, July 23, 2005
(STAR) By Evelyn Macairan - Filipinos would prefer the administration of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos over that of President Arroyo, according to the latest findings of a Pulse Asia survey to be released early next week.

While the President is set to deliver her State of the Nation Address (SONA) or "Ulat sa Bayan" on Monday, Pulse Asia research director Felipe Miranda yesterday gave a sneak preview of the results of the Pulse Asia nationwide "Ulat ng Bayan" survey.

Speaking before academic achievers of the Far Eastern University (FEU) in Sampaloc, Manila, Miranda said "the Ulat ng Bayan" should be close to the truth.

According to Miranda, Marcos garnered the highest rating of 7.0 percent among the five past and present leaders, while Mrs. Arroyo received the lowest score of 3.4 percent.

However, the University of the Philippines professor of 42 years refused to discuss the ratings of other past presidents included in the survey — Corazon Aquino, Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada — to avoid preempting the official release of the survey results.

Marcos was ousted by a military-backed people power revolt in February 1986. He fled to Hawaii, where he died in 1989. Marcos was replaced by Corazon Aquino.

Miranda said Filipinos are again at "another crossroads of history" wherein "the failed governance by the national administration compounds an already problematic economic situation… wherein it makes people look back at the previous administrations."

As a result of the political crisis hounding the Arroyo administration, there are now opinions that the administration of the deposed President Estrada was "superior to this one," Miranda said.

Mrs. Arroyo is accused of rigging last year’s presidential election after the opposition last month released audiotapes of phone conversations of a woman sounding like Mrs. Arroyo discussing the progress of the May 2004 presidential vote count with an election official.

The poll fraud allegations were compounded by accusations that Mrs. Arroyo’s husband, eldest son and brother-in-law received payoffs from illegal gambling barons.

The opposition allied with Estrada has led calls for Mrs. Arroyo’s resignation.

Mrs. Arroyo apologized for phoning an election official but denied rigging the vote. She has refused to resign but welcomed an impeachment challenge, now being readied by the opposition in the House of Representatives.

Several Liberal Party members led by Senate President Franklin Drilon had urged Mrs. Arroyo to resign and hand over the presidency to Vice President Noli de Castro.

Other party members loyal to Mrs. Arroyo, however, maintain the party remains supportive of the President.

Drilon insists the party remains intact. "Although there are party members who may have divergent opinions on this matter, rest assured there are no factions in the Liberal Party. We are one."

Critics accuse Drilon of abandoning Mrs. Arroyo because it would put him next in line for the presidency if De Castro takes over.

Drilon rejected the speculation. "I am not interested in the vice presidency. That is a spare tire," he told students at FEU in Manila yesterday.

"I believe that our patriotism and loyalty to our country can be manifested in the sacrifices we are willing to make for the survival of our nation. Moreover, I believe that leaders should have integrity and credibility so that when they call for sacrifices our people will willingly follow."

He also said he was willing to risk his post as Senate president in opposing Mrs. Arroyo.

"If the majority in the Senate believe that somebody else should lead the chamber as a consequence of the position I and the Liberal Party took, I will harbor no rancor or bitterness," Drilon said.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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