by Alito L. Malinao
MANILA, July 15 (Xinhua) -- The satisfaction rating of Philippine President Benigno Aquino III suffered a big drop in two recent surveys on the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and people's disappointment over price hike and lack of new jobs.
A survey conducted by Pulse Asia, Inc. from June 24 to July 2 showed that while 56 percent of Filipinos still approved Aquino's performance, this was down 14 points from 70 percent in March, as the proportion of those who disapproved of his performance rose 6 points from 8 percent to 14 percent.
The proportion of those who expressed big trust in Aquino dropped 16 points, from 69 percent in March to 53 percent in June.
In a statement, Ana Maria Tabunda, Pulse Asia research director, said the Supreme Court's decision declaring Aquino's discretionary fund, the DAP unconstitutional came out toward the end of the survey.
Tabunda pointed the Priority Development Assistance Fund, popularly known as pork barrel, the filing of plunder and graft charges against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla and their subsequent arrests as among the main issues behind the huge decline in Aquino's ratings.
The pork barrel scam involves millions of pesos of government funds diverted to non-existent non-government organizations (NGOs) which were later siphoned to the personal accounts of unscrupulous officials.
"It is easier to do nothing. When you do something, you can polarize the people. Sympathizers [of the three senators] may have shifted to indecision," Tabunda said.
She said some people were already wondering if the president could do something to address graft and corruption.
Another survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) from June 27 to 30 showed that Aquino's net satisfaction rating fell to a "moderate" +25 last month from a "good" +45 in March.
It was the lowest since Aquino took office in 2010 and the first time that his ranking reached "moderate" levels.
The SWS noted that Aquino got a "very good" plus-60 rating three months into his administration and reached a record high of "very good" plus-67 in August 2012.
According to the SWS, Aquino's net satisfaction rating fell in all socio-economic classes.
The survey was taken amid complaints on the price hike of basic commodities and public discourse on the pork barrel scam and DAP, which was later declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
Some lawmakers said that it was not just the DAP that pulled down the president's approval rating to an all-time low. They said that the increase in the prices of basic items, few jobs created and the high poverty incidence have left people unsatisfied with the once very popular president.
Analysts here said that the peace pact that the Aquino administration signed with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) , the mainstream rebel group in Mindanao, failed to shore up Aquino's performance rating.
In fact, one analyst said, the pact could have a negative impact on the Christian population in Mindanao who fear that the Bangsamoro entity, which could impose the Sharia law, would affect their way of life and their religion.
The country's high economic growth also failed to keep the Aquino's high satisfaction rating primarily because the growth did not solve the problems of poverty and unemployment in the Philippines.
The country's gross domestic product (GDP) grew 7.2 percent last year and 5.7 percent in the first quarter of this year.
In its latest economic update on the Philippines for 2014, the World Bank projects a 6.6 percent growth for the country in 2014 and 6.9 percent in 2015.
But the World Bank also pointed out the poverty incidence in the country which barely improved from 26.3 percent in 2009 to 25. 2 in 2012 suggested that higher growth has yet to benefit many Filipinos who are poor.
"Underlying the slow progress in poverty reduction is the lack of good jobs," the World Bank said, adding that some 28 million Filipinos are informally employed with little or no protection from job losses and opportunities to find gainful employment.