MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte retained a high public approval rating in an opinion poll released on Friday, a stark contrast to a different survey earlier this week that showed a sharp decline in trust and satisfaction in the maverick leader.
Eighty percent of 1,200 Filipinos surveyed by pollster Pulse Asia late last month said they trust and approve of Duterte slightly down from 81 percent and 82 percent respectively in its June survey.
“Approval” rates the president’s performance and “trust” relates to his personality in the Pulse survey, which did not ask respondents to give a reason.
A poll by Social Weather Stations conducted at the same time and released on Sunday showed trust and satisfaction in Duterte – also ratings of personality and performance – fell to the lowest of his presidency.
That poll showed he remained popular, but the falls by 15 points and 18 points respectively were significant, and came after a demonstration by thousands of Filipinos and unprecedented public scrutiny on his war on drugs, triggered by the Aug. 16 killing by police of a teenager.
Since Duterte took office 15 months ago, more than 3,900 people were killed in anti-narcotics operations. Police said the victims were armed and put up violent resistance in each of those cases, and reject rights groups’ allegations they are executing suspected drug users and dealers.
Duterte this week ordered police to stand down from the campaign, which his office said was to shift focus towards bigger targets in operations by the drugs enforcement agency. Duterte has not said what influenced his decision.
Analysts were unable to explain why there was such a big difference in the results of the surveys by two well-respected pollsters.
Academic Edmund Tayao said the Pulse poll showed the public still recognized the importance of the war on drugs, and Duterte would stick to his policy agenda.
“The president’s tone does not change, regardless of the numbers,” Tayao said. “Whether these surveys will result in major changes to his policy, I think not.”
Ranjit Rye of the University of the Philippines said the latest poll showed that, despite recent setbacks and adverse headlines, Duterte had not lost his appeal.
“Despite all the political noise, all the opposition against the president, he continues to be wildly popular and people approve of his leadership,” Rye told news channel ANC.
Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Martin Petty & Simon Cameron-Moore