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Politics

Filipinos’ trust in Duterte falls to lowest level - survey

President Rodrigo Duterte speaks after his arrival, from a visit in Israel and Jordan in Davao City in southern Philippines on Sept. 8, 2018.   © Reuters

MANILA (Reuters) -- Public trust in Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte dropped to the lowest of his presidency, a survey showed on Saturday, although he still maintained a rating of "very good".

Trust is used by independent pollster Social Weather Stations (SWS) to gauge public opinion with a president’s personality.

It fell 8 points in the second quarter to +57 from +65 in an earlier poll. It was the popular leader's lowest score in nine surveys taken since he took office in June 2016.

To reach each rating, the surveys subtract the percentage who respond with “low trust” in Duterte from those who said they had "much trust" in him.

SWS surveyed 1,200 people at the end of June, in a week when Duterte called God "stupid" during a verbal assault on the Catholic Church after top priests criticised his bloody anti-narcotics campaign, which has killed thousands of people.

The Philippines is majority Catholic.

Duterte again hit out at the church in a news conference on Saturday, calling priests' groups "the most hypocritical institution in the Philippines today", with the church facing child abuse cases in the Philippines and elsewhere.

Ramon Casiple, head of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms in Manila, said it was normal for a president's rating to fall at the two-year stage of his term.

The survey did not ask respondents to explain their rating. Duterte had enjoyed high trust ratings, peaking at +79 shortly after taking office.

Duterte did not mention the survey results on Saturday but a spokesman welcomed the support.

"We are now working double time to aid families affected by high prices while keeping the economy stable," presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement.

Annual inflation reached its highest in nearly a decade in August, exceeding expectations and increasing the changes of a fourth interest rate rise this year.

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