Corruption was Gloria's biggest mistake: survey

By David Dizon,

Posted at Aug 04 2010 01:28 PM | Updated as of Aug 05 2010 04:03 AM

MANILA, Philippines - One out of every 4 Filipinos believes that corruption during former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's rule was her biggest shortcoming after 9 years in power, a new Pulse Asia survey revealed Wednesday.

The survey, conducted last July 1 to 11 or after Mrs. Arroyo stepped down from office, showed that 26% of Filipinos believe corruption was Arroyo's biggest mistake.

Corruption as Arroyo's biggest failing was top of mind for all respondents from all geographic areas and socio-economic classes except for Class E respondents, who said it was inflation.

Corruption was decried by at least 32% of Metro Manila respondents and 30% of Visayan respondents. It was also cited by 35% of Class ABC respondents, 27% of Class D and 21% of Class E.

Pulse Asia said the survey question "What was the greatest shortcoming or mistake that former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has done during her 9 years in office?" was open ended, and responses were collated by interviewers. A total of 1,200 respondents participated in the nationwide survey.

Fourteen percent of Filipinos said corruption in general was Arroyo's biggest mistake, another 9% said it was the botched national broadband deal with China's ZTE Corp. while 3% cited the P728-million fertilizer fund scandal. The last two scandals are just some of the corruption scandals linked to the Arroyos.

Meanwhile, 17% of Filipinos said Arroyo's failure to control inflation was her second biggest mistake as president. At least 25% of Class E respondents identified this as Arroyo's greatest failing, compared to 21% for corruption.

Thirteen percent of Filipinos criticized Arroyo her for excessive travel and/or excessive spending of government funds--her third biggest mistake--while another 11% cited the "Hello, Garci" wiretapping scandal as Arroyo's biggest mistake.

The "Hello, Garci" scandal linked Arroyo to an alleged conspiracy to rig the 2004 presidential election and sparked the biggest political crisis in her administration.

Eight percent of Filipinos, meanwhile, cited Arroyo's failure to provide jobs for the poor, which was one of her promises in a previous State of the Nation Address.

Other shortcomings of Arroyo that were cited by respondents were: failure to resolve the Maguindanao massacre (3%), failure to reduce poverty (2%), failure to provide scholarships (1%), did not sign the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain (1%), involvement in jueteng (1%), increase in foreign debt (1%), lack of credibility of Cabinet members (1%), and increase in value-added tax (1%).

Some respondents also criticized Arroyo for not punishing or for tolerating anomalies of her husband, First Gentleman Mike Arroyo; for grabbing the presidency from Joseph Estrada; for not implementing land distribution, and, for letting Mike Arroyo run the government.

Infrastructure deemed Arroyo's legacy

In the same survey, 43% of Filipinos said the upgrading of public infrastructure such as airports and seaports was Arroyo's greatest achievement after 9 years in office.

Majority of Class ABC (53%) and Metro Manila (54%) respondents cited infrastructure improvements as the former President’s biggest achievement, while big pluralities in the other geographic areas (40% to 45%) and socioeconomic groupings (40% to 44%) also did the same.

Less than one in 10 Filipinos cited other achievements of the former president such as improving access to education (6%), providing assistance to victims of natural calamities (4%), providing assistance to the poor (4%), providing health insurance (3%), providing jobs (2%), ensuring peace and order (2%), improving the welfare of soldiers and law enforcers (1%), and increasing the pay of workers (1%).

However, about a quarter of Filipinos (26%) did not cite any meaningful achievement of former President Arroyo.

Leaves office with little trust

The survey also showed Arroyo left the presidency last June with record low trust and performance ratings.

The Pulse Asia survey showed 62% of Filipinos dissatisfied with Arroyo's performance in her last 3 months in office, compared to 16% who approve and 22% who were undecided.

Disapproval was highest among Metro Manila (67%) and Class E (64%) respondents.

On the other hand, Arroyo scored the highest approval rating from the Visayas (27%) and those from Class ABC (21%).

The survey showed that a majority of Filipinos (67%) distrust Arroyo, compared to 13% who trust her and 20% who are undecided.

Pulse Asia said there are essentially no changes in the overall trust ratings of former President Arroyo from April to July.