Dateline, Manila- President Aquino rejected the public’s 88% trust rating by Pulse Asia as a ploy to undermine his Government.
In an ambush interview as he went out for a smoke, the President told reporters that the poll was suspect and probably financed by his detractors to put him and his Administration in a bad light.
“ The record of Pulse Asia was not stellar in the elections and is probably not stellar now, “ he said. “ They predicted I would win by 41.52% when in fact I won by 41.67%. Statistically that is major”.
The President admitted the poll was damaging his ability to govern: “ With that kind of number there is no way but down. I asked my nephew Josh who is good in arithmetic. He said something I do could cut my popularity by half but nothing I do could, mathematically, double it. Those are not even 50/50 odds. The risk reward is not there.”
After some aggressive questioning the President acknowledged that the effect on his people was of particular concern. “ My Cabinet heads cannot sleep. They spend all their time glued to ABS-CBN waiting for the latest poll numbers. Nothing gets done in the office.”
One Cabinet officer who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of his position confirmed that he has put all his programs on hold. He did not want to be the one that caused the President’s ratings to drop. “ I am safest by doing nothing,” he explained. He was spending his time with his grandchildren in the mall and following the news on his Blackberry.
The President’s high rating has made it difficult to fill the 5000 vacant positions in Government. The Search Committee confirmed that candidates were reluctant to join for fear of losing face once the ratings start to drop. “I have a reputation to keep. Talk to me when you are at 25% approval “ is how one candidate put it. “ I don’t want to buy at the top of the market”.
The only official unperturbed by the whole affair is Vice-President Jojo Binay. When contacted, his office was humming with activity. “ I continue working for the Filipino people even as Mar’s nominees in the Cabinet are frozen in the headlights. At the end of the day let’s see who delivers.”
Mar’s nominees in the Cabinet countered:” It’s ok for him to speak that way since his trust rating is only 20%. Wait till his numbers start to climb.”
The Malacanang Communications Group has downplayed the impact of the Cabinet’s inactivity on the President’s agenda. “ This Government will continue to do what is right and not what is popular. We made some controversial appointments like Alvarez in Customs, Paje in DENR, Tolentino in MMDA and Ong in the Palace; which we hope will bring down the President’s ratings to a manageable level. The public outrage that these have stirred shows our strategy is starting to work.”
In a related development, President Aquino rejected NEDA Secretary General Paderanga’s offer to resign. Paderanga has been accused by various sectors of being unqualified for the position given his allegedly dismal record as President of the Philippine Stock Exchange and the Credit Bureau Inc.
There is speculation as to why Paderanga is being retained. One reason may be that Paderanga was one of the original LP supporters of the President. Others say he was responsible for the lack of economic initiatives in the President’s SONA. This was crucial in preventing Noy’s approval rating from breaching 100%.
“ We are working to keep the President’s numbers down. Given a little time we should get there”, said a Presidential spokesman.