POSTSCRIPT / July 13, 2006 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Upturn noted in GMA net satisfaction rating

GLORIOUS UPTURN: It is not difficult to believe news reports that the most recent Social Weather Stations survey showed an improvement in the public net satisfaction rating of President Gloria Arroyo.

The reported upturn in her rating jibes with my own perception of what people who used to be critical of Ms Arroyo’s administration are now saying about her stubborn campaign to beat the odds.

The SWS survey conducted June 22-28 using face-to-face interviews with 1,200 respondents picked nationwide showed the President gaining 12 points to improve her June grade to -13 compared to figures last March.

Some 34 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with her performance, against 48 percent who were not. The uptrend was previously noticed when the President’s net satisfaction rating went up to -30 in December 2005, then rose 5 points to -25 in March 2006. Now it is -13 and rising.

This means that more and more people, some of whom were previously critical, are now saying that they were satisfied with President Arroyo’s performance lately amid the relentless obstructionism and destabilization.

(If they were not that satisfied, I guess many of the respondents were at least willing to give the President another chance to whip the country into moving forward.)

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OPPOSITIONIST: It is significant, although expected, that the President’s improved ratings were noticed among the masa or lower economic classes outside the national capital.

While the President’s net satisfaction rating went up nationwide, it dropped in Metro Manila to -48 in June from -37 in March.

Metro Manila and the rich have always been oppositionist whoever sits in Malacanang, so a failing grade from them is normal.

The SWS report coincided with a consensus expressed by Catholic bishops that filing new impeachment charges against President Arroyo at this time was not going to be productive as far as ascertaining the truth about various festering issues was concerned.

Also, in the House of Representatives where complaints are filed to start the impeachment process, the number of congressmen willing to sign a complaint has also dwindled.

Whether they have been overtaken by impeachment fatigue or the money bags of Malacanang is very hard to tell.

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BISHOPS ON THE SPOT: The prelates comprising the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines need not be bothered by attempts of certified Arroyo critics to portray them as having been bribed by Malacañang into throwing cold water on impeachment moves.

The bishops can safely ignore that bribery accusation IF IT IS NOT TRUE anyway. But what if it were true? Still, the bishops better ignore it and not fan the flame into a conflagration.

No amount of explanation will clear it up in the minds of those who had prejudged the bishops and/or President Arroyo. And no explanation is needed for those who did not believe it in the first place.

Like light chasing away shadows, truth – in time – will overcome false accusations.

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BAD TIMING: But I would not be surprised if there were offers from the Palace or some of its money-making agencies (such as the sweepstakes and casino offices) to help some projects of the dioceses.

If there were such offers or even donations actually accepted, as long as the bishops concerned were not influenced by such charity to make them speak up or vote either way on impeachment and other issues, they should not worry about it.

I suspect that what had happened was another case of bad timing and a lack of delicacy on the part of those making the offers or delivering assistance to the parishes or dioceses.

Can you imagine the bishops being invited by the President for some pastoral talk and then her runners sidling up to whisper to the prelates about some donations or actually handing out envelopes under the table?

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QUID PRO QUO: Such a meeting is the wrong place and time for making or even just mentioning donations and assistance. Any offer or delivery at that place and time would be considered a quid pro quo proposition. It smacks of bribery. It is crude.

The best time to do PR (public relations) is when you do not need it. It is so easy to pick one or several days in the year when the President does not need anything from the Church or the prelates. That is the time to move – it will at least look like a genuine Christian act of sharing or consultation.

Such sharing by the Palace should not be tainted by any gesture or hint that the President would want something in return.

Just as in love, one just gives, gives, gives.

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EL SHADDAI: As if on cue, Bro. Mike Velarde of El Shaddai has aligned himself with the bishops. He has adopted their seeming lack of enthusiasm in pressing impeachment charges against the President.

At least Velarde knows his politics, and his business. He made the right move at the right time, never mind if not for the right reasons.

The flamboyant preacher’s timing is just right. I heard that the attendance in his weekly prayer rallies and the volume of donations to his apostolate have not been as enthusiastic as before.

The waning interest in his religion of material expectation is not surprising. The ever-rising expectations generated by Velarde himself among his flock are extremely hard to meet in this cruel world.

The intentions of most of those who flock to his prayer rallies are usually in the areas of economic deliverance and the cure of some dreaded disease. Among economically and medically challenged Filipinos, these needs are the most difficult to meet.

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LAPUS AT DEPED: Word got around early yesterday that Tarlac Rep. Jesli A. Lapus, chairman of the powerful House committee on ways and means, had been picked by President Arroyo to head the jurassic Department of Education.

I could not get immediate official confirmation, but President Arroyo must have felt after the yearly enrolment blues that it was high time she put in charge of DepEd a seasoned manager who had turned around sluggish companies into gold star performers.

As a parent and taxpayer, my minimum expectation of an effective DepEd secretary is one who can predict well in advance how many children will enroll in the country’s public schools, how many classrooms, quality books and teachers will be needed — and then be able to source the funds and produce these basic requirements before opening of classes.

I would add that DepEd be the factory churning out youths wrapped in the positive virtues we demand of Filipinos at home and abroad, of workers and professionals whose practical skills for life are balanced by the spiritual refinements of the human person.

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LIKE A GLOVE: Having seen Lapus operate in the academe and the hard-knock world out there, I am confident he fits the job of DepEd secretary like a hand slipped into a tailored silk glove.

Tapped at age 42 as president and CEO of the Land Bank in 1992, Lapus steered it in six years from No. 18 to No. 3 among commercial banks. Earlier, as chief of the local subsidiary of Triumph, a century-old German multinational firm, he achieved at age 29 the highest global production efficiency standards, paid the highest wages in the country, delivered the highest profitability and paid the highest taxes.

Can he duplicate or even surpass those turnaround performances in a department mired in decades of bureaucratic corruption and inefficiency? He (or anyone for that matter) cannot do it in one or two years, but I bet we would note improvements in the system starting with the second year.

If the post of DepEd secretary is offered to him, I hope Lapus accepts it.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of July 13, 2006)

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