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Survey spurs roadshow

‘Plan B’ adopted after Aquino’s speech fiasco

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III’s decision to mount a provincial roadshow to explain his Disbursement Acceleration Program was the direct result of panic over a confidential survey that showed the President’s approval rating plunging to 35 percent in Metro Manila last October, a Palace source said Wednesday.

The roadshow is also aimed at countering a people’s initiative launched by former Chief Justice Reynato Puno seeking to abolish all forms of pork barrel, the source added.

The Palace insider insisted that the poll was conducted by Pedro Laylo Jr., despite the pollster’s statement Wednesday attacking the Manila Standard story.

Laylo’s statement denied that he was commissioned by the Palace, but did not deny that he conducted such a survey.

“Our commissioned survey projects are private and confidential; results of which are not meant to be published,” Laylo said. “We do not comment on survey results leaked through rumors and hearsay.”

But the findings of the survey were leaked to the Manila Standard by the Palace source over the weekend.

“There was a survey done and the field work was undertaken on Oct. 8 to 11 among 800 respondents and Laylo was the survey company,” the Palace source insisted. “The Palace, the President and the inner circle of the President are aware of the results of the survey. And then the Palace started to panic.”

The provincial roadshow to explain DAP was “Plan B” after the President’s nationally televised speech turned out to be a PR disaster, the source said.

Plan B also includes dialogues with anti-pork groups, which have given the President a Dec. 6 deadline to abolish all pork barrel, including his own discretionary funds.

The #AbolishPork group, headed by retired Lingayen Archbishop Oscar Cruz, the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and Makabayan announced a series of massive protest rallies to demand the scrapping of all forms of pork barrel, including the off-budget and discretionary funds of the President.s

Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes said anti-pork rallies will be held today, Nov. 7, Nov. 11, Nov. 13 and culminate on Nov. 30, Bonifacio Day.

Today, Reyes said, the anti-pork rallies will be held at the Senate where the alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam, Janet Lim Napoles, is set to testify.

On Nov. 11, the group will be at the Supreme Court, where oral arguments on the legality of the DAP are slated.

The #ScrapPork Network, which wants the President to give up his own discretionary funds, on Wednesday welcomed the Palace offer for a dialogue, saying it was a step in the right direction.

The Palace source said the provincial blitz on DAP was the President’s idea.

“The President believes he did no wrong in the dispersal of the DAP funds. He insists that the disbursement was done judiciously and so he wanted to bring the issue directly to the people by wanting to do that provincial roadshow,” the Palace source said.

The president’s spokesman, Secretary Herminio Coloma on Wednesday also denied commissioning the survey.

“Our position remains unchanged: We did not commission any study. Hence, we have no basis for commenting on issues arising from any study about which we are not aware,” Coloma told the Manila Standard on Wednesday in a text message

He also said he was not aware of any such survey.

“Majority of the allegations came from that survey, how can I give a fair comment if the premise was not there?” Coloma added.

The survey findings, leaked to the Manila Standard, showed that the President’s satisfaction rating among the E class at only 26 percent in October.

Coloma also brushed aside the idea that the administration was worried about a decline in Mr. Aquino’s popualrity rating, saying the Palace was focused on “their job to help uplift the lives of the Filipino people.”

In the House of Representatives, the President’s allies, including Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Assistant Majority Leader Karlo Alexei Nograles, pooh-poohed the results of the internal survey, but his critics said they reflected the growing discontent with the Aquino administration.

“It clearly shows that Malacanang has already unraveled itself,” said Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon. “It coddles crooks allied to itself and unconstitutionally usurps constitutional powers, as in the DAP.”

Reps. Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna and Luz Ilagan of warned the President his popularity would continue to decline if he refused to heed the public’s call to abolish the pork barrel system.

“The writing on the wall is already clear: The Filipinos are already angry with corruption and patronage politics,” Zarate said.

“The President should listen to the Filipino people,” Ilagan said.

But Belmonte said he doubted the veracity of the survey.

“I never heard of that survey, and I am trying to verify if t exists at all,” the Speaker said.

Nograles and AKO-Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe also doubted the survey results.

“From the ground, I can sense that the President’s popularity has remained high,” Nograles said.

He said that the controversy over DAP that is hounding the Aquino government is already

with the Supreme Court; and that the people should give the President the benefit of the doubt.

Batocabe said that the President’s popularity may have dropped but not as drastically as reported.

He said a decline in popularity is only natural “because you cannot please everybody.”

House Deputy Majority Leader Sherwin Tugna said whether the survey results are true, the President needed to work harder to restore the people’s trust in his “straight path” agenda.

He added that a decline in his ratings was expected, since he is in the second half of his term.

Senate President Franklin Drilon, whose approval rating declined dramatically after the pork barrel scandal broke, said Wednesday he was confident that President Aquino and the Senate would regain the lost trust and confidence of the people, once those who stole from the nation’s coffers are punished. – With Maricel V. Cruz and Macon Ramos-Araneta

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