Malacañang’s spokespersons reacted quite hysterically to the SWS survey showing that president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo holds now the record for the most unpopular leader ever. Marcos’ record here, of course, is speculative (although someone from that regime who was party to the internal surveys that Marcos did said he never reached the -38 percent difference that GMA has).
They illogically echoed each other, chorusing that “it is the people who will decide the popularity of the president, not surveys.” As if the ones surveyed are not a cross-section of and scientifically representative of the people. They then proceeded to accept the result, saying “it is the president’s role to make the right decisions, even if unpopular.”
The reaction is to be expected. The GMA administration is in the midst of trying to create the proper environment for a charter change–suspected to prolong her stay in power beyond 2010. The survey is the worst news to come because of its implications.
One, there is little chance that people will believe anything they say. A huge credibility gap is bared by the survey. In the case of cha-cha, the federalism argument (or any other argument) certainly will be viewed with suspicion as long as GMA remains in power.
Two, her political vulnerability has been exposed. It is now a matter of anybody getting rid of her–the people will approve of it. Her allies are as much a suspect as her enemies–the post-GMA scenario beckons to all. It is also a matter of immediate political necessity rather than waiting for 2010 elections.
Three, the road to a political reconciliation with the people is almost closed. The series of dips in her popularity cannot anymore be attributable to political maneuvers of the opposition. It is now a definite trend, with more than half of the people firmly against her. The people themselves are bringing out the message that they want her out. On hindsight, she squandered so many opportunities for making right her place in history and in the people’s heart–after EDSA 2, when she announced her decision not to run in December 2002, and after the Garci tapes controversy slackened off.
If the 2010 elections comes and GMA is still in Malacañang, every candidate identified with her will lose. Today, she may well lose her seat. The option now staring her in face is to kill off Philippine democracy or to kill her own presidency.