Trust index: Covid-19 response most vital

INSTITUTIONS that respond quickly and effectively to crises have earned the trust of the Filipinos who have been more critical of the Covid-19 situation, a study revealed.

The 2021 Philippine Trust Index (PTI) by EON Group noted that institutions gain public trust through their actions, especially if they are visible amid the mobility restrictions.

“Filipinos take into account whether an institution was able to recognize the threat of the Covid-19 early on and take not just effective, but also timely actions to mitigate its effects and if it had provided clear and credible communication to help organizations, communities and individuals  make the necessary pivots during the crisis,” EON Chief Innovation Officer Mori Rodriguez said in an online event on Wednesday.

The PTI report covers the trust landscape across the church, academe, media, government, nong-government organizations (NGO) and business.

“Filipinos are more critical now, looking closely at the decisions and actions taken by the leaders and local representatives of these six institutions, to see how they have directly impacted not only their communities but also their personal lives,” Rodriguez added.

The survey listed the worries of the Filipinos in the pandemic, which include the “poor” Covid-19 response by the government and its “prioritization of politics over more urgent concerns.”


The respondents also have fear of getting infected with Covid-19 and shouldering debts if a family member gets infected.

Other concerns are vaccine hesitancy, mobility restrictions and job losses due to pandemic.

In terms of total trust in leadership amid the pandemic, the church and journalists or media professionals scored the highest with 90 and 83, respectively. Business leaders, meanwhile, scored the lowest at 66.

The study is supported by on-ground surveys and analysis of online conversations about institutions.

On-ground survey showed that the business sector is the “biggest loser” in the past two years; its score dropped to 66 this year from 71 in 2020 and 75 in 2019, according to EON President Richard Arboleda.

Government and academe retained their scores of 76 and 90, respectively.

The score of the church was up by 1 point to 91 while the media’s score jumped to 76 from 69 last year.

“Meanwhile, sentiments of trust expressed in the digital space over the past two years have lowered across almost all institutions,” EON Head of Strategic Planning and Analytics Teddy Mapa said. “In terms of distrust, the government still holds mostly unfavorable views from social media users, with negative mentions comprising a majority of online conversations about it.”

The percentage of distrust in government reached 44 percent in the online analysis, the highest among the institutions. This is followed by the media with 26 percent.

NGO is the most trustworthy with 45 percent in terms of “trust.” Meanwhile, online conversations are mostly neutral towards the church and academe.

Trust drivers

The report also noted the other public trust drivers across the institutions.

For church, Filipinos consider the integrity and honesty in accounting and handling funds and other resources; and separation of the church and state.

The academe can earn trust if it helps develop human capital with the purpose of boosting productivity. In addition, the respondents want educational institutions to follow high ethical standards and foster innovation for economic growth.

Media can be trustworthy if it is “always at the forefront when natural disasters/calamities/pandemics happen” and “provides assistance to those seeking redress for grievances.”

The report showed NGOs can further drive trust through engagements in “real programs” including the provision of jobs and livelihood, healthcare and educational assistance, in addition to continuous support to their advocacies.

The trust drivers identified for the government are: assistance such as housing, food and education to the poor, improvement on the economy and protection of Philippine territories.

The most trusted government agencies are the Department of Education (91 percent), Pag-IBIG (89 percent), Department of Social Welfare and Development (88 percent), Government Service Insurance System (87 percent) and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (87 percent).

Meanwhile, the least trusted are the Ombudsman (74 percent), Senate (74 percent), Office of the Vice President (75 percent), Department of Budget and Management (76 percent), Presidential Communications Operations Office (76 percent) and the Department of Finance (76 percent).

For the business sector, the study noted the following as signs of trustworthiness: fair labor practices, good salaries and employee benefits and environment-friendly policies and programs.

The most trusted in the business sector are food and beverage (91 percent), healthcare services (91 percent), pharmaceuticals (90 percent), telecommunications (88 percent) and water and sanitation (86 percent).

The least trusted, on the other hand, are real estate and construction (71 percent), advertising and public relations (71 percent), alcohol and tobacco (70 percent), insurance (68 percent) and mining (52 percent).

Moving forward

The PTI report noted that majority of Filipinos (91 percent) will not be abandoning the country any time soon despite the crisis in the pandemic.

Those who said yes are only looking for better job opportunities abroad and have no plans to migrate.

“While the trust landscape for 2021 may be rosy to some and discouraging to a few, 2022 offers a fresh chance for all institutions to do better by the Philippines,” Rodriguez concluded.

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