MANILA, April 21, 2004
By Marichu Villanueva - President Arroyo downplayed yesterday the results of a Social Weather Stations (SWS) poll taken last month that showed a majority of Filipinos don’t expect their lives to get better.

In the SWS survey, 44 percent of the respondents said the quality of life worsened from a year ago, 39 percent said their lives didn’t change, and only 17 percent said their lives improved.

Mrs. Arroyo blamed the pessimism on general feelings of government neglect that didn’t develop "overnight" during her term.

"Of which they have been saying for many years now. The feeling of pessimism doesn’t happen overnight," she said.

She also blamed the pessimism in part on popular perceptions she will lose the May 10 elections to Fernando Poe Jr., a popular movie actor with no experience in government.

"Pero tingnan mo noong lumabas ’yung survey na ako’y umaangat (But look, when the survey came out that I was leading), what happened to our peso, what happened to our stock market," she said.

After plunging to its lowest level of over P56 to $1, the peso has rallied in recent days to its highest level in nearly three months. Trading at the Philippine stock market has also perked up.

Market traders attributed the peso and stock market recovery to surveys pointing to the increasing likelihood of an Arroyo victory over Poe.

In a Pulse Asia survey released last week, Mrs. Arroyo for the first time got a slim but statistically significant lead over Poe — 34 percent compared to 31 percent.

The President made her remarks about the SWS quality of life survey during a political rally and press conference at the Southern Luzon Polytechnic College in Lucban, Quezon province.

Mrs. Arroyo insisted that the pessimism wasn’t justified by the state of the economy.

She cited the decision of the California Pension Fund to keep their investments in the Philippines as proof that the economy isn’t in bad shape.

"This morning, I got the news from California Pension Fund that they have given my administration the highest rating in the history of the Philippines," she said. The President also highlighted another aspect of the SWS survey that showed poor Filipinos were appreciative of her administration’s efforts to reduce the price of commonly used medicines.

"According to the SWS, many of our countrymen felt the reduction in the price of medicine. Now many of them are able to use medicines. This means more Filipinos can get well because they can now take the right medicine through ‘Botika ng Barangay’ where cheaper medicines can be bought and generic medicines now reach the barangays," she said.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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