Church maintains highest trust rating – survey

The Department of Education (DepEd), Pag-Ibig, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) were the most trusted government agencies while food, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, telcos, and water and sanitation were the most trusted business sectors, with the church maintaining its high rating, according to the latest Philippine Trust Index (PTI).

First Martyrs of the Church (Image from Catholic online)

The PTI 2021, which is conducted by the EON Group, seeks to measure how the pandemic has magnified the importance of trust and causes of change in perception and level of trust.

The 2021 PTI, titled RISE & RESPOND: Trust Rewards the Agile and the Future-Ready, reveals that the trust level for the business sector declined while the other five institutions were able to maintain or even increase public trust in them from 2019. Four of them, notably the Church, the Academe, the Media, and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), saw a rise in trust. NGOs, in particular, saw the highest gain, nearly doubling its 2019 trust rating this year. The government's level of trust, however, has remained constant since 2019.

In the government, the PTI 2021 showed that DepEd has 91 percent trust rating while Pag-Ibig has 89 percent, DSWD got 88 percent, and GSIS and BSP tied at 87 percent.

On the other hand, the least trusted government agencies were the Ombudsman, Senate, Office of Vice-President, Department of Budget and Management, Presidential Communications Operations Office, and Department of Finance.

According to the PTI, government agencies and institutions that earned the highest marks have functions that required them to remain engaged with the public during the pandemic , such as online learning, finance regulation, loan assistance, and aid distribution. Issues in the management of public funds and messaging credibility, meanwhile, placed certain agencies in the least trusted list.

The drivers of trust in government include the ability to help address the poor in their basic needs such as housing, food and education. Government agencies were also ranked in their role in improving the domestic economy, and in protecting the country’s territory.

Overall, trust in government has maintained its 2019 level despite the pandemic. However, when viewed from different generations, it showed that it has a very low trust rating among millennials. Government also continued to receive lowest trust score from the Visayas.

In business, the top four sectors - food, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, telcos, and water and sanitation -maintained their 2019 ranking in this year’s survey. The least trusted business sectors though were real estate and construction, advertising and public relations, alcohol and tobacco, insurance, and mining.

The PTI noted that sectors whose products and services have been necessary during the pandemic received the biggest increase in trust. Most industries also saw improved ratings.

Trust in the church has remained high since 2017. The institution rates the highest among Baby Boomers and North/Central Luzon residents although its trust levels in South Luzon and Mindanao decreased.

Trust drivers in the church include integrity and for espousing honesty, and providing a full accounting of its funds and resources it has received from its flock.

Respondents to the survey also indicated of the church ability to maintain its separation from the state or being perceived as not meddling in the affairs of the government and politicians.

Meantime, trust in the academe has been maintained since 2019. For 2021, the academe earned a full trust from Baby Boomers, but saw a downtrend in trust level among Metro Manila and South Luzon residents.

For media, the PTI showed that trust in this institution has increased since 2019 although it has yet to reach its 2017 rating. This institution earned its highest trust ratings from Gen Xers and got its highest boost from the Visayas.

EON has been producing the PTI biannually in the past decade. For this year, it conducted a nationwide survey among 800 respondents from August to September 2021 and listened in on online conversations held between August 2020 and August 2021 to get a picture of the country’s landscape from the perspective of both the people on the ground and those who join discussions online.