Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Still plunging

By Jojo Robles 
President Noynoy Aquino, in his Easter Sunday message, proudly compared the supposed gains of his administration to the Resurrection of Christ. After the latest survey results on the people’s satisfaction with government were released yesterday, I think it’s safe to say that Aquino’s administration hasn’t even completed its descent into the hell of unpopularity and irrelevance yet.
And the results of the Social Weather Stations survey are even damning than the last poll conducted by its main polling rival, Pulse Asia. Using SWS’ method of subtracting the polled disapproval from the approval to come up with a net rating, Aquino’s satisfaction rating has already hit an all-time low of plus-11 percent; this compares to the net plus-15 percent approval rating polled by Pulse Asia, which released the results of its poll in the middle of last month.
The confirmation provided by SWS has foreclosed any attempt by the Aquino administration to spin its flagging popularity by downgrading the latest poll as a glitch, a “snapshot” of its popularity at a most unfortunate – and unrepresentative – time. In other words, Aquino and his propaganda geniuses can no longer take refuge in the defense that the President’s popularity is not on a downward spiral; because, quite simply, it is.
So Malacanang decided to line up the usual suspects and – to no one’s surprise, really – it decided to blame the media. And because the latest surveys were also taken in the aftermath of the Mapasapano Massacre and the wrongheaded insistence by the administration of pursuing the Bangsamoro Basic Law that will grant virtual self-rule to the killers of the 44 slain PNP commandos, its peace negotiators have also joined the chorus of heaping the blame on the press.
It all lines up quite nicely for the Aquino administration, except for two minor things. One, the theory assumes that the people are so stupid that they will believe whatever the media tells them, and two, that this government,  supposedly the most media-savvy that we’ve seen in decades, does not have media assets way beyond the humongous resources that the palace already has in-house.
The inconvenient and increasingly incontrovertible truth of the matter seems to be that Aquino has lost his grip on what his bosses want. And that if he continues on listening only to his closest advisers and his own uniformed instincts, then he will lose whatever connection with the people that he has left.
Only then can Aquino and his administration claim to have risen from the dead. For the moment, the plunge continues.
* * *
Speaking of the pits, the Land Transportation Office has absolutely no right to impose rules supposedly to fix a problem when it caused the problem in the first place. I know that LTO now claims that it has not been remiss in making license plates available to car owners who want them; the reality, as any car owner will tell you, is way different.
The truth is, the release of car plates – as well as sticker tags, drivers’ licenses and all the other things that one requires from LTO – have never been as delayed as they have been under this government. And that’s because LTO, for reasons that only LTO knows, cannot seem to do its job.
Now LTO says it will arrest drivers using vehicles with no license plates and slap them and the vehicles’ owners with hefty penalties for doing so. Left unmentioned is that fact that people have been driving cars that were once new but which are almost about to break down without even having been issued plates.
Of course, the law says that no vehicle should be allowed on the road without license plates. But what do you do if the reason why your car has no plates – or even LTO official receipts or certificates of registration – is because the government still hasn’t issued them to you?
By the way, the two-tiered penalty LTO wants to impose on plate-less vehicles is so ridiculous that it should win an award. I’m talking about the P10,000 fine LTO wants to collect from the owners of cars with no plates, which will be reduced to P5,000 if they are able to produce copies of the OR-CR; in what universe is it right for government to collect fines because it has been incompetent – and then to collect lesser fines because, in some cases, it was actually less incompetent than usual?
And before I forget, why does LTO want to change all existing license plates with the new, ugly white ones (at the motorists’ expense, naturally) that it is proffering? Previous administrations came up with their own versions of vehicular plates, yes – but they never touched the old ones, allowing their owners to wear them as long as their vehicles were in use.
Perhaps the P450 fee charged by LTO for new plates for all the millions of motor vehicles in the country has something to do with this. All those billions are enough to make anyone’s head spin and defend the indefensible – which is what LTO is doing right now.

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