Honeymoon period over? Satisfaction with Marcos, Sara down

MANILA, Philippines — With its active guerrilla fronts dismantled, the New People’s Army (NPA) is “strategically defeated” and its remaining armed members across the country are now on the run, according to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“The underground movement is no longer capable of implementing programs that will enable it to recruit new members, generate resources and establish a united front to overthrow the government,” AFP spokesman Col. Medel Aguilar told The STAR yesterday.

The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), whose political arm is the Na tional Democratic Front (NDF).

Aguilar said the developmen t should convince remaining NPA guerrillas to lay down their arms and return to the fold of the law.

The AFP earlier announced the elimination of active NPA guerrilla fronts in the country as a result of the military’s “focused military operations.”

“As of December, there are no more active CTG guerrilla fronts. The continued focused military operations have resulted in the neutralization of 67 high-value individuals who belong to communist and local terrorist groups,” AFP public affairs office chief Col. Xerxes Trinidad said.

He said the military dismantled eight NPA guerrilla fronts last year and weakened 14 others.

Military operations, he added, led to the neutralization of 1,399 members of communist and local terrorist groups as well as to the seizure and recovery of 1,751 firearms.

“Yes, they are weak, scattered and on the run. Indeed, it’s time for the CPP-NPA-NDF to end armed struggle as expressed in the Joint Oslo Communiqué,” Aguilar maintained, referring to a joint statement signed in the Norwegian capital by the Philippine government and the NDF wherein the two parties agree on a “principled a nd peaceful resolution of the armed conflict” by addressing its roots.

“To save lives, especially the hungry and exhausted NPA members, it should have the moral courage to do it,” Aguilar added.

MANILA, Philippines — Debates, for or against Charter change, are the friction necessary to polish the 1987 Constitution for it to become a gem that will finally pave the way for the Philippines to reach first-world status in the near future, lawmakers said.

“Let the free market of ideas prevail and intelligent discussions flourish – all for the good of the people – both now and the years to come,” Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said, as he supported a call of Speaker Martin Romualdez to push for Charter amendments.

Aside fr om Barbers, other key House leaders have joined the move, among them Senior Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales Jr., House committee on constitutional amendments chair Rufus Rodriguez and Reps. LRay Villafuerte and Stella Quimbo.

Barbers, chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs, said it is ironic that people have always been opposed to Charter change every time the issue is raised, even if they don’t know what is at stake yet, other than the oft-repeated term extensions of elected public officials.

“The knee-jerk reaction is unfair and uncalled for. We haven’t started anything and they’re shooting it down,” Barbers said in English and Filipino.

“Many provisions were inadvertently left unedited like the structure of the legislature, unicameral or bi-cameral (that’s why there are) conflicting provisions. This is proof that it was passed in haste, thus we need to correct to give it consistency,” he said.

Barbers was probably referring to the two opposing schools of thought among lawyers, wherein the recurring question is: Should changes in the Constitution be undertaken by both houses of Congress, or not?

Senators and congressmen’s view are locked on this issue, with senators insisting voting should be done separately since bringing them into the bigger chamber of the House will only dilute their vote, considering that they are only 24, compared to the more than 300 congressmen.

Quimbo, who represents the second district of Marikina, stressed the need to lift prohibitive provisions in the Constitution, which she says have left Manila as the laggard among its nearest neighbors in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

“As our economy moves forward in 2024 and beyond, there is a growing consensus that reforms are needed in various areas to improve the state of our nation and to uplift the lives of the Filipino people,” she said.

“The bottom line is we need to send a certain and predictable signal to the global investor community: The Philippines is ready, able and willing to accept foreign direct investments,” Quimbo, a former commissioner of the Philippine Competition Commission, said.

Supporters say the House-initiated Charter change complements President Marcos’ “Bagong Pilipinas” theme, which needs a new charter that should replace the 36-year-old Constitution, since it was crafted during the turbulent years after the first Marcos administration.

