World | Philippines

Benigno Aquino no longer Teflon president?

Philippines leader’s popularity rating plunges amid development funds scandal

  • By Barbara Mae Dacanay, Bureau Chief
  • Published: 15:21 October 29, 2013
  • Gulf News

Manila: President Benigno Aquino may be known as the Teflon president, because no criticism ever sticks on him, but a recent survey shows his popularity ratings are down due to questions about the alleged misuse of government funds.

Aquino’s popularity was positive 35 per cent, based on a survey commissioned by Ronald Llamas, head of the office of the Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs, said the Star, which received a copy of the survey.

The survey, conducted on 1,000 respondents, was done by a private firm, which was not identified.

Earlier, in a survey done by Pulse Asia, a private firm, from September 14 to 27, Aquino’s popularity rating was positive 79 per cent.

In a survey done by Social Weather Stations, from September 20 to 23, Aquino’s approval rating was positive 44 per cent. In a SWS survey conducted last June, Aquino’s rating was positive 64 per cent.

A comparison between the surveys done by Pulse Asia and the one commissioned by the executive office shows Aquino’s popularity rating has gone down by 44 per cent, said the Star.

It added that comparing the surveys done by the Social Weather Stations and the executive office shows Aquino’s popularity rating went down by 14 per cent.

Senator Jinggoy Estrada said earlier that he received P50 million (Dh4.2 million) in additional development funds in October last year, five months after a Senate majority voted to impeach former Supreme Court Justice Renato Corona. He was accused of not disclosing his dollar bank account in his statement of assets and liabilities.

Senators are allocated P200 million each from the Priority Development Assistance Fund every year.

The additional funds given to them came from the executive office, which placed the savings of line agencies into one programme that Aquino established in 2011.

Fourteen critics questioned Aquino’s power to realign funds and to spend savings of line agencies without a guideline or approval from Congress, which is a legal requirement.

Further, former chief justice Corona allegedly did not find favour with the president because he was an alleged midnight appointment of former President Gloria Arroyo.

Corona also led the Supreme Court when it ruled that 4,000 hectares of land at the Hacienda Luisita, the sugar plantation owned by the family of former President Corazon Aquino in central Luzon, should be distributed to 6,000 farmers.

Last week, explaining why he is not corrupt, Aquino told members of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines that he has a good working ethic, consistency of character, and is used to live a simple life.

“How do I do the consistent performance of an ethical behaviour? Well, first of all, I guess I really have to give credit to both my parents who actually formed the ideology that I follow,” Aquino said.

“We were always taught to have simple lives. We were taught to be very disciplined at a very young age and I guess it helps that I went to an institution (Ateneo de Manila University) during martial law years … that also … taught (us) that to resist — or to effectively resist an oppressive structure (of former President Ferdinand Marcos) — you have to live a simple life,” Aquino said.

“At the end of the day, if there is one thing that I can find myself with a relation with our people is consistency and always seeking to tell the truth at all times. It may be an unpopular truth but I guess I think I have been very consistent since even before entering public light, to stand by what I say and also to do what I say,” said Aquino.

Despite being criticised for his style of governance in the 80s, United States President Ronald Reagan remained popular and was dubbed as the Teflon president.

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