Trust in US still ‘very good’ but dips; China, Russia ratings turn positive

By Ian Nicolas P. Cigaral / March 2, 2017 / Business World Online

OVERALL PUBLIC TRUST in the United States — the Philippines’ traditional ally that President Rodrigo R. Duterte has berated in his profanity-laced speeches — remained “very good” but dipped last quarter, according to a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey that also showed ratings of strategic rivals China and Russia turning around to positive territory.

The Fourth Quarter 2016 Social Weather Survey — conducted Dec. 3-6 via face-to-face interviews with 1,500 adults nationwide and with a ±3 percentage-point sampling error margin — found 70% of Filipinos having “much trust,” 19% undecided and 11% having “little trust” in the United States.

That yielded a “very good” +59 net trust in the US, down seven points from September 2016’s “very good” +66 and the lowest in over six years since March 2010’s “good” +35.

The SWS noted that the US’ net trust rating has been positive since the pollster first surveyed it in December 1994.

SWS classifies net trust ratings of at least +70 as “excellent”; +50 to +69 as “very good”; +30 to +49 as “good”; +10 to +29 as “moderate”, +9 to -9 as “neutral”; -10 to -29 as “poor”; -30 to -49 as “bad”; -50 to -69 as “very bad”; as well as -70 and below as “execrable.”

Analysts attributed the decline in Washington’s trust rating to controversial statements and protectionist policies of US President Donald J. Trump, but did not rule out Mr. Duterte’s tirades.

“Filipino individuals do not necessarily detach from world affairs, which means, because of Trump, Filipinos probably are now looking at the US differently or are expecting something different from the US,” Edmund S. Tayao, political science professor at the University of Santo Tomas, said in a telephone interview.


While admitting “[i]t may probably also have to do with how our president has been engaging with the United States,” Mr. Tayao said this factor was “not as significant as, say, actual sense of Filipinos and their relatives in the US as far as what’s happening there.”

Mr. Duterte has been highly critical of US policy, especially under former president Barack H. Obama, but has been more tempered in his remarks upon assumption of office of President Donald J. Trump, whom the Philippine leader claimed had personally expressed understanding for his hardline measures against narcotics suspects.

At the same time, however, Mr. Duterte — who calls himself a socialist — has prodded the Philippines closer to China and Russia as part of what he dubbed as more independent foreign relations.

The same SWS survey showed China’s net trust rating turning around to a “neutral” +9 (39% “much trust” against 30% “little trust”) in December that was two grades up from September 2016’s “bad” -33 in September. That was China’s best rating in over four years since March 2012’s “moderate” +10 in March 2012, SWS said. Read more…


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