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Analysis

Doubts on ‘daang matuwid’

/ 12:25 AM October 17, 2014

CANBERRA – Malacañang disputes recent survey results showing that only three of 10 Filipinos believe President Aquino has delivered on his promise of “daang matuwid” (straight path).

A survey conducted by Pulse Asia on Sept. 8-15, the results of which were released on Monday, revealed that 29 percent of the respondents believe Mr. Aquino has delivered on his promise, but 36 percent believe he failed. The survey also revealed that three out of four Filipinos (34 percent) are ambivalent on the issue, which matters a lot to the credibility of “daang matuwid” as a norm of good governance.

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The result that the administration found dismaying was that pluralities in Metro Manila (36 percent) and Luzon (45 percent)—the most populous and outspoken of the regions of the country—think Mr. Aquino failed to execute his well-propagated “daang matuwid” approach. Forty-three percent of Visayans are ambivalent on the issue, while 43 percent of the people of Mindanao believe that the promise was carried out—results that also proved disconcerting to the administration. Pulse Asia said the survey was conducted during a period when the media were reporting on the President’s request to Congress for emergency powers to address the expected power shortage in 2015 and on his expression of trust for Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima amid calls that the latter resign because of accusations of corruption.

Malacañang has gotten used to listening to and believing in its own propaganda that the “straight path” is the key to high economic growth and reduced poverty, even without sound economic programs including building infrastructure and creating jobs. Now it finds it hard to accept that 36 percent of Filipinos believe that the President has failed to deliver on his promise to lead the country toward the “daang matuwid.” Malacañang spokesperson Edwin Lacierda rejected the contention that Filipinos were not satisfied with the administration’s program, and wondered about the timing of the Pulse Asia survey.

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“That is not correct,” Lacierda told reporters at a briefing. “The ‘daang matuwid’ has been an ongoing campaign for the past four years. Why is it that [the people of Pulse Asia] conducted the survey on it now?”

Perhaps he should be asked: Where was he during the past four years when Pulse Asia was monitoring public opinion on the “straight path”? Maybe he could have been lost in the wilderness, led astray by markers of the trail that is not as straight as it is claimed to be.

Lacierda did acknowledge that the survey took place “on the heels of recent controversies that the administration [was] experiencing.” He said the survey results were probably influenced by those controversies. He lamented that public sentiment toward the “daang matuwid” program “cannot be contextualized because of lack of prior surveys containing the same set of questions.” He declined to relate the survey results to the President’s refusal to sack PNP chief Purisima, who is facing plunder charges at the Office of the Ombudsman.

Lacierda explained that the “recent difficulties” were “a snapshot of the prevailing experiences … when the survey was taken” and would have an impact on the response of the people. Taking a potshot at the methodology of the pollster, Lacierda cited the survey results showing that only 29 percent of the respondents believe that Mr. Aquino has delivered on his promise and that 36 percent think he failed and 34 percent are undecided. Lacierda insisted that it would be “difficult for [them] to contextualize the results … because they do not know the sentiments of the people before the survey. Is it lower? Is it higher?” And while only 29 percent said they agree with the President’s “daang matuwid” campaign, 34 percent are ambivalent, “which means they have an open mind,” he said.

He did not elaborate on what the “controversies” and “difficulties” were, although he mentioned the particular issues besetting the nation at the time the survey was conducted, which, he said, were responsible for the negative results on the administration’s tireless gospels on good governance.

The issues include the President’s request for emergency powers to cope with the looming power crisis, the transmittal to Congress of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, calls for the resignation of Purisima amid the prevalence of crimes involving policemen, the foiled bombing attempt on the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the current Senate inquiry into the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building II, calls from some congressmen to impeach Vice President Jejomar Binay, the dismissal by Congress of impeachment complaints against Mr. Aquino, and the suspension of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, who is facing plunder charges at the Sandiganbayan.

Lacierda declined to say whether Mr. Aquino’s defense of Purisima had taken a toll on the administration. “The President also said he’s not exonerating Purisima. All he is saying is, Let’s give the person a chance to defend himself, and he is doing that,” Lacierda said.

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With all these difficulties piling up all at the same time, the administration appears to be overwhelmed by the pressure. Its responses reveal that it is alarmed at the erosion of the credibility of its centerpiece governance program—the “straight path.”

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TAGS: amando doronila, Analysis, Benigno Aquino III, daang matuwid, Government, opinion, pulse asia, survey
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