MANILA, DECEMBER 12, 2007 (STAR) By Helen Flores - President Arroyo is perceived to be the “most corrupt” president in the history of the Philippines, a survey by Pulse Asia revealed yesterday.

On the other hand, former President Corazon Aquino is perceived to be the least corrupt.

Mrs. Arroyo topped the list with 42 percent of respondents picking her as the “most corrupt among Philippine presidents.”

The late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, who was ousted by a civilian-backed military revolt in 1986, came in second with 35 percent, while pardoned former President Joseph Estrada landed in the third place with 16 percent.

At the bottom of the list of the findings of the Pulse Asia’s October 2007 Ulat ng Bayan national survey on Corruption-Related Issues were former Presidents Fidel Ramos with five percent and Aquino, one percent.

Mrs. Arroyo, meanwhile, maintained that her government has been chalking up gains in the fight against corruption and said the perception on the issue “does not match reality.”

In her speech at the 100th anniversary celebration of the Philippine Columbian Association last night, Mrs. Arroyo said the administration has been investing heavily on cutting red tape and eliminating corruption in the system.

She said “the people deserve an honest and hardworking government because the Filipino people are honest and hardworking.”

“We aim to stamp out corruption and set a new standard of governance for our nation,” she said. “Corruption stops the life blood of our political system. It must be stamped out.”

She added that the government’s anti-corruption adviser, Tony Kwok, who was a key player in stamping out corruption in Hong Kong, believes that perceptions cloud the reality of progress in reducing corruption and red tape in the Philippines.

“We take this issue seriously. We believe that perception will match reality in a few short years. However, this is a problem that has plagued the Philippines and other countries for generations, and experience has shown it won’t be eliminated overnight, but I assure you progress is being made,” Mrs. Arroyo said.

The survey on corruption was conducted from Oct. 20-31, using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults, 300 each from the National Capital Region, Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.

Among socio-economic classes, those from Class ABC gave Mrs. Arroyo the highest score in terms of corruption with 50 percent.

Geographically, 50 percent of respondents from NCR and Luzon perceive Mrs. Arroyo as the most corrupt.

The Arroyo administration is also perceived to have the most intense allegations of corruption, scoring the highest among Metro Manilans with 56 percent, Pulse Asia said.

The Marcos administration came far second with 21 percent in the NCR, followed by the Estrada administration (11 percent), Ramos administration (eight percent) and Aquino administration (two percent).

The survey also found that Aquino is perceived as the least or not corrupt president of the country (66 percent). She scored highest in the Visayas (78 percent).

Aquino was followed by Estrada as the least or not corrupt leader with 11 percent. He was the first Philippine president to undergo an impeachment trial due to allegations of massive corruption. Estrada’s term was cut short by a popular uprising in 2001.

He was convicted for plunder last September but was granted executive clemency by Mrs. Arroyo a few weeks later.

Marcos is the third perceived least or not corrupt president (nine percent). Ramos, meanwhile, got six percent. Mrs. Arroyo was at the bottom of the list with five percent.

At the time of the interviews for the survey, reports on the following developments dominated the news headlines: the cash distribution to several government officials at Malacañang, the renewed calls for Mrs. Arroyo’s resignation and the planned revival of impeachment complaints against her, the blast in Glorietta 2 in Makati City that killed several people, the rift between Mrs. Arroyo and Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. over the national broadband network project and cash handout controversies, the continuing Senate investigation on the ZTE contract, the granting of pardon to Estrada, the holding of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, and the increasing price of oil in the global market as well as the steady appreciation of the Philippine peso.

The survey had an error margin of plus-minus three percent.

“Pulse Asia undertakes Ulat ng Bayan surveys on its own without any party singularly commissioning the research effort,” the survey said. - With Paolo Romero

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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