Gonzales protected Marcos from speculations that he may have something to do with the statement given by the Speaker that this move to amend the 1987 Constitution had his blessings.

“This is a legislative work and that’s a different body, that’s the Executive department. I think the Legislative will be the one to initiate this,” he said.

Gonzales, who resigned from the once ruling PDP-Laban party and joined the Lakas-CMD party of Romualdez after he named former president Rodrigo Duterte as the one who has been vilifying the House, said the objective is to have a new charter.

“So, that’s our objective: Bagong Konstitusyon ng Bagong Pilipinas. How can we work in a new environment under a new Philippines when its constitution is still or remains old?” Gonzales said.

He said the target timeline of the new charter change move is to be able to present it to Marcos before he delivers his third State of the Nation Address on July 22, just a year before the midterm and senatorial elections in May 2025.

“I think we can get the target, I think before the SONA if ever. I think we can get it with the coordination with other congressmen and members of the Upper House. So we’ll try to pursue it (Cha-cha) next year, we will tackle the amendments to the Constitution,” Gonzales said.

MANILA, Philippines — Rep. Erwin Tulfo of ACT-CIS party-list and Sen. Bong Go are still the most preferred among potential candidates for the Senate in the 2025 midterm elections, a recent survey conducted by the OCTA Research group showed.

The Dec. 10 to 14 survey, conducted less than a year before the filing of the certificate of candidacy in October, showed that 76 percent of respondents would likely vote for Tulfo if elections were held during the polling period.

Tulfo, a former media personality, is the brother of Sen. Raffy Tulfo, who ranked third in the 2022 polls.

He was initially appointed by President Marcos as social welfare secretary, but he was not reappointed after he was bypassed by the Commission on Appointments twice.

He later joined Congress as a replacement nominee for ACT-CIS.

Meanwhile, some 53 percent said they would vote for Go, aide of former president Rodrigo Du terte, who is eligible to run for a second term.

In a statement, Go thanked Filipinos who continue to support him.

“My focus right now is to help and serve the poor and the needy,” he said.

“I will not waste this trust given to me,” he added.

Go noted that his consistent and strong placement in election surveys is a result of his hard work and sincerity.

Tulfo and Go were followed by former Senate president Vicente Sotto III (48 percent), Sen. Ronald dela Rosa (47 percent), Sen. Imee Marcos (42 percent), Sen. Bong Revilla (35 percent), Sen. Francis Tolentino (33 percent), former Manila mayor Isko Moreno (32 percent), former senator Panfilo Lacson (32 percent), Sen. Pia Cayetano (30 percent), former senator Manny Pacquiao (26 percent) and former vice president Jejomar Binay (25 percent).

Meanwhile, outside the so-called “Magic 12” but within statistical chances of winning was Sen. Lito Lapid (20 percent).

Like Go, also eligible to run for a second term are Marcos, Dela Rosa, Cayetano, Revilla, Tolentino and Lapid.

Trailing them are Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. (19 percent), former senator Gregorio Honasan II (18 percent), Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos (18 percent), television host Willie Revillame (18 percent), doctor Willie Ong (17 percent) and former vice president Leni Robredo (17 percent).

They were followed by former senator Francis Pangilinan (17 percent), former senator and Batangas Rep. Ralph Recto (15 percent), former senator and interior secretary Mar Roxas (15 percent), former senator Richard Gordon (14 percent), Davao Rep. Paolo Duterte (14 percent), former senator Bam Aquino (12 percent), former Quezon City mayor Herbert Bautista (12 percent), former Senate president Franklin Drilon (12 percent) and former vice president Noli de Castro (12 percent).

Other names on the list were Ormoc Mayor Richard Gomez, former senator Sonny Trillanes, Makati Mayor Abby Binay, former party-list representative Neri Colmenares, former presidential spokesman Harry Roque, lawyer Chel Diokno, former party-list representative Mike Defensor and former senator Leila de Lima.

