The people might be sending a message

President Duterte began his administration in June, 2016, with very high ratings in the national surveys conducted every three months by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) and Pulse Asia. These survey ratings were consistent with his big election victory. As in all beginning administrations, hopes and expectations were high.

The President scored a very high rating of +79 in June, 2016. He continued to score in the seventies in succeeding surveys, except for a +60 in September, 2017, but he rebounded to +75 in December, 2017.

At the first survey this year, held last March, the President’s rating in SWS dropped to +56. Then last June, three months later, it further dropped to +45. But this latest figure (the result of 65 percent of the survey respondents satisfied with the President’s performance, minus 20 percent dissatisfied) is still deemed “good” in the assessment of the SWS.

All presidents have started with high ratings that gradually go down as the years pass. Thus this latest drop in President Duterte’s ratings should not cause us much concern. He himself said does not care if his ratings are going down. His spokesman Harry Roque pointed out that this latest rating of +45 of President Duterte is still higher than those of his three predecessors in their second year in office – President Joseph Estrada who had +5 in March, 2000, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who had +6 in November, 2002, and President Benigno Aquino III who had +42 in May, 2012.

Still administration officials might find it useful to try to determine what caused the drop in ratings for the people might be trying to send a message to their leaders. Are they perhaps expressing their fears and their concerns over the continued poverty of many people now coupled with rising prices, over so many killings not just of resisting – “nanlaban” – crime suspects but now also of mayors and vice mayors and priests, and over the vile language used in the exchange of accusations with religious officials?

Our national leaders may be doing very well in propelling our country to great economic development but they should not forget to listen to those they lead. As the great Mahatma Gandhi once said, “There goes my people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.”