courier who resisted arrest but witnesses said he was executed.

The deaths of 19-year-old Carl Arnaiz and his 14-year-old friend Reynaldo de Guzman also stirred outage and raised questions on the way policemen dealt with drug suspects.

At the House of Representatives, senior administration lawmaker Rep. Karlo Nograles of Davao City said the drop in President Duterte’s ratings should not be a cause for concern as he opined critics were just making a mountain out of a molehill.

“I think we shouldn’t be worried because if we break down the SWS survey results, putting it in context and considering the satisfaction and trust ratings of previous presidents in previous administrations, President Duterte is still doing very well,” he said.

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