By Hannah Torregoza
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.
Drilon said he hopes the leadership of both the Senate and the House of Representatives should take into account the latest survey results, particularly of Pulse Asia, which shows that 67 percent of Filipinos are opposed to Charter change.
“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.
The Pulse Asia survey showed that 67 percent of the people are against current moves to change the Constitution. Of the 67 percent, 37 percent disapprove changing the Charter now and in the future, while 30 percent do not like it happening under the Duterte administration but are open to Charter change in the future.
The survey, conducted from June 15 to 21, also showed that 62 percent are not in favor of federalism, while 28 percent favors it.
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 Rodrigo 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 thro 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.
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.
“Hanapan na lang natin ng solusyon ang tumutinding pagtaas ng presyo, imbis na pilitin ang Cha-cha at No El sa taumbayan.
Unahin sana ng administrasyon ang interes ng pamilyang Pilipino, at hindi lang ng mga pulitiko (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.