MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s trust ratings declined slightly in an opinion poll in the first three months this year, crimped by what political analysts call his deadly war on drugs that killed poor slum dwellers.
Seventy-six percent of 1,200 Filipinos surveyed by pollster Pulse Asia said they trusted the firebrand leader, for a drop of seven points from Dec. 2016. His first quarter performance rating of 78 percent also slipped, from 83 percent earlier.
The capital, Manila, and the biggest island of Luzon showed the largest drop in the president’s trust and performance ratings, as well as among poor respondents, said Ana Maria Tabunda, the firm’s research director.
Poll respondents who were better off gave the president a marked improvement in both performance and trust ratings, she added.
Duterte scored highest in his southern home region of Mindanao, however, Tabunda added.
“The highest ratings in the case of both his performance and trustworthiness are granted to President Duterte by those in Mindanao,” she said in a statement.
The survey, released on Wednesday, did not ask respondents to give a reason for their ratings. It was conducted in face-to-face interviews held from March 15 to 20, about a week after police resumed a bloody anti-narcotics crackdown in slum communities.
The survey was largely influenced by social, political and economic developments during the first quarter, particularly the drug war killings, said Earl Parreno, an analyst at the Institute of Political and Electoral Reform.
“People in poorer communities, where most of these killings are happening, are obviously not happy with the president’s drug war because they worry that somebody close to them would be the next victim of extrajudicial killings,” he told Reuters.
“In the same way, the good grades for the president’s trust and performance ratings were from the upper social classes, which is really a vote for approval of the drug war because they feel more secure from crime and drugs.”
Next quarter’s ratings are likely to be mainly influenced by political events, such as an expected cabinet reshuffle and economic issues, such as jobs and consumer prices, among other factors.
More than 8,000 people have been killed since Duterte took power on June 30 last year, with police taking responsibility for a third of those deaths, citing self-defence during anti-narcotics operations.
The government rejects rights groups’ allegations that police are involved in thousands of mysterious deaths.
(Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)