Whenever a sitting president is perceived as corrupt to the core, the outrage, by the public, is untrammeled and immediate.   People know how to handle such corrupt public officials—defenestration.  Throw the rascals out of the window. 

During President Duterte’s Talk to the People on Monday, Oct. 4, 2021, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque crowed about the net satisfaction ratings of the chief executive barely a year before his leaving office.

Unprecedented ratings

Roque reported to the President and the cabinet that Social Weather Stations surveys showed Duterte with a net satisfaction rating of +79% in November 2020, +65% in May 2021, and +62% in June 2021.

“Despite +62 being lower than +72, it (+72) is still very good and unprecedented for any president,” the presidential spokesman gushed, as the cabinet broke into a polite half-hearted applause.

Roque recalled the net satisfaction ratings of past presidents about a year before they left office: Corazon Aquino +24% in March 1995, Fidel V. Ramos +49 in June 1997, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo -31 in June 2009, and Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III, +30% in June 2015.  

Roque said he did not include Joseph Estrada (1998-2000) because he did not complete his six-year term, having served as president for only 30 months, before he was ousted—for corruption.

Per SWS, Duterte has the highest satisfaction rating among presidents leaving office with a year to go. That’s true — in absolute numbers.

 How to interpret the data

The proper way to interpret that +62% satisfaction rating of Duterte as of June 2021 is to check his satisfaction rating about six months before that—the +79% of November 2020.  Subtract 62 from 79, that’s a drop of 17 percentage points, or a steep decline of 21.5%.   Assuming there are 50 million adult Filipinos or voters, a 17-percentage-point drop is equivalent to 8.5 million adults or voters suddenly dissatisfied with you. That’s a disturbingly large number.

Note that also in November 2020, a separate survey by rival Pulse Asia gave Duterte a job approval rating of 91%.  That’s the highest job approval rating of any ruler in world history, in fact, in the history of man and the animal kingdom.  Kings, emperors, pharaohs, popes, dictators and strongmen, including Jesus, the King of Kings, never enjoyed a 91% job approval or trust ratings at the height of their power.

So a drop of from 91% to 62% is a loss of trust or public satisfaction of 32% (one of every three Duterte believers).

Abandoned by followers

A drop from 79 to 62 is a loss of 17 percentage points or 21.5%.  In effect, one of every five of Duterte’s potential voters abandoned him.

Such massive declines in job satisfaction or public approval of a president’s performance are unprecedented

Only Joseph Estrada before Duterte suffered a huge erosion in public satisfaction ratings in his performance as president.   Erap, also a populist like Duterte, went down from +65% satisfaction in June ‘99 to +9 by Dec 2000, and from +19 in September 2000, to +9 in December 2000, a 52% drop.  The veteran actor turned politician lost half of his total support by the time he was ousted in January 2001—for corruption.

Corruption always brings down presidents, not human rights violations, not incompetence, not womanizing.

Senate hearings on corruption

When Pulse Asia conducted its survey Sept. 6-11, 2021, Richard Gordon’s Senate Blue Ribbon Committee had conducted seven hearings on anomalies in government’s purchases of P12 billion worth of face masks, face shields, and PPEs from an unknown, undercapitalized and small company called Pharmally. 

The company had no personnel, no capital, no financial standing, no product, no factory, no warehouses, no delivery trucks, no tract record, no-nothing, not even a decent office (except an email address), but the backing of an alien presidential economic adviser of Duterte.

The lesson: People angry at corruption

The lesson: Whenever a sitting president is perceived as corrupt to the core, the outrage, by the public, is untrammeled and immediate.   They know how to handle such corrupt public officials—defenestration.  Throw them out of the window.  Throw them out of office.  Do not let them run again for the top offices.

No wonder President Duterte lost his enviable slot as the No. 1 choice of the people for vice president if elections were held in September 2021, when Pulse Asia conducted its survey on people’s choices for president, vice president and senators.

In June 2021, per Pulse Asia, President Duterte was the unrivalled leader in the vice presidential race, with 18%, or one of every five voters, going to vote for him.

By September 2021, Duterte had just 14% (one out of every seven voters) and was dislodged, by Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto who garnered 25% (one of every four voters).   

Sotto improved from 10% or No. 3 choice to 25% or No. 1.   Duterte lost four percentage points, equivalent to two million votes (assuming there are 50 million voters) while Sotto gained  15 percentage points, equivalent to 7.5 million votes, a huge surge in popularity.

Duterte retires

On Oct. 4, Duterte reiterated his desire to quit running for vice president.  He first disclosed his decision to retire from politics on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, “respecting the will of the people who after all placed me in the presidency several years ago.”

On television and before his cabinet Monday night, Duterte read a prepared statement and said:

“I withdraw my vice presidential bid for next year’s election after giving serious thought on the sentiment of the Filipino people expressed by different surveys, forums, caucuses, and meetings.  It is time to give way to a new set of leaders who hopefully will continue the reforms, projects, and programs that this administration has pursued for the past few years.  It is my hope that the new set of leaders will pursue a platform of government that will build on our gains in the areas of fighting illegal drugs, criminality, corruption, terrorism, and insurgency.” 

“I likewise hope that they will continue what we have begun in the terms of infrastructure development and the many other initiatives we have undertaken during my term,” Duterte said. He then endorsed the VP candidacy of Senator Bong Go.  Duterte said his long-time personal assistant  “is the best person to help the next president continue my legacy and build on the gains that we have achieved, especially in terms of providing basic services to healthcare, education, and other social services for the people.”