Public trust in Senate tumbles in June

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Monday, August 4, 2014

MANILA -- Fewer Filipinos have expressed trust in the Senate following the arrest and detention of Senators Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. and Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada over the pork barrel scam, a survey released Monday by independent pollster Pulse Asia showed.

The Senate's trust rating settled at 31 percent in June, down 11 points from last December's 42 percent.

Specifically, the Senate's trust rating during the six-month period dipped by 14 points in the Visayas, 15 points in Mindanao and around 15 to 18 points in Classes ABC and E.

Its approval score plunged to 33 percent from 41 percent in March while its disapproval rating went up by nine points.

Appreciation for the Senate’s work significantly declined in Metro Manila (-14 points), Mindanao (-15 points) and socioeconomic classes ABC and D (-9 to -19 points). In Mindanao, ambivalence toward the Senate’s performance increased by 13 points, from 29 percent in March to 42 percent in June.

The Senate has been walking in a difficult path since last year after some legislators, including Revilla, Estrada and Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, were accused of taking multi-million peso kickbacks from alleged ghost projects charged to their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocation.

Describing them as "intense public beatings," Senate President Franklin Drilon acknowledged in last week's session opener that the "intrigues" and "arrows of insults" may have sullied the Senate's reputation in the minds of the public.

"I recognize that as public servants we must remain receptive to and tolerant of criticism. But should we as individuals and as a collegial body allow the Senate to continue to be casually scorned?" asked Drilon.

He then encouraged his colleagues to rally behind the institution and set aside political differences to give way to the passage of important bills that would stimulate the economy, generate jobs and strengthen the fight against graft and corruption in government.

The survey was taken from June 24 to July 2 or at a time when Revilla and Estrada surrendered to the police after the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan ordered them arrested for plunder and graft. The Sandiganbayan entered a not guilty plea on behalf of Revilla and Estrada.

It was also during this period when the Supreme Court (SC) came out with a unanimous decision that declared key parts of the administration's Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as unconstitutional amid allegations that it was used to bribe senators who ousted then Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012.

The SC and the House of the Representatives were the other government institutions rated in the survey involving 1,200 adult Filipinos.

The SC notched the highest approval and ratings (49 percent and 42 percent, respectively) while the House received 34 percent approval for its performance and 29 percent for trust, which was 10 points lower than December’s 39 percent.

Disapproval for and distrust in the two legislative bodies are more pronounced compared to the SC, Pulse Asia said. Indecision toward the work done by the three government institutions ranges from 38 percent to 44 percent.

The survey had a margin of error of ±3 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. (Sunnex)

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