Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Was there a Negative Nora Aunor Effect on President Aquino’s Approval Rating?

Note: This photo-essay appeared in a slightly different form in the 18-24 July 2014 issue of the FilAm Star, the weekly 'newspaper for Filipinos in mainstream America' published in San Francisco, CA.  This author/blogger is the Special News/Photo Correspondent of the paper in the Philippines.

A fan with a framed autographed picture of his idol.
Typhoon Glenda (Rammasun), the strongest storm so far to hit the Philippines, left Metro Manila late morning Wednesday, 16 July, with a power blackout that lasted till the first hour of Thursday.

The Glenda effect as monitored by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and other government agencies may be in the fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Benigno Simeon Cojuanco Aquino III on 28 July 2014.  After all, he met with the Council the day before the storm, and he was reported to have expressed satisfaction on the preparedness of all concerned agencies.

For sure, the SONA will highlight the controversial PDAF (the discretionary Priority Development Fund available to members of Congress), and the DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program, which the Department of Budget and Management defined as a “stimulus package under the Aquino administration designed to fast-track public spending and push economic growth”).  

On 01 July,  the Supreme Court unanimously declared key portions of the DAP unconstitutional: the creation of savings prior to the end of the fiscal year and their withdrawal for implementing agencies, the “cross-border” transfers of savings from one government branch to another, and the allotment of funds for items not found in the General Appropriations Act.

The impact of the SC decision on public opinion through the media and the social networks had President Aquino deliver a national address on Monday, 14 July, to explain his side to his constituents (mga minamahal ko pong kabababyan, ang aking mga Boss"). He said that they will file a motion for reconsideration before the high tribunal.

The presidential address drew mixed reactions but many believed that they have not felt any of the benefits that are supposed to trickle down from the DAP. The negative reaction added to the public dismay on Aquino's rejection of the resignation letter of Budget Secretary Florencio Abad during the Cabinet meeting on 12 July.

01 July was also the day Aquino explained why he rejected the nomination of Nora Aunor as National Artist for film. There was public uproar for an explanation after her exclusion from the list recommended by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) to receive the Order of National Artists award.

Although he expressed admiration for Aunor’s acting ability and her Cinderella story, he admitted that the reason was drugs:  “naconvict po sya sa drugs,” he reportedly emphasized.  Her lawyer in the United States was quick to retort that she was never convicted of a crime involving drugs in Los Angeles.  

In some way, Nora Aunor was a typhoon that hit Malacañang.

National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera & TOWNS awardee
Atty. Lorna Patajo-Kapunan go through the Supreme Court
decision on the National Artists controversy of 2009.
While she is now enjoying the overflow of support from fans and various sectors—two forums have been held in Ateneo de Manila and the University of the Philippines, for example, she appears to have contributed to the drop in the approval rating of President Aquino for the second quarter of 2014.

On the same day that he addressed the nation on the DAP controversy, Pulse Asia Research, Inc. also shared their findings on Presidential Performance and Trust Ratings from the June 2014 Ulat ng Bayan national survey. 

The Pulse Asia summary reads: “ A little over one in 10 Filipinos (14%) expresses disapproval for the work done by the President in the past three months as well as distrust in him. Presidential disapproval scores range from 7% to 18% in the different geographic locations and from 12% to 22% across socio-economic groupings. In terms of distrust figures, they vary from 9% to 17% across geographic areas and from 12% to 24% across socio-economic classes. Residents of Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon as well as those in Class ABC are most critical of President Aquino (17% to 22%) and most inclined to distrust him (17% to 24%). These figures do not differ in any significant way from those posted by President Aquino in March 2014 at the national level as well as across geographic areas and socio-economic classes.”

This is the result of survey fieldwork using face-to-face interviews from 24 June 24 to 02 July 2014. According to Pulse Asia, this was the period when the Filipinos were preoccupied with various issues most of which pertain to the PDAF and the Janet Napoles court cases. 

Pulse Asia listed 13 issues.  Item 4 is “(t)he decision issued by the Supreme Court (SC) declaring several acts under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as unconstitutional for violating the doctrine of separation of powers and the constitutional provision which prohibits the inter-branch transfer of appropriations;” and item 12 is “(t)he controversial decision of President Aquino to reject the nomination of Ms. Nora Aunor as National Artist for Film.”

Poster photo courtesy of the Nora Aunor
for National Artist Movement.
The SC decision could not have been the contributing factor since it came at the end of the survey period.  Surely, the controversial PDAF and Napoles cases were the significant influences in the negative responses of interviewees in the survey.

It is possible that there was a negative Nora Effect on the Aquino’s approval rating.

In fact, the Nora Aunor for National Artist Movement is sustaining support for her through a signature campaign. The target is one million signatures hopefully to be gathered so that she can be proclaimed in a public gathering as the “Pambansang Artista ng Mamamayan” before or after the official proclamation in Malacañang of Alice Reyes, Cirilo Bautista, Francisco Coching, Feliciano Francisco, Ramon Santos and Jose Maria Zaragoza as National Artists. 

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