MANILA, Philippines — Nearly seven in 10 Filipinos continue to distrust President Gloria Arroyo despite her efforts at a charm offensive before she steps down this year, according to a survey released Wednesday.
The figure of 68 percent of respondents who said they distrusted Arroyo is the highest since she took over from deposed president Joseph Estrada in 2001, Pulse Asia said in releasing the results of its survey.
The results came a day after the Supreme Court cleared Arroyo to run for a seat in parliament in the May national elections, in a move many believe is aimed at trying to remain in power.
Arroyo is required by the constitution to step down as president this year.
But critics believe Arroyo intends to become a congresswoman as a step towards having the constitution rewritten to shift the nation's form of government from presidential to parliamentary.
She would then seek to become the nation's first prime minister, her critics allege.
A popular revolt backed by the military installed Arroyo as president in January 2001, replacing the graft-tainted Estrada.
She won a hotly contested second term in 2004, but her nine years in office have been marked by allegations of massive corruption and three failed military coup attempts.
Arroyo's popularity took a further beating when members of a Muslim clan she had supported in the restive south were accused of masterminding the massacre of 57 people in November to eliminate a rival's political challenge.
In recent weeks, Arroyo has embarked on a charm offensive, visiting influential media establishments and inviting foreign journalists to dinner at the presidential palace after snubbing them at official functions for three years.
She has also had advertisements placed in the press promoting her economic achievements and other legacies. (AFP)