POSTSCRIPT / October 31, 2021 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Duterte rating down to Senate floor level

AS public dissatisfaction with President Duterte’s running of the government continued to drop going to the May 2022 national elections, his own party leaders’ estimate of his political value at the polls seems to slide to that of a senatorial wannabe.

Barred from running for any reelection, Duterte announced months ago he would run for vice president under his wing of the PDP-Laban Party to continue his programs while enjoying immunity from possible lawsuits arising from alleged corruption and human rights violations.

As the COVID-19 pandemic took its toll on the population and the fragile economy, surveys showed a steady decline in the public satisfaction rating of Duterte, registering at 67 percent in the Social Weather Stations poll conducted Sept. 12 – 16. Its results were released Friday.

While his satisfaction rating was still substantial for a President bedeviled by major challenges in the last year of his term, it showed him sliding from his 75 percent in surveys in May and in June, and his all-time high of 84 percent in November 2020.

The latest survey gave him a net satisfaction rating of +52 (the difference between those “satisfied” and those “dissatisfied”) which was considered by SWS as “very good”. It was, however, lower than the +65 and +62 net ratings he got in the May and June surveys.

Duterte’s net satisfaction rating climbed November last year to an “excellent” +79 (84 percent satisfied, six percent dissatisfied). His lowest net rating was in June 2018 at a “good” +45 (66 percent satisfied, 19 percent dissatisfied).

As Duterte’s satisfaction rating kept dropping, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, head of the pro-Duterte faction of the ruling PDP-Laban is convincing the President, who has dropped his earlier plan to vie for VP, to run for senator in the 2022 elections.

“If the President would not run for Vice President because he is firm on his decision not to go back on his word, I said why not run for the Senate so he could bring change there? That will be good for the country,” Cusi said, citing the experience of Duterte, who had been a congressman.

Duterte is being assailed in the inquiry of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chaired by Sen. Dick Gordon into allegedly irregular procurement of supplies for the administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gordon said on Twitter: “Betrayal of public trust ang ginagawa ninyo, Mr. Duterte. Bakit hindi ninyo ipagtanggol ang mahihirap? Bakit hindi ninyo pakinggan ang mga doctor, nurses, healthcare workers? Hindi po habambuhay nasa posisyon kayo.”

Duterte should heed Cusi’s suggestion so he can answer his critics right on the Senate floor?

• Labor aims for Senate seat

INCLUSION of Sonny Matula, president of the Federation of Free Workers and chair of the Nagkaisa Labor Coalition, in the senatorial slate of the opposition team led by Vice President Leni Robredo elicited the old question “Is there a labor vote?”

The Philippines boasts of a pool of qualified workers (aged 15–64) which ranks 13th largest in the world behind Vietnam, Japan, and Mexico. Filipino workers number more than 55.5 million whose voice should be loud enough to influence the course of national events.

Matula, which means “happy” in Kapampangan or “poetic” in Filipino (depending on where the accent is placed), was chosen to represent the marginalized sector. The “Alliance of Labor Leaders for Leni” which pushed his inclusion has 350,000 members. It vowed to deliver two million votes for Robredo.

Matula has been a lawyer for laborers and unionists for 20 years, served as commissioner for the labor sector of the Social Security System (2006 to 2010), and as executive director of the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission (2001 to 2002).

We asked media colleague Joe Cortez, who has long covered the labor sector, for his insights into the voting power of labor. His comments:

“Post martial law, labor leader Ernesto Herrera of Trade Union Congress of the Philippines won a Senate seat carried by the wave of approval for President Cory Aquino. So did Blas F. Ople who had served the Marcos regime as secretary/minister of labor.

“Was there a labor vote then?

“Doubtful, as organized labor was still disunited then and unorganized labor or independent labor unions and informal sector participants were still ecstatic with the triumphant EDSA People Power uprising.

“Today, the popular chairman of the Kilusang Mayo Uno, Elmer Labog, hopes to land among the 12 senators-elect come May 2022.

“However the pink campaign has chosen the chairman of the Nagkaisa (United) Labor Coalition, Sonny Matula, as its candidate from the labor sector. Matula, a lawyer, professor of law, and president of the moderate FFW used to be an SSS commissioner.

“Previously,  former firebrand Crispin Beltran of Kilusang Mayo Uno failed in his bid for a Senate seat with the Partido ng Bayan. Recently, labor union lawyers  Ernesto Arellano, also of KMU, and Alan Montano of FFW, ran and lost the race for the Senate.

“What this proved was there is no united labor vote.

“Will Labog make it to the Senate given the nationwide spread of KMU and allied organizations such as those of peasants, fishermen, teachers, youth, urban poor, call center workers, and progressive professionals? Will the workers unite and vote for their labor leaders in next year’s elections?

“Voting as one may just be the instrument for another labor leader (or leaders) to win a seat in the Senate.

“Voting as a solid bloc will give the workers the power they have aspired for, thus making them the true instruments of meaningful changes in society.”

(First published in the Philippine STAR of October 31, 2021)

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