POSTSCRIPT / June 24, 1999 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Poll on Erap term shows growing disappointment

JOIN the legions responding to Postscript’s poll on President Estrada’s first year in office. Send now your one-liner answers to the twin questions:

1. What was President Estrada’s greatest achievement in his first year in office?

2. What was your biggest disappointment with him as President?

The pervading assessment gleaned so far from the first big wave of respondents is one of a spreading disappointment with President Estrada’s failure to make good on his unsolicited inaugural promises.

We’ll report on the tentative tally in this column. Please scroll down.

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FOR those who will send their responses only now, we repeat some of the guidelines.

You can still send responses to <fdp333@info.com.ph> or to our STAR pigeonhole. We suggest you type as subject “Erap Poll” so your response does not get mixed with the regular readers’ mail.

A word or a phrase would do for an answer. There is no need to elaborate or explain your reply, nor is it necessary to give your full name. But if you don’t mind, we would appreciate your giving your age and sex, so we can visualize the respondents.

Also, we can’t stop you from adding comments (as many of the early respondents did) or telling us more about yourself. As we said in the last Postscript, we also want to know more about our readers, although that is not the focus of the current Postscript poll.

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WE don’t know how to explain this, but 99 percent of those in the first big wave of respondents were very critical of the Estrada administration. Many were groping for something to cite as Mr. Estrada’s “greatest achievement.”

Some had to fall back on irony and said that Mr. Estrada’s greatest feat in his first year in office has been the return of the Marcoses and the cronies, as well as the anti-poverty program of his administration that saw his relatives and friends becoming instant multimillionaires.

As for the respondents’ “biggest disappointment,” the most frequently mentioned frustration is the President’s saying one thing today and saying something else the next day (some did not mince words and called him a liar and hypocrite).

There is also the recurring mention of his reneging on his inaugural promises that under his administration, “walang kamaganak, walang kaibigan….”

* * *

ALTHOUGH we advised readers that there was no need to give their names and other personal circumstances, many of them talked about themselves, presumably to explain why they felt that way.

Most of the respondents (25 percent or one out of every four) were in the 31-35-age bracket; 18 percent in the 41-45-age bracket; and 10 percent in the 46-50 and 51-55 age brackets.

There were no teenagers, but 5 percent were in the 20-25-age bracket. The males dominated the survey, comprising 75 percent of those who responded.

Slightly over 10 percent sent their responses from their work place abroad. They said they read the STAR’s on-line edition via Internet. Fewer than 30 percent sent their responses from the provinces.

There were five foreigners, including two expatriates working as executives in Manila.

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SOME of these statistical data can be explained by the medium used: which is the Internet’s email facility. We have not checked on responses that were sent by postal mail or hand-delivered to the STAR, if any.

It is risky making conclusions from the data, but we’re tempted to say that there seems to be more males who are actively using the Internet, at least in this country.

This could be an erroneous assumption, since it could happen that men may just be more vocal in expressing their political views than the women, especially if the male head of family has expressed his views already.

* * *

WE were amazed, sometimes amused, by the rhetoric of those who went on to explain their responses. The vehemence of some of the critical comments has a nuance that we think the Estrada administration should study very carefully.

Some of the respondents wrote some fine pieces that would put many of us columnists to shame.

Of course, we don’t claim that this informal Postscript survey is a scientific process. But, as many readers pointed out, it was a generally welcomed chance for them to say what they think of the one-year-old Estrada administration.

* * *

SAMPLES of what they say were the Estrada administration’s “greatest achievements”:

Absolutely nothing!; what achievement?; None. (Nearly half of the respondents gave variations of this negative answer. Others just left a yawning blank to indicate zero achievement.);

Lessened crime, especially kidnapping; maintained popularity among the masses; looks presidential after one year; displayed political will against China’s intrusion; improved our economy; inaugural speech; Echegaray execution; he gave us hope, especially the poor; stabilized prices; showed the world Filipinos can manage their own affairs;

Able to consistently tell lies, retract statements; degraded our morality; gave favors to drinking buddies, gambling partners, mistresses, relatives, friends and political allies; panlilinlang sa tao;

Resurrected Marcoses and the cronies; abetted graft and corruption; helped masses become bunch of losers; fragmented the police and sowed confusion in the Cabinet.

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AS for their “biggest disappointments,” these were among those listed:

Immorality in high places; failure to set example; unpresidential antics and remarks; no management skills, allowing top offices to fall into scandals; coddling of friends and relatives involved in scams; inconsistencies and dishonesty in statements; resurgence of gambling and other vices; terrible traffic mess; lack of direction and inspiring leadership; vindictiveness and balat-sibuyas.

But some respondents said they were not that disappointed because they never expected much from Mr. Estrada.

* * *

SAMPLE this response from “RCP”:

“His greatest achievement: being able to consistently tell lies, lame excuses, being able to convert his critics to boot-lickers, make fantastic claims everyday, and for retracting most of his pronouncements (read: errors) with pride.

“All of these for almost a year now without batting an eyelash. We don’t just have a tabloid-oriented society now, we also have a tabloid-grade government.

“My greatest disappointment: I am so disappointed that he still has five years more to go. But I’m doing something about it. I’ll just leave the country for a while so I don’t get to see this boring circus everyday.

“It’s bad enough that most of the Estrada gang members are opportunistic. What’s worse is that they also think everyone in the country are also in their same level of IQ. Everywhere I look among his staff, I see thieves and liars. And most of his oppositors have now become either kumares or kumpadres — another name for ‘boot-lickers.’

“Along the traffic jams of Metro Manila, you see vehicles with ERAP plates swerving like mad snakes in the grass blaring their sirens and flashers. Not one traffic officer would dare touch them.

“The fact that the President himself has retracted many of his pronouncements the next day after delivering them goes to show that ideas in his administration are hatched from the bone marrows of their trembling knees. They might as well use their brains for making soup (ihalo na lang nila sa bulalo). The President’s speed in retracting statements can only be matched by the speed by which he defends his alipores who are caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

“President Estrada won by a landslide with his ‘Erap Para sa Mahirap’ slogan. In a country where the majority is poor, what can be a better political gimmick than that? So hayaan ninyo, pararamihin pa niya tayo.

“Walang ibang manloloko sa inyo, kundi kapwa ninyo Pilipino.”

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of June 24, 1999)

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