Executive Secretary is finding it hard to understand why the Filipino people do not like Gloria Arroyo despite her working so hard, traveling all over the country doling out crumbs from the billions of pesos that she rakes in from the citizenry.

Following the release of the SWS survey for the period June 27 to 30 where dissatisfaction over how Arroyo runs the country was reflected in an all-time low rating of -38 , Ermita said, “Of course people have to wonder why after the many things that she is doing for the well-being of our citizens that that should still be the perception.”

Ermita is wrong. People do not wonder because they know and they feel it. It’s the economy, stupid.

(The phrase, “It’s the economy, stupid” was used widely during Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 presidential campaign against George H.W. Bush, father of the current U.S. President. Coined by campaign strategist James Carville, the phrase harped on bad shape of the U.S. economy at that time which they blamed on Bush’s mismanagement. )

Ermita cannot understand it because he does not bother with the pesos and centavos of survival. He should listen to the lament of housewives whose P1,000 can no longer buy enough of her family’s basic needs. He should listen to a taxi driver whose choice is either to ply the streets and earn barely enough to pay for gasoline and his “boundary” fee with almost nothing for his family, or stay at home and see his family go hungry. He should see the children rummaging garbage bags for plastic materials they can sell to buy food during hours when they are supposed to be in school.

“Let the people be judge of GMA,” Ermita said.

The survey score is the people’s judgment. The reality is, majority of the Filipino people do not like Arroyo.SWS is one of the reputable survey firms and its integrity is much, much higher than the Commission on Elections who gave Arroyo dirty votes in the 2004 elections.

It’s worthy to note that the survey was taken during the last two days of Arroyo’s visit to the United States while the country was reeling with the devastation wrought by typhoon Frank. On the last day of the survey period, Arroyo was already back in the country and had resumed her dole outs in typhoon-ravaged provinces.

It just shows that the people are not fooled by her charity act using funds that contribute to making daily life a difficult struggle.

People see VAT as a curse and for Arroyo to take pride in the P8 billion windfall and her tax collectors getting bonuses for it is criminal. It’s unforgivable.

The poor know how to make the connection between the 12 per cent VAT and the increase in jeepney and bus fares. They know the connection between VAT and the increase in prices of rice, fish, meat, sugar, milk and other basic goods.

Why would the “lifeline users”, those who are the lowest consumers of electricity, thank her when she makes them go through the hardships and humiliation of queuing for hours just to get their P500 instead of just deducting it from their Meralco bills? Why would they be grateful to her when they know very well that the money she is doling out is the people’s money which should not have been collected in the first place?

The demand is for her to scrap the VAT which contributes to the upward spiraling of prices of everything. But Arroyo will not do that because her greed makes her think people are stupid. She has not grasped the degree of the people’s distrust and anger towards her.

Malaca