7 in 10 Pinoys against charter change

Published July 16, 2018, 11:24 AM

by AJ Siytangco

By Ellalyn de Vera Ruiz

Seven in 10 Filipinos are against efforts to change the 1987 Constitution, the latest Pulse Asia survey results showed.


The nationwide survey conducted from June 15 to 21 among 1,800 respondents found 67 percent opposing charter change.

The 37 percent oppose changing the 1987 Philippine Constitution now and in the future, while 30 percent are against it at present but may be open to it sometime in the future, the study showed.

The rest of Filipinos either support charter change now (18 percent) or are undecided on the matter (14 percent).

Overall support declines

During the period March to June 2018, Pulse Asia explained that the overall level of support for charter change has declined by five percentage points, while public opposition against it now and in the future became more notable (+5 percentage points).

“Big pluralities” in Metro Manila (40 percent), rest of Luzon (40 percent), Visayas (43 percent) and Class D or “masa” (38 percent) are against charter change now and in the future.

About the same percentages of those in Class E either reject it now and in the future (32 percent) or oppose it now but may be supportive of it in the future (30 percent).

In Mindanao and upper-to-middle Class ABC, nearly the same percentages oppose charter change now but may be open to it in the future (34 percent and 30 percent, respectively), support it now (28 percent and 25 percent, respectively), or reject it now and in the future (26 percent and 38 percent, respectively).

From March to June 2018, support for charter change now declined among those in Metro Manila (17 percentage points), while opposition became more pronounced in Visayas (+15 percentage points) and poorest Class E (+12 percentage points).

More specifically, opposition to changing the country’s charter now and in the future became more manifested among those in Visayas (+15 percentage points).

Against shift to federal system

The survey also showed that a shift to a federal system of government is rejected by six in 10 Filipinos (62 percent).

Thirty-four percent oppose it now and in the future and 28 percent are against it now but may be open to it in the future.

With the exception of Mindanao (45 percent), majority levels of opposition to federalism now are recorded across geographic areas and socio-economic classes (56 to 72 percent and 54 to 68 percent, respectively).

Meanwhile, 28 percent of Filipinos are supportive of a shift to a federal form of government now and ambivalence on the matter is expressed by 10 percent of Filipinos.

While a “bare majority” of those in Mindanao (51 percent) back moves to shift to a federal government now, a “big plurality” of those in the rest of Luzon (41 percent) are against such a change now and in the future.

About the same percentages in Metro Manila, Visayas, and Class ABC are in favor of federalism now (23 to 34 percent), oppose it now but may be open to it in the future (24 to 43 percent), or reject it now and in the future (25 to 34 percent).

In Class D, basically the same percentages either reject federalism now and in the future (35 percent) or oppose it now but may be open to it in the future (28 percent).

In Class E, nearly the same percentages either support a shift to a federal government now (36 percent) or oppose such a move now and in the future (33 percent).

At the national level, Pulse Asia noted that public opinion on the matter of shifting to a federal government is practically unchanged between March and June 2018.

However, a few changes may be noted in Metro Manila and Mindanao.

Support for shifting from a unitary system to a federal one eased in Metro Manila (-19 percentage points), while it became more pronounced in Mindanao (+18 percentage points).

Also in Mindanao, the level of opposition to such a shift taking place now went down (-20 percentage points).

More specifically, opposition to changing the system of government to a federal one now and in the future became less manifested (-19 percentage points).

Intensify info campaign

The government intends to intensify the public information campaign about federalism after the survey showed majority of Filipinos opposed moves to amend the 1987 Constitution.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque recognized that much work needs to be done to raise public awareness about proposed shift to a federal government since people have little knowledge about it.

“The Palace takes note of the results of the latest Pulse Asia survey on Charter change and Federalism showing 18 percent of respondents agreed that the Constitution should be amended now and 28 percent of respondents in favor of changing the system of government in the country to federalism,” Roque said.

“There is clearly much work to be done in terms of spreading awareness and knowledge on the aforementioned issue. We will therefore exert even more effort to inform and educate our citizens about federalism since the approval of the proposed changes in our current Charter ultimately lies in the hands of the Filipino people,” he added.

In citing the need for intensified information drive, Roque pointed out that the survey showed only 55 percent of respondents have heard, read, or watched anything about the proposals to change the 1987 Constitution before the survey was conducted. Another 69 percent of respondents admitted little awareness of the proposed federal system of government, he added.

“For this reason, we cannot expect our people to support an initiative, which they know only little about,” Roque said.

Blaming administration allies

Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon on Monday blamed administration allies over the rising number of Filipinos who are opposed to proposals to amend the 1987 Constitution.

“The Filipino people have spoken out against attempts to change the Constitution. The leadership of both houses of Congress must take into account this overwhelming sentiment of the people,” Drilon said.

“There is no one else to blame for the rising opposition against Charter change but the very people advocating for it, particularly those in Congress, who muddled the issue and are planning to use Charter change to suspend the election and extend their term.

Drilon said the fact that opposition to Charter change increased in the last quarter despite the aggressive campaign and information drive for the past months speaks of the people’s strong opposition towards amending the charter.

The minority leader has repeatedly warned that allies advocating the shift to a federal form of government are out to pursue a “no-election” scenario in the May 2019 elections.

He said postponing elections means that on July 1, 2019, when terms of elected officials expire, President Duterte can appoint 12 senators, all congressmen, all governors, all mayors, and all local officials.

“The survey only confirms that, even if Congress rushes the procedure and passes a new charter that will pave the way for a federal form of government, people will reject it,” said Drilon.

“So, why rush it when the resources and efforts that Congress – and the government – put into this charter change movement can be channeled to other urgent matters affecting our countrymen such as inflation, unemployment, and rising criminality?” he pointed out.

Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, for his part, said that for ordinary citizen, charter change and federalism not only taste bad, but are also not useful and satisfying.

“The people will throw up force-fed no-election and Chacha (charter change). This is because the people don’t see the benefit of these in their everyday struggle against higher prices of goods, lower value of their earnings, traffic, and the continuing violence in the streets,” Pangilinan said.

“We hope they don’t test the patience of the people by forcing Chacha, or the administration’s approval rating may fall further and their candidates may taste defeat in the coming elections,” he added.

Rising cost of basic needs

Sen. Paolo “Bam” Aquino IV echoed Pangilinan’s sentiment:

Nakakahiya naman sa taumbayan na habang nalulunod sila sa taas ng presyo, ay Cha Cha at No-El ang inuuna ng gobyerno (Isn’t it shameful for the people that while everyone is having a hard time coping with the rising cost of basic services and commodities, they are making Charter change and the postponement of the elections their priority),” Aquino lamented.

Why don’t they just find solutions to the rising cost of commodities instead of insisting Charter change and No-El to the people. I hope the administration prioritizes the interest of the Filipino family and not politicians, he said. (With reports from Genalyn Kabiling and Hannah Torregoza)