Former president Duterte was not among those on the list of potential senatorial candidates.

MANILA, Philippines — Even though they still enjoy the approval of the majority, satisfaction with President Marcos and Vice President Sara Duterte dropped by double digits in several polls conducted last year.

A year into the new administration, which was elected by a landslide in the 2022 elections, Filipinos are also largely dissatisfied with the government’s performance in addressing the rising cost of basic commodities.

In a span of one year, Marcos’ performance rating decreased by 13 points, from 78 percent in October 2022 to 65 percent in October 2023, based on the quarterly “Tugon ng Masa” survey conducted by OCTA Research.

Marcos’ performance rating slightly went up to 80 percent in March, before dropping to 71 percent in July and 65 percent in October.

Comparing the October 2022 and October 2023 surveys, Marcos’ approval went down significantly across areas, with a drop of 26 percentage points among respondents in Mindanao (from 85 percent to 59 percent).

Duterte, meanwhile, suffered a 10-point drop in her performance rating, from 80 percent in October 2022 to 70 percent in October 2023. It went up to as high as 84 percent in March.

As of October 2023, the Vice President’s lowest approval ratings were among respondents from balance Luzon and Metro Manila at 62 percent and 63 percent, respectively (down from 71 percent and 79 percent, respectively, in the October 2022 survey).

The same is true with Pulse Asia’s “Ulat ng Bayan” survey, which showed Marcos’ approval rating dropping from 80 percent in June 2023 to 65 percent in September 2023.

Duterte’s approval rating, meanwhile, dropped from 84 percent to 73 percent.

In terms of trust, Marcos suffered a 14-point decrease from 85 percent to 71 percent. Duterte’s trust rating dropped from 87 percent to 75 percent.

Polling firm Social Weather Stations (SWS) had yet to release its survey results on public satisfaction with government officials as of late last year.

The most recent available survey, conducted in December 2022, showed that 75 percent of respondents were satisfied with Marcos.

Various polls also showed that inflation remains the most urgent concern among Filipinos.

Throughout the year, the Marcos administration consistently received low approval score for its efforts to address the rising cost of basic commodities.

Based on OCTA surveys, satisfaction with the government in managing inflation went down from 35 percent in March to just 14 percent in October.

Meanwhile, dissatisfaction increased from 36 percent to 64 percent.

Out of the 24 issues included in the latest survey, the government received approval of less than a majority on eight issues, up from just two issues in the March survey.

These included reducing poverty and hunger, fighting graft and corruption, reducing the amount of taxes, controlling population growth, stopping illegal drugs and ensuring food security.

Providing quality basic and tertiary education and building public infrastructure obtained the highest approval ratings among the selected issues, although these also went down by around 10 points compared to the March survey.

Meanwhile, the September 2023 survey conducted by Pulse Asia showed 74 percent of the respondents identifying inflation as among their most urgent national concern, up 11 points from 63 percent in June 2023.

It was followed by increasing the pay of workers, creating more jobs, reducing poverty and fighting graft and corruption.

For respondents of the OCTA surveys, more Filipinos still think that the country is headed in the right direction, although the most recent survey showed a decreasing trend.

From 72 percent in July 2023, only 62 percent said that the country is headed in the right direction in the October 2023 survey. It was 76 percent in March 2023 and 85 percent in October 2022.

Those who think the country is headed in the wrong direction increased from six percent in October 2022 to 20 percent in October 2023.

Still, personal optimism remains high.

The latest SWS survey, conducted from Sept. 28 to Oct. 1, showed that 48 percent of the respondents expect a better quality of life within a year, almost similar to the 46 percent obtained in a similar survey conducted in June 2023.

The number of those who expect their lives to worsen in the next 12 months was only six percent, from five percent in the previous survey.

Some 40 percent said it would stay the same, down from 44 percent.

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