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GMA’s PR men working hard to recover her ratings

- Marichu A. Villanueva () - September 27, 2002 - 12:00am
Malacañang has called in the spin doctors to help shore up President Arroyo’s sagging image in recent months, starting with a series of "info-mercials" being aired in both private and government-owned or sequestered television networks.

The series went into high gear as Mrs. Arroyo’s public satisfaction rating took a dip in the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey. Her rating fell to 18 percent from Aug. 24 to Sept. 8 from a high of 28 percent in early August.

Presidential publicists led by Dante Ang and the Office of the Press Secretary-Philippine Information Agency (OFP-PIA) have come out with a separate series of infomercials featuring the latest and the biggest of Mrs. Arroyo’s pet projects.

But unlike Ang’s previous ads that featured well known stars of the silver screen and entertainment, the new infomercials — produced in conjunction with the Kapisanan ng Brodkaster ng Pilipinas — have unknown talents seemingly plucked off the street.

"The good old days are still here with us!" starts one positive ad spot where a smiling elderly woman looks out of the window of her house and relishes the thought of seeing her husband with a higher palay yield from his farm.

Ang pointed out that this was just meant "to remind us that the ‘good old days’ are still here because we have so many negative thinking people." The commercial started airing last Tuesday, or before news of Mrs. Arroyo’s dip in popularity came out.

"Some of our political leaders paint a gloom and doom scenario. But the truth is the Philippines is still a nice and good country," he explained.

Ang also said the latest campaign adopts a subtler approach. "Mas malambot ang dating," unlike the previous efforts at hardsell where the President made personal appeals to the people.

This time the two-minute ad spiels feature her reciting catalogue-style her administration’s accomplishments, and one of the scenes even include Mrs. Arroyo diving in Tubattaha Reef, ostensibly to underscore her environment protection program.

At the end of this particular infomercial, a smiling President is shown conducting a meeting and it fades out with her removing her eyeglasses and smiling as she looks out at something.

Ang sidestepped questions though where the funding came from for this particular infomercial except that it was a private sector initiative. There were no producer credits shown.

In the case of the infomercials produced by the OPS-PIA-KBP, testimonials were done by obscure actors in the role of poor folks in Metro Manila who seem convinced of the benefits they get from various pro-poor projects.

Another infomercial features Transportation and Communications Secretary Leonardo Mendoza in a scene with an unknown actor playing the role of a construction worker who has to rush back home after learning his child has suffered from an asthma attack.

The worried father is shown rushing home by the Metro Rail Transit, because it is a faster and cheaper mode of public transport, and as he gets home he is greeted by his wife who has already bought the medicine needed by using savings from reduced electric bills.

At the end of these TV spots, Mrs. Arroyo comes out talking while walking through the Palace, emphasizing that these government programs were being implemented because she cares for the Filipino family.
ARROYO DANTE ANG AND THE OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY-PHILIPPINE INFORMATION AGENCY METRO MANILA METRO RAIL TRANSIT MRS. ARROYO PRESIDENT ARROYO SOCIAL WEATHER STATIONS TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS SECRETARY LEONARDO MENDOZA TUBATTAHA REEF
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