, November 23, 2005
(STAR) By Paolo Romero - Malacañang shrugged off yesterday survey results showing that over half of Filipinos want President Arroyo to resign for alleged cheating in last year’s elections, saying "there is nowhere to go but up."

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye reiterated his belief that negative sentiments about Mrs. Arroyo had bottomed out and that other surveys had shown a slight improvement in her public opinion ratings.

"There is nowhere the trend will go but up, especially with the economy on a roll. Nevertheless, we will not be perturbed or distracted by negative survey results that have shown to be highly fluid and transient," he said.

Bunye said the "media hype" generated by such surveys would not obstruct Mrs. Arroyo’s plans and her administration’s focus on what should be done to solve the country’s problems.

"The pull and tug of surveys will always cause some media hype but this is not what is at the top of people’s minds," Bunye said. "We realize only too well that adverse public sentiments weigh heavily against a President making the tough decisions to fix up the economy."

He instead tried to focus attention on the economy’s performance, saying the bottom line is to keep the country’s fragile economy going forward.

Despite the public’s reported dissatisfaction with the political crisis and Mrs. Arroyo’s handling of it, Bunye said Filipinos "will follow the leader who delivers and they will work to preserve their gains."

As he has in the past, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita emphasized that many world leaders — including US President George Bush, who continues to defend his decision to occupy Iraq — suffer low public approval ratings.

"That is why what we should do is just concentrate on doing what’s good for the nation," Ermita said.

Based on the Oct. 15-27 Pulse Asia survey, over half of Filipinos believe the President should resign and be replaced over allegations that she cheated in last year’s presidential election but few agreed on how this should be done.

The survey also found no clear consensus as to who the political alternative to Mrs. Arroyo should be.

Nearly six out of every 10 Filipinos, or 58 percent of 1,200 Filipinos surveyed nationwide, said that an Arroyo resignation would be the "most beneficial political scenario" to end the political crisis.

But there is no clear agreement on how they want the five-month-old crisis to be resolved.

Mrs. Arroyo has been fighting accusations of poll fraud since June after the opposition released audiotapes allegedly of her phone conversations with an election official during the presidential vote count.

She denies rigging the election outcome. Her allies in the House of Representatives quashed an impeachment complaint against her in September, leading to a protracted battle with the opposition, of which Estrada is the de facto leader.

About half of Filipinos, or 52 percent, believe that Mrs. Arroyo cheated in the May 2004 vote, the Pulse Asia survey found. — With Aurea Calica

Use economic indicators as Christmas decor, GMA says By Aurea Calica The Star 11/23/2005

Filipinos have plenty to be thankful for this coming holiday season, and the country’s good economic indicators should be put up in lights for all to see, President Arroyo said.

"Thanks so much to God, I think we can say we have good indicators… We really should use Christmas as an opportunity to be thankful," the President said in a roundtable discussion with her officials on Monday, shortly after her arrival from Busan, South Korea where she attended the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ summit last week. "I remember at the Central Bank before — was it around 1996? We also had good economic indicators (and) they used that in graphs as Christmas decorations," Mrs. Arroyo said.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Gov. Amando Tetangco Jr. said the electric-light graphs that were used as Christmas decorations at the time included international reserves, interest rates, balance of payment figures and other positive indicators.

"All the economic indicators then were up so it was good to be used as Christmas decorations," Tetangco said.

The President said the same thing should be done now to show the people and the world that the Philippines has good economic indicators.

The President said in Hong Kong, where she spent the weekend meeting with businessmen and OFWs and visiting the Disneyland theme park with her family, she noticed the beautiful Christmas decorations that the Philippines should follow. Mrs. Arroyo reiterated that, despite the political crisis being fanned by her critics and detractors, the economy remains afloat and the country is stable. She is being accused of cheating in last year’s elections as well as corruption involving her and her family.

The President expressed thanks and happiness that no bird flu had yet been reported in the country, savings from debt servicing was up to P40 billion from P37 billion, and that seasonal remittances from overseas Filipino workers had boosted the peso. Mrs. Arroyo said there was an increase in investments and that the stock market was at a robust eight-month high. The President thanked her economic team for working to improve the economy.

Before her departure to Busan last Thursday, Finance Secretary Margarito Teves reported to the President that aside from the P37 billion in savings, the government incurred a deficit of P7.1 billion in October, lower by P3.1 billion than projected for the month.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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