POSTSCRIPT / July 24, 2005 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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61% of respondents want GMA to stay on

HOW COME?: Lately, the surveys of some of the big research outfits have claimed to show that an overwhelming and growing number of Filipinos want Gloria Arroyo out of the presidency to get the country out of the crisis of confidence gripping it.

One sometimes wonders how the surveys were conducted: what questions were asked, how they were asked, who were asked, how the respondents were selected; who commissioned the surveys and for how much.

Knowing how local poll survey groups operate, I normally ignore their survey results published in the newspapers. This is not to say that I do not believe them. I still note the figures but take the numbers with a grain of salt.

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OPPOSITE FINDINGS: I was surprised when my own little unprofessional “survey” among POSTSCRIPT readers showed a significant segment of the population going in the opposite direction — meaning they want GMA to stay on.

My survey is admittedly not as “scientific” or elaborate as the professional ones, mainly because the questions I asked were not pre-tested and the spontaneous respondents do not represent a cross-section of the population.

But still it is intriguing that while the big ones claim that an overwhelming and growing number of Filipinos want GMA out, some 61 percent of my respondents want her to stay!

I would have dismissed the discrepancy if the big surveys and my little survey pointed to the same direction (ouster of GMA) but differed only in the figures or how many wanted her to resign or to be removed.

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THE OPTIONS: As my regular readers know, I asked them to say which of these post-GMA options they prefer in light of demands of the political opposition and other groups that President Arroyo resign or be removed:

Option #1: President Arroyo resigns. Vice President Noli de Castro becomes president.

Option #2: Both Ms Arroyo and Mr. De Castro resign or are removed. The Senate President shall act as president until the replacement president and vice president are chosen in special elections.

Option #3: All elective posts from the president down to local executives are declared vacant. A transition president backed by a council takes over what would be an authoritarian setup while a new Constitution is being written.

Option #4: A junta dominated by military types grabs power. The junta lays down all the pertinent rules until it decides that the nation is ready for a return to civilian rule.

Option #5: NOTA — None of the Above. This could mean keeping the status quo (which will have President Arroyo staying on) or settling for your Option #6 below.

Option #6: Your own Option or suggestion.

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‘GMA STAY’ LEADING: As of yesterday, the results were: Option #5 (None of the Above, with GMA staying on), 60.8 percent; Option #1 (GMA resigns, VP Noli de Castro becomes president)), 10.4 percent; Option #6 (give your own suggestion), 9.6 percent; Option #4 (military junta takes over), 8.8 percent; Option #2 (Both GMA and VP Noli de Castro resign or are removed), 5.6 percent; and Option #3 (vacate all posts and a transition president and an advisory council take over), 4.8 percent.

We have to point out that the responses have been coming mainly from readers with emailing capability, with a sprinkling of respondents who send us their choices via cellphone text messages and through messenger/postal mail.

This screens out, unintentionally, those who do not have ready means to respond. These are mostly in the C-D-E crowd.

This has led me to conclude that President Arroyo has started to gain support from the middle class and those who have been able to discern what is good for the country as the debate raged on.

But still, there were those who said they wanted her to stay not because they liked her but because they dread the chaos that is likely to ensue upon her resignation or removal.

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MORE RESPONSES: Here are more samples of the comments received together with the votes of respondents. I chose them chronologically, or as they came in:

Bing I. Dionida, bdionida2001@yahoo.com: NOTA. No one can resolve the crisis. I didn’t want FPJ cheated, but if that was the only way to keep the Philippines above water, so be it. FPJ and his cohorts would have brought down the country far worse than GMA. The moment FPJ announced his candidacy, the peso-dollar exchange rate shot up.

Fil Gementiza, filgem01@yahoo.com: NOTA. Let all the contending forces shoot each other so that all the evil would be wiped out then we can truly have the beginning of peace and progress! The Bible says evil will not triumph!

Vernoni Dulalia, vdulalia@info.com.ph: NOTA. Many of us here in the office support GMA. The four scenarios you mentioned are just frightening. I am inclined to agree with pushing for charter change. It is high time we shifted to a parliamentary form of government. The senators are against it because all of them will lose their jobs.

Vicente Marasigan, SJ, vic@pusit.admu.edu.ph: NOTA. Malabo!

Edo, Media Researcher: NOTA. GMA has no intention to resign, so there will never be a Post-GMA Option. All the so-called options you presented are actually other terms for suicide. At this time, GMA for all her ‘lapses in judgment’ should stay. Let’s all pray fervently.

Christian Ronquillo, christian.ronquillo@gmail.com: Option #1. It’s crazier to see the other options happening. Each increases the likelihood of having more imbalances in government, whereas having De Castro take over is a constitutional one. Never mind if he has not much political experience — it’s too late to regret that. We have put him there.

ROY S, matias_125@yahoo.com: Option #1. That’s what our Constitution says. The problem is not that Noli de Castro is not yet ready for the presidency but will the opposition/destabilizers now stop when GMA is gone? I don’t think so. They missed their chance in the last election, now they want to grab power by another means.

Wilfredo G. Villanueva, BF Resort Village, Las Piñas City: Option #4. Military junta.

Carl Cid S.M. Inting, 269D Tojong St., Cebu City: Option #1. I don’t know if it will be the best in the long-term, but we are in too fragile a condition to gamble right now. Mr. de Castro has been exposed to the most pressing issues affecting the country since his days as reporter and broadcaster. He is therefore not clueless and must even be street-smart.

Henry P. Desiderio, henry@qship.com: Option #4. Once the junta takes over, they can start cleansing the nation by killing all traditional politicians, political clans, radical left, know-it-all-civil societies, tax evaders, corrupt officials and even rallying church leaders. Then we can have a fresh start by only allowing taxpayers to vote in any election.

Dr. Yang, Taiwan: Option #4. Filipinos need to be disciplined militarily. Ordinary Pinoys are too undisciplined these days because of too much freedom. And those recycled trapos are not doing their jobs for the betterment of the Filipino nation and surely are not the solutions to our predicament. They should be rounded up to face a firing squad.

Hilario del Rosario, aridelros@yahoo.com: It is possible that at least two options you mentioned will happen. Possibly three. The only thing these various groups have in common is the desire for change. And GMA will play it safe by compromise. Whether or not she will succeed remains to be seen.

Vic Gumban, ebgumban@yahoo.com: NOTA. Gloria should stay on as President until proven guilty or impeached. Nothing could stop these shady politicians and leftists , who have their own agenda from trying to oust any elected leader. The same scenario will happen to the next presidency if we allow this to happen. And the most people that will suffer are the masses.

George Villaruel, georvill@shaw.ca: NOTA. GMA should stay. At least we now have an idea on how she works. Her unpopular decisions are needed, or else our country will be forever in economic turmoil. What if after her, there is another resign movement? We have to drop the mentality of using people power whenever we don’t agree with the president.

Edsel Mabilin, Paranaque City: NOTA. Charge the president first with whatever our legal system applies. “Hakot” crowd should never topple a government. The long-term solution is proper investment in our education system so future generations will know how to select true leaders. The immediate solution? We have to pray harder!

Diomedes V. Aboy, Paranaque: Option #2. A special election will choose a new president and vice president. The election will help neutralize/mitigate the ill-feeling of the majority towards the Arroyo administration. This would give the people a chance to throw out administration candidates and elect opposition candidates.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of July 24, 2005)

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