JULY 24, 2006 (STAR) Nearly half of Filipinos disapprove of President Arroyo’s performance and have either little or no trust in her, according to a noncommissioned opinion survey.

Research firm Pulse Asia’s June 24-July 8 survey found that 44 percent of Filipinos are unhappy with her performance while 47 percent have little trust or no trust.

"Despite her administration’s aggressive campaigns to highlight several economic programs and numerous social amelioration projects, President Arroyo has yet to regain the public’s trust and the people’s appreciation of her performance as chief executive," Pulse Asia said in a statement.

"No president before her has experienced as extended a period of low public esteem; whereas public disenchantment in terms of low approval and trust ratings generally improve for Philippine presidents within two to three quarters, President Arroyo’s deflated approval and trust ratings have proven less tractable and outright improvements in public assessments of her performance and trustworthiness have been slow in coming," the statement said.

Twenty-six percent of Filipinos approve of Mrs. Arroyo’s performance while 23 percent trust her. Twenty-nine percent are undecided on Mrs. Arroyo’s performance and 30 percent on her trustworthiness.

Compared to last year’s figures, Pulse Asia said Mrs. Arroyo’s overall approval rating has increased from 19 to 26 percent but her overall trust rating, "given the rating’s margin of error, is essentially unchanged (17 percent versus 23 percent).

On the other hand, Mrs. Arroyo’s overall disapproval rating dipped from 58 percent a year ago while the overall distrust rating dropped from 59 percent.

"Nonetheless, the President’s current overall approval and trust ratings are still nowhere near her average ratings from 2001 to 2004," according to Pulse Asia. Her average over approval rating ranged from 46 to 56 percent during the period, while her overall trust ratings ranged from 40 to 51 percent.

Broken down by geographic areas, public approval of Mrs. Arroyo is low in all areas except in the Visayas, where 40 percent of the population there approve of her performance while 30 percent think otherwise.

Mrs. Arroyo’s trust ratings are low in all areas except also in the Visayas, where opinion is split (37 percent with trust, 36 percent with little or no trust).

Metro Manila and Mindanao have the most number of Filipinos who disapprove of Mrs. Arroyo’s performance, 50 percent and 48 percent, respectively, and are most distrustful — 52 percent and 54 percent, respectively.

"In particular, Filipinos are most critical of the national administrations’ efforts to control the rising prices of goods and services," Pulse Asia said, adding that the public considers the issue as "requiring the administration’s immediate attention."

"Filipinos are now more appreciative of the Arroyo administration’s efforts in the areas of national economic recovery, poverty reduction and controlling inflation than they were a year ago," Pulse Asia noted.

"However, a full year after recording their worst assessment of the administration’s performance in addressing urgent national concerns, Filipinos still appear most reluctant to change their negative sense," it said.

Pulse Asia interviewed 1,200 Filipinos nationwide for the poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points and a confidence level of 95 percent.

Pimentel decries siege mentality in security forces deployment in SONA 07/24 11:00:18 AM

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. Sunday said the deployment of about 16,000 government troops to provide security during President Gloria Arroyo's state of the nation address (SONA) smacks of overreaction to a perceived threat from alleged trouble-makers.

“With 16,000 cops and soldiers guarding her SONA, Gloria reveals her state of siege mentality. She fears her own people, and even her own shadow. Time for her to resign,” he said.

Noting that the number of security troops for the SONA is almost equivalent to the entire police force in Metro Manila, Pimentel said they are primarily meant to keep at bay the street rallysts who merely intend to express their disenchantment over the country’s state of affairs.

He said he could not see how the deployment of 16,000 troops could be justified especially after the military and police captured a group of Magdalo rebel officers and neutralized their alleged plot to sabotage the President’s SONA.

Pimentel said the military and police are merely raising a phantom threat by allegedly intercepting purported New People’s Army plan to infiltrate and bomb the rallysts.

He said the show of force by the PNP and AFP on the day of SONA is a glaring indication of the President’s increasing isolation from the people and the extent of her efforts to keep herself in power.

Pimentel said the President’s insecurity, the continuing repression of human rights and her heavy reliance on the military to prop up her government could be traced to her lack of legitimacy resulting from the massive fraud that tainted the 2004 presidential election.

“She is ruling the country by the use of force, backed by the arms of the military and police, and not by the force of persuasion,” he said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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