67 percent of Filipinos against charter change – Pulse Asia

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 16) — Around two out of three Filipinos remain opposed to amending the Philippine constitution, results of a survey released Monday by independent pollster Pulse Asia showed.

The pollster said its survey last month found 67 percent of respondents are against amending the charter — three percentage points higher than the results of its March survey.

Thirty-seven percent of the respondents said the Constitution should not be amended at all, while 30 percent are open to the idea of a charter change in the future. Only 18 percent believe it should be amended right away.

The survey asked 1,800 registered voters from June 15 to 21 if the 1987 Constitution should be "amended or not amended at the time" of the survey. The nationwide survey has a + or - two percent error margin at 95 percent confidence level.

"Public opinion on this issue is virtually the same in March and June 2018," Pulse Asia said. "During the period March to June 2018, the overall level of support for charter change now declines (-5 percentage points) while public opposition against it now and in the future becomes more notable (+5 percentage points)."

The survey also found that 28 percent are in favor of shifting from the current unitary form of government to a federal system for the Philippines, reflecting a one percentage point increase from 27 percent in March.

There are also slightly less respondents opposed to the shift to federalism. In March, 66 percent rejected the shift to a federal government, but in June, it was down to 62 percent.

However, 69 percent  — or almost 7 out of 9 Filipinos — admitted to having little to no knowlegde of the proposed federal system of government.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said they will strive to educate the public further on federalism.

"We cannot expect our people to support an initiative, which they know only little about. There is clearly much work to be done in terms of spreading awareness and knowledge on the aforementioned issue," he said in a statement.

Senator Grace Poe said there should be a thorough study and intense debate on the effects of the proposed shift to federalism so lawmakers can make an informed choice. She said she will block a hasty approval.

"A document as important as the basic law should be rigorously studied, and not railroaded. I will block any Cha-cha express, especially one driven by people with expiring terms and fueled by selfish interest," she said in a statement.

Poe added, "There is no palpable popular clamor for a new Constitution, and neither is there proof that a brand new one is the magical cure-all to the country's manifold problems."

Meanwhile, Senator Kiko Pangilinan said the survey results show ordinary citizens do not see the use for a federal government.

"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," he said.

Rep. Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna warned those pushing for "self-serving" Charter change that "the message is very clear: better stop it now or, face the peoples' wrath."

Related: Pulse Asia: Majority of Filipinos oppose charter change

Both Houses of Congress have received the copy of the proposed federal charter. The draft, crafted by Consultative Committee tasked to review the 1987 Constitution, includes the revised provision requested by President Rodrigo Duterte to have an elected transition president.

Senate President Tito Sotto earlier said that charter change is not a priority of the upper chamber. The Senate has yet to decide whether there is a need to amend the Constitution, and if so, whether it will be done by a constitutional convention or a constituent assembly

The shift to a federal form of government was among Duterte's campaign promises, saying it would pave the way for more equitable distribution of wealth and political power and bring peace in Mindanao.