The writing on the wall

PHILIPPINES - In Brief 20 Mar 2015 by Romeo Bernardo

President Benigno Aquino has been on the receiving end of a string of negative feedbacks lately, all arising from the botched operation to catch two terrorists in Mindanao last January. [For background story on the Mindanao operation, see Quarterly Report, Year of the Bellwether", 11 February.]

First was a report of the Board of Inquiry of the Philippine National Police last week that said that the President bypassed the chain of command, something that he had refused to acknowledge in his statements. Then came the Senate committee report early this week which also found him “ultimately responsible” and bearing responsibility for “giving assent and failing to prevent the unlawful exercise of official functions” by the then suspended police chief, his close friend.

The week also saw the release of survey results by one of the country’s leading pollsters, Pulse Asia, that showed a precipitous 20-point drop in the President’s approval and trust ratings, his lowest yet. This was followed two days later by results showing that while more (42%) Filipinos oppose calls for him to resign, 29% of the respondents – not an insignificant number in our view – in fact agreed that he should resign.

Moreover, the tragic incident may have made the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to create an autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao much more difficult. Survey results showed that nationwide, a plurality (44%) opposed its passage, with a noteworthy majorit...

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