Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms. This piece was published in the September 09, 2009 edition of the Business Mirror, page A6.

It is God who puts ideas in my heart. – Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

Reacting to the latest Pulse Asia Survey showing that his boss continues to enjoy dismal trust and approval ratings, Cerge Remonde blamed the “relentless barrage of attacks by the opposition against the President.”

I guess Remonde was referring to attacks stemming from the relentless barrage of scandals starting with the Impsa Deal all the way to Macapagal Blvd., Fertilizer Scam, OWWA Funds, PhilHealth Cards, NorthRail, SouthRail, NBN-ZTE, CyberED, EO 464/MC 108, Hello Garci, 2007  Election, Bastardization of Institutions, Bribery of Local Officials, Bribery of Church Officials, Extra-judicial Killings, Enforced Disappearances, Immoderate Greed, Treason, Cronyism, Obstruction of Justice,  Indiscriminate Use of Public Funds, Spratleys Deal, Venable Contract, PSC Horse Importation, Road User’s Tax, TRANSCO Bidding, Protection of Smugglers, Jueteng Pay-offs, and the Swine Scam, to name just a few. (List lifted from blogger Schumey of the Philippine Experience.)

So I sympathize with Remonde. He is besieged. Gloria Arroyo stands accused of more transgressions in any given year than her predecessors, Ramos and Estrada, were accused of in their entire terms. Remonde’s job is not easy, he has to defend the indefensible. And he has to do it in English.

Anyway, how does Gloria Arroyo deal with all the distrust and disapproval?

“As we all know, the president is a very prayerful person. She attends Mass, goes to confessions every day. And I think this is where she draws strength from. I think this is what enables her to weather all of these problems,” said Remonde.

And he went on to tell politicians that Malacañan would appreciate those who follow Gloria’s example.

“We will appreciate other political leaders who would adopt this attitude of prayerfulness, specially when having to make major decisions. This is something that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been doing, not only since day one of her presidency, but I think in all the days of her life.”

And so Noynoy Aquino, not necessarily because of Remonde’s suggestion, went to Zamboanga to pray with the Carmelite Sisters before making a major decision.

And what did Remonde’s subaltern have to say about that?

“We respect whatever gimmickry, whatever ways on how he can arrive at a decision,” said deputy mouthpiece Anthony Golez.

He added, “If that is part of his spiritual strategy, then I can call it a strategy. Our leaders will always have forward planning and they think 10 steps ahead of us. It’s how they plan.”

So it’s prayerfulness if it’s Gloria doing it but political gimmickry if it’s Noynoy.
But I’m glad Golez didn’t repeat what Ignacio Bunye once said of Corazon Aquino’s prayerfulness – “Which God is she praying to?” – to attack Noynoy’s motive for going on a spiritual retreat.
The Carmelite Sisters pray to a God who stands for truth, honesty, justice, and fair play, so resurrecting Bunye’s infamous snipe at Cory would only revive the question about who is telling Gloria that it’s okay to lie, cheat, and steal.
Going back to Remonde blaming the relentless attacks of the opposition for Gloria’s dismal ratings, I suppose Gloria could have saved herself, and the opposition, a lot of trouble and grief, if she had simply stayed honest. But I guess God has not gotten around to putting that idea in her heart.

So, who’s to blame for the low approval and trust ratings?