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Keeping the promises

More often than not, the results of opinion surveys of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) and Pulse Asia validate each other. But in the latest quarter survey results of the SWS and the Pulse Asia, a very wide gap on the approval rating of President Rodrigo Duterte caused quite a stir, especially among his rabid supporters. It would be pointless to belabor the matter as the two professional pollster firms really are mutually exclusive of each other.

There is another way to look at the divergent results for the same survey period of the SWS and Pulse Asia on a less controversial note. In particular, the country’s top three elected government officials got more than favorable indication of performance in their respective offices. Of course, they are President Duterte, Senate president Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

All three come from the same political organization – Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) – the party now in power in the country. President Duterte is the party chairman, with Pimentel as president and Alvarez its secretary-general.

The PDP-Laban got another boost when no less than former president and now Pampanga Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her former Agriculture Secretary and current Bohol Rep. Arthur Yap joined the ruling party.

The latest quarterly SWS opinion poll results show the satisfaction ratings of President Duterte at 67 percent and Pimentel at 60 percent, and +48 and +46, respectively, for their net satisfaction ratings. But the Pulse Asia survey shows that the approval rating of President Duterte is at 80 percent, with the Senate president at 55 percent.

Actually, Alvarez trailed behind, with a 34 percent satisfaction rating in the SWS poll and 33 percent approval. Yet, the numbers tell us that the rating of Alvarez is not really as bad as it looks. That’s because the large undecided in both polls that ranged from almost 30 percent of the respondents in the SWS and nearly 50 percent in the Pulse Asia survey.

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What could be the reason? The likely factor could be the political noises centered at the Lower House during the survey period. These high-profile controversies involved impeachment complaints filed one after the other against  Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista and Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno. 

Unfortunately, these issues have overshadowed unfairly the solid performance of the entire House of Representatives in general. Reading through the accomplishment report submitted by Alvarez from the first to the second regular sessions of the 17th Congress, the House approved a total of 428 measures, the bulk of which are bills of national application within 130 session days held from July 25, 2016 up to Oct. 4, 2017, or an average of 14 measures processed per session day.

In fact, just before the House adjourned on Oct. 14, it passed many significant bills such as the “Magna Carta of the Poor,” “Universal Health Coverage For Filipinos,” “Instituting Policies For The Protection And Welfare Of Caregivers,” and the “Medical Scholarship and Return Service Program,” among others.

A number of these Lower House-passed bills – including free tuition, free Wi-Fi in public places, and extension of the validity of passports and driver’s licenses – were already signed into law by President Duterte in August of this year. Another major priority bill is the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN). That’s not to mention the speedy House approval of the proposed 2018 budget bill. Both TRAIN and the 2018 budget bills are currently under deliberations at the Senate.

What is even more laudable is that Alvarez reversed the image of the House as a chamber notorious for absenteeism into a body observing punctuality and working as they ought to do. The transformation became evident when the House leadership strictly enforced its new rule to close the door once the session starts checking attendance.

Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza, who perennially questions House quorum before, has no more reason to stand up on this score.

Taking up the cudgel for his colleagues, Isabela Rep. Rodito Albano rued the recent survey results, “do not reflect everything the House has done under the able leadership of Speaker Alvarez.” Other House leaders expressed the same confidence to Alvarez to get better ratings in future surveys whom they all credited for the improved performance of the chamber. They also noted that Alvarez has the guts to do what is right even at the risk of being unpopular.

“That’s what Speaker Alvarez has shown. Strong leaders make unpopular decisions and policies not to be popular, but to deliver what is good and just,” said Surigao del Norte Rep. Joseph Ace Barbers who chairs the House committee on illegal drugs and public order.

Rep. Cesar Sarmiento, chairman of the House committee on transportation, for his part, cited the leadership of Alvarez for making the various committees of the House experience a renewed enthusiasm to push the legislative mills for vital measures, including socio-economic bills. In the coming months, Sarmiento is confident the House can even surpass its previous accomplishments.

As officials of the ruling PDP-Laban, President Duterte, Pimentel and Alvarez are riding on the crest of the latest poll results showing high trust and satisfaction ratings of the public for their top three officials.

Now that our government forces have scored a major victory in neutralizing the leaders behind the Marawi siege – Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute – our country’s leaders must continue to act together to bring back to their feet the affected people and the strife-torn city.

Called as the “land of promise,” Mindanao has all top three officials of the land to fulfill and live up to what that part of the Philippines is known for.

The recent poll could only mean PDP-Laban is on the right track. It should now provide more impetus for the party and its leaders to work harder in delivering change that President Duterte has promised to the entire Filipino people.

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