AFTER A YEAR in office, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has received a resounding thumbs up from a convincing majority of voters across the country, hitting a record high in the polls.
As a bloody war on drugs and fighting against Islamic militants in Marawi City drag on, a survey conducted by local pollster Social Weather Stations found 66 percent of Filipinos were satisfied with Duterte’s performance, granting him a “very good” rating overall.
The Social Weather Survey was conducted from June 23-26, 2017 – just days before the first anniversary of his swearing-in on June 30 – using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults nationwide.
In metro Manila – the ground zero of Duterte’s drug war – his approval remained “very good” with 77 percent of respondents saying they were satisfied with his performance, compared to only 13 percent who said they were dissatisfied.
The Social Weather Survey found Duterte’s support is strong with both men and women, as well as among respondents from across the socioeconomic spectrum.
He is most popular among those who have graduated from college, who view his performance as “excellent.” Those with lower levels of education also polled solid support.
“The survey result is a clear indication of the growing confidence in the chief executive and his performance as the country’s leader,” said a spokesman for the presidential palace Ernesto Abella on Friday, as reported by state Philippine News Agency.
“The data collection concluded a month after [Duterte] placed the whole island of Mindanao under martial law shows tacit public support to the President’s action following the rebellion in Marawi,” he said.
After fighting broke out in Muslim-majority Marawi in May, Duterte declared 60 days of martial law over the entire island of Mindanao. The Supreme Court found earlier this week this was constitutionally legal, following threats from Duterte he would jail critics of martial law.
The poll shows Duterte suffered a sharp decrease in popularity in his home region of Mindanao, however, dropping 12 percentage points from 87 to 75 percent. His satisfaction rating there nevertheless remains “excellent.”
“This positive acknowledgement of the Filipino people further motivates the administration to work for the restoration of normalcy in Marawi and to start its rehabilitation as well as bring a comfortable life for all Filipinos, including Muslim Filipinos,” Abella said.
On Thursday, Human Rights Watch slammed proposals to introduce Muslim-only identification system in the country’s Central Luzon region, which authorities claim is needed to “identify and weed out undesirable individuals and terrorists.”
Experts have criticised Duterte’s focus on cracking down on drug use to the detriment of monitoring and combatting extremists in the Philippines, which they say culminated in the Marawi siege.