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Aquino revs up media machine

MANILA, Philippines—Don’t be surprised if Malacañang starts trumpeting the administration’s achievements to high heavens.

Following a survey showing that President Benigno Aquino III’s net satisfaction rating had plummeted by 13 points from +64 to +51, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Mr. Aquino had given his communication team the go-signal “to be more aggressive in promoting the good news from the administration.”

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“P-Noy said that sometimes we are too shy because people might say we are tooting our own horn (baka sabihin nagbubuhat ng sariling bangko),” Valte, speaking in Filipino, said Sunday on state radio dzRB.

“So bear with us if we will now be thick-faced about it (kung kakapal ang mukha namin),” she said.

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During a visit to Iloilo City on Friday, Mr. Aquino was asked by reporters what he intended to do with his dipping approval ratings. The President cited the things his administration had done but admitted its shortcoming was it never crowed about them.

He vowed to work “in the education aspect” of informing the people, with the help of his spokespersons, about the government’s achievements.

More aggressive

Valte said the Palace communicators would “maximize the use of all our resources, not only government television and radio … We will be maximizing all resources available to us.”

She disagreed with suggestions that the Palace communication group was to blame for the low ratings, but she said the communicators were taking the survey “as a sign to be really more aggressive in promoting the President” and his programs.

She said this was not for the President’s spokespersons alone to do and that Cabinet secretaries and their public information offices could also lend a hand.

“It cannot be just a job of three but everybody has to pitch in to make sure the good news [reaches] the people,” she said.

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The other day, Valte also said on state radio: “We have a very Filipino trait of being too shy to boast.”

Not popularity contest

Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said the drop in the President’s rating should not influence his decisions.

“Leadership is not a popularity contest. The administration should not be guided by surveys in implementing pro-people policies and programs,” Evardone said, noting that the drop in Mr. Aquino’s performance rating was expected considering that he started from an unusually high base.

“This government must continue to pursue sound [even if] unpopular initiatives,” he said.

Evardone said Mr. Aquino’s communication group, led by Secretaries Herminio “Sonny” Coloma and Ramon “Ricky” Carandang, should bear the blame for failing to fully report the President’s initiatives to the public.

“This (drop in ratings) should serve as a wake-up call to the information team of this administration to get their act together,” Evardone said, alluding to the supposed turf war between the camps of Coloma and Carandang.

‘Miscommunication’

House Deputy Minority Leader Milagros Magsaysay said Malacañang’s propaganda machine could only do so much.

“His ‘miscommunication group’ will just mouth the President: garbage in, garbage out,” she said.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro Casiño said: “There’s a limit to what you can do with PR when you have a mediocre product.” With reports from Norman Bordadora and Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.

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