Signs now clearer that GMA won’t exit in 2010
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-07-22
Trust Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) to exceed herself. In the June 27-30 SWS (Social Weather Stations) survey that was released last Friday, GMA registered a –38% net satisfaction rating, topping her mark of –35% in March.

My friend Ely Saludar, radio station DZXL’s top commentator, called at 6:30 a.m. last Saturday to get my take on the SWS survey. Ely makes it a point to call me from time to time, coinciding with developments that account for our being in what are called interesting times.

Ely was puzzled that the dole-outs GMA has been giving all over the place didn’t make a positive impact on public sentiment. The dole-out recipients, the class E, gave GMA a devastating -45% net satisfaction rating in the June SWS survey — topping the previous -37% of March 2008.

In the Visayas, GMA’s strongest support base, she fell by 18 points from -15% in March to -33% in June. Overall, only 22% nationwide were satisfied with GMA’s performance versus 60% who were dissatisfied.

I told Ely that the following factors delivered the worst ever net satisfaction ratings of GMA:

1. The unstoppable steep rise of gas and food prices and practically all other items in what is the country’s worst economic condition since 1946.

2. The sad spectacle of a leader who was in the US while the country was reeling from the effects of Typhoon Frank.

3. The people felt that there was nothing happening that would even suggest deliverance or relief.

4. The period also coincided with a perceived rise in criminality.

As to the failure of GMA’s dole-outs to soften the negative impact, I believe that this stems from two reasons:

1. Most people saw it as a sort of consuelo de bobo, a token for the failure to shield them from the gas and food crises.

2. As proved in many cases pertaining to the culture of mendicancy, recipients of dole-outs develop a resentment of their donors because the act of donation made them feel inferior — eroded their dignity.

As if attempting to dig themselves into a bigger hole, GMA’s apologists are trying to explain the devastating net satisfaction rating as the result of “unpopular reforms” GMA has implemented. They may be fooling themselves but they are not fooling anyone else.

Why GMA insists on pursuing the counter-productive course of resorting to costly dole-outs (that could only worsen the budget deficit) cannot be dismissed as simple stupidity or stubbornness. I believe that this is indicative of what is foremost on GMA’s mind these days — how to stay in power beyond 2010.

She could easily lessen the misery index by reducing taxes on oil and power generation and distribution — generating the needed revenues from hiked sin taxes and taxes on luxury consumption – but she does not. That to me is a political decision as she opts to keep the loyalties of Danding Cojuangco and Lucio Tan who will both be affected by increased sin taxes.

Ask yourself: Why would GMA fear losing the support of Danding Cojuangco and Lucio Tan if she is intent on easing the price crisis and exiting in 2010 with a semblance of having achieved something for the country?

If it is a 2010 exit GMA is bent on doing, the satisfaction of the majority of Filipinos would be of greatest priority to her and not keeping the political support of Messrs. Cojuangco and Tan.

The re-emergence of GMA’s lapdog, former AFP Chief Hermogenes Esperon, now MILF Peace Panel Adviser, recommending the amending of the Constitution in order to accommodate the granting of the Moro ancestral domain is highly suspicious. I am not alone in suspecting this move as a cover up for the real intention of changing to a parliamentary form of government which will allow GMA to stay in power as Prime Minister.

All those billions being earmarked for more dole-outs are all about campaign kitties and not relieving the people’s misery. The appointment of ‘Blue Chicken’ Romy Neri as SSS Administrator is seen by many, including SSS employees and stakeholders, as part of a plan to fund a “power beyond 2010” campaign.

The attempt to wrest control of Meralco from the Lopezes becomes more understandable when seen as a part of a big plan to control the power and energy sector which is very political. Of all the Congressional committees available, it then comes as no coincidence that Mikey Arroyo sits on the Energy Committee.

But what is worrisome in all this has to be the fact that they do not care at all at how unpopular these moves are. Far from being “bold unpopular reforms” as they like to brand it – these moves are brazen political acts that are undertaken regardless of public sentiment and opinion. This can only reveal a regime confidence that they can do anything no matter how unpopular and evil it is.

That GMA plans to stay in power beyond 2010 has become clearer and clearer. Now, let me ask you: What are you going to do about it?

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