Leave it to Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita to make the “impassioned defense” for the belaguered President (Inquirer.net report, 7/20/08). The defense comes following the Social Weather Stations survey where Gloria Arroyo was the most unpopular President since Ferdinand Marcos. The Executive Secretary, who strikes me as a fanciful name for the Presidential stooge, says:
“We must always do what is right, we must act … in a way that will address the problems of our countrymen, and not what is necessarily popular because one can be popular but it does not necessarily mean that what one is doing is right.”
Pardon my ignorance and my impertinence, but I always had this idea that the Presidency is supposed to be a popularity contest. We live in a popular democracy where the President is the one who gets the most votes. Last I checked, it was the fact that Arroyo probably did not get the most votes in the 2004 national elections that became the continuing question to her mandate. I know it’s an old issue, but it’s an old issue that begs answers; one of the reasons why we find it so difficult to oust GMA is because there is reason to believe that she is not actually the President.
I have to agree with Sec. Ermita that the people, not surveys, judge the President’s worth. Again, pardon my ignorance and my impertinence, but the last time I checked, the Social Weather Stations (or any survey company for that matter) does not ask questions to galunggong swimming around in a bucket, asking politically-inclined fish about their opinion of the President. The survey is a tool to gauge the impression people get about the President. It makes for a good social experiment: someone has to go to the queues for NFA rice, the MRT, or to those banks that release P500 subsidies to the poor and, well, ask them.
Come to think of it, you can turn Ermita’s defense on its head. While one’s popularity does not necessarily lead to right decisions, the right decisions actually make for a popular President. It’s easy to explain why Arroyo is not popular: she hasn’t exactly been the poster girl for making the right political and economic decisions, which makes her not the poster girl for popularity.
She does make for a poster girl for everything else, in the literal sense of the term.