– Mea culpa.
President Arroyo’s spokesman took the fall yesterday for the unpopularity of his boss, saying the Chief Executive’s ratings, which remain at record lows with only six months left in her term, reflected his performance.
“Maybe I have failed to do my job as press secretary for 10 months now, of effectively communicating the achievements of our very hardworking President,” Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said in reaction to the results of the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey that showed a majority or 61 percent of Filipinos remain dissatisfied with Mrs. Arroyo’s performance.
“I am very sad about the public approval rating of the President despite all the good things she has done and the many sacrifices she has made for our country,” Remonde said.
“We consider this as a challenge to work harder so that the Filipino people can better appreciate what a great President this country has in Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.”
The Fourth Quarter 2009 Social Weather Survey, conducted from Dec. 5 to 10, showed that only 23 percent of respondents were satisfied with Mrs. Arroyo’s performance, giving her a “bad” net satisfaction rating of -38.
The non-commissioned survey also found that dissatisfaction with Mrs. Arroyo eased in Luzon outside Metro Manila, but worsened in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Since she assumed the presidency in 2001, Mrs. Arroyo has had several spokespersons and press secretaries, including former business journalist and now Ambassador Rigoberto Tiglao, Press Undersecretary Milton Alingod, Silvestre Afable, Ignacio Bunye who is now Monetary Board member, and Jesus Dureza who is now presidential adviser for Mindanao.
The President’s official spokesman in concurrent capacity is Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita. She also has an economic spokesperson, Gary Olivar.
Dureza said being press secretary is a “very daunting job not only for what the public fails to see in terms of her achievements, accomplishments and her good works, but also because of what the public sees that are not true or perceptions that are not based on reality but personal attacks and biases,” Dureza told The STAR in a telephone interview.
“But I believe in the end, she (Mrs. Arroyo) will be judged fairly when the smoke settles down and there is more objectivity and less emotions and biases, and the people will realize that she is being judged unfairly despite having worked hard,” he said.
“I’m speaking as a person who works closely with the President,” he said.
GMA herself to blame
Senators, for their part, blamed corruption for the people’s bad opinion of the Arroyo administration.
“The New Year should bring about better governance, food, jobs and we must win the battle versus climate change,” Sen. Loren Legarda said in reaction to the SWS survey results.
Legarda lamented that 2009 “was a year of tragedies and continuing misgovernance and corruption and no respect for human rights and rule of law.”
“The Filipino people deserve deliverance from all of these. I will do all I can to reverse and correct the situation,” Legarda, who is running for vice president under the Nationalist People’s Coalition and a guest candidate of the Villar-led Nacionalista Party, said.
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr., for his part, said the 61 percent rating was “minimum only” because more Filipinos were actually dissatisfied.
Liberal Party standard-bearer and survey favorite Sen. Noynoy Aquino said Mrs. Arroyo “has not changed her ways, therefore the people’s dissatisfaction with her continues.” –(The Philippine Star) with Christina Mendez