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Arroyo now most unpopular president in 20 years - SWS


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President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is now the least popular of the four presidents in the Philippines in the last 20 years, according to pollster Social Weather Stations (SWS). SWS president Mahar Mangahas on Tuesday said Mrs. Arroyo, whose critics still question her victory in the 2004 presidential polls, has received negative ratings from the public since August 2004. "Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA for short), now the least popular of the four Presidents in the two decades since opinion polls have been regularly published, has gotten negative Net Satisfaction ratings from the public since August 2004," Mangahas said in a piece written for the April 2006 issue of the World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR) Newsletter (www.unl.edu/wapor). He said Arroyo started out as "moderately popular," likely because of her "unusual but legal (as ruled by the Supreme Court) route to the presidency" following EDSA-2 in 2001. In February 2001, 61 percent accepted her as Joseph Estrada's replacement. Estrada remains in detention and is facing trial on charges of plunder. Arroyo got her first negative rating in early 2003, due to her decision for Philippine forces to join the United States in the Coalition of the Willing in Iraq. Her ratings bounced back during the run-up to the May 2004 elections, where she won a six-year term by an official score of 40.0% to 36.5%. Fernando Poe Jr., the second-placer, lodged a protest but died in December 2004, prompting the high court to throw out his protest in 2005. But Mangahas noted that furor erupted in early June 2005 when Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye held up two CDs in a press conference allegedly containing wiretaps of Mrs. Arroyo in June 2004 while the election returns were still being completed, asking then election commissioner Virgilio Garcillano to make sure that she would win by at least one million votes. On June 27, Arroyo admitted speaking to an (unnamed) election official "to protect her votes." On July 8, 10 Cabinet members resigned and called on Arroyo to step down. "Public opinion has been unfavorable to Mrs. Arroyo throughout 2005. Net satisfaction with her performance was -12 in March, -33 in May, -23 in August, and -30 in December. SWS telephone polls in Metro Manila found 59% (June 28-30) saying that Arroyo indeed told the official to cheat, and 62% (July 12-14) saying she should resign, failing which 85% wanted her impeached," Mangahas said. He said the national SWS survey of early September 2005 found 79% in favor of impeachment, 64% in favor of Arroyo’s resignation, and 51% in favor of toppling her by People Power if not impeached. In the same poll, only 24% believed that Arroyo really won the 2004 election, 57% believed that Arroyo’s phone calls told the Comelec official to cheat, and 40% said they had already personally heard the tapes or read its transcripts. In December 2005 the most popular idea for charter change was FVR's suggestion to cut short Arroyo's term in office (approved by 54%). But since then, Mangahas said, a "beleaguered" Arroyo "has turned to sterner tactics to defend herself," starting September by stymieing congressional investigations with EO 464. Last February 24, she claimed a leftist-rightist coup plot in declaring a state of emergency. "Police, justice department and military officials have continued to set an anti-free-speech tone even after state of emergency was formally lifted on March 3, with the administration now arguing that the case at the Supreme Court is moot and academic," he said.-GMANews.TV
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