Filipinos most disapproving of gov’t pandemic response in SEA, survey finds

(Photo by Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)

Metro Manila — A recent survey found that Filipinos are the most dissatisfied with their current administration’s COVID-19 efforts among Southeast Asian nations.

In a survey report published by the ASEAN Studies Centre of the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore on Wednesday, 53.7% of Filipino respondents thumbed down the government’s pandemic response, making them the most disapproving within the region of their leaders’ moves to address the health crisis.

This figure represents 35.8% of Filipinos who said they “disapprove” of the government’s COVID-19 response and 17.9% who said they “strongly disapprove.” Meanwhile, 6% “strongly approve,” 19.4% “approve” and 20.9% of the respondents are “neutral.”

Majority of the countries in the survey approve of their leaders’ handling of COVID-19. Vietnam topped the list with 93.9% of its respondents giving good ratings, Brunei with 93.9%, and Singapore with 92.4%. The three countries also recorded the lowest disapproval rates at 3%, 1.9% and 1.1%, respectively.

When asked what the government should do to better to address the crisis, 72% of the disapproving Filipino respondents said that scientist and doctors must contribute more to public policy discussions. Some 58.3% said that the country must “invest in early warning systems for pandemic outbreak and R&D for virus testing and vaccine development.”

Thirty-three percent said the government must offer better financial aid to pandemic-hit citizens, while 30.6% said “politicians and public servants should observe public health measures instead of flouting them.”

The least chosen recommendation, equivalent to only 5.6% of respondents, was the implementation of public health measures such as social distancing and wearing of masks.

Overall, majority or 32.7% of the Southeast Asian respondents picked Singapore as the country with the best leadership on COVID-19, followed by Vietnam with 31.1%.

Filipinos were also among those who believed that the pandemic’s threat to health is the most difficult challenge facing Southeast Asia. At least 80.6% of the Filipino respondents chose this as the top obstacle, followed by unemployment and economic recession with 65.7%, and increased military tensions arising from potential flashpoints such as the South China Sea with 37.3%.

Terrorism was the least chosen obstacle, garnering only 3.0% of the respondents.

There were 1,032 respondents from the ten ASEAN member states who participated in the survey conducted from November 18, 2020 to January 10, 2021. Respondents were from fields including academia or research, business and finance, government, civil society, media, and non-governmental sectors, as well as regional and international organizations.

“While it is not meant to present the definitive Southeast Asian view of current affairs, the survey acts as a barometer of the general attitudes and perceptions of interested stakeholders on important regional developments,” the report read. 

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