Duterte’s Determined Direction

The Social Weather Station (SWS) results reported by GMA Network yesterday show that three out of four people believe that President Duterte is a better president than his predecessor, former President Noynoy Aquino.

The statistics born out of surveys done several times prior to release show it to be a sustained trend well into the second year of his presidency, despite unprecedented political noise and brickbats his detractors hope will dilute support for him.

It also shows that no matter how popular Aquino may have been toward the end of his term, Duterte may very well be more popular, trusted and supported.

Seeking to know why this is so, we stumble upon the corollary set of questions accompanying the survey:

In response to whether or not Duterte is taking the country to the right direction, four out of five consistently say that this is so. 

This statistic cuts among classes, age groups, and is understandably highest among the young and in Mindanao.

The responses to this question provide both an answer and an insight to explain the large variance between how people view the two presidents.

They show an enduring support base that believes in him despite all the negative news we read in our daily news feeds, and the bricks thrown at him. 

This base is vital to sustain reforms like the otherwise difficult yet necessary tax reforms, free public education, Jeepney modernization, massive infrastructure development and other vital measures to jumpstart an inclusive economy that our economic managers hope will cut poverty to its lowest levels by 2022.

The survey debunks long-held presuppositions and cements the fear among his detractors that nothing they can say or do will dent his popularity. 

Worse, it may mean that all the insults thrown at the President may have only hardened his support base, forcing them to dig their heels in their support for him and his tough measures.

As the new year begins, previous forecasts of better things are becoming apparent, and the support base may even broaden.

Photo: President Duterte greets Indonesian Foreign Affairs officials who joined Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi as they paid a courtesy call on him at the Presidential Guest House in Panacan, Davao City on January 3, 2018. KARL NORMAN ALONZO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO