Majority of Filipinos oppose Charter change, says survey

Two in three Filipinos are not in favor of the current administration’s moves to change the 1987 Constitution, a Pulse Asia survey released Monday, July 16, revealed.

Pulse Asia’s June 2018 National Survey on Charter Change, taken from June 15 to June 21, showed that 67 percent of Filipinos were against Charter change. Out of that percentage, 37 percent disapproved changing the Constitution now and in the future while 30 percent were not up for it at present but may be open for Charter change in the future.

Meanwhile, only 18 percent were in favor, and the remaining 14 percent were undecided on the matter.

The survey also showed that 62 percent or six in 10 Filipinos are against the proposed shift to a federal system of government. Out of that percentage, 34 percent were opposing it now and in the future and 28 percent were being against it at present but may be open to it in the future.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the lack of information regarding federalism could explain why it is unpopular among Filipinos.

“For this reason, 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 on Monday, July 16.

“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.

The survey was done two weeks before the Consultative Committee (Concom)  submitted its final draft proposal for a federal constitution to President Rodrigo Duterte.

“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),” Pulse Asia said.

The survey showed big pluralities in Metro Manila (40 percent), the rest of Luzon (40 percent), the Visayas (43 percent), and Class D (38 percent) are not in favor with 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 its in the future (30 percent). In Mindanao and 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),” Pulse Asia said.

The survey also showed how the support for Charter change now declined among Metro Manilans (-17 percentage points) while opposition became more pronounced in the Visayas (+15 percentage points) and Class E (+12 percentage points).

“Almost seven out of 10 Filipinos (69 percent) have at best a low level of knowledge about the federal system of government that is being proposed by charter change advocates,” Pulse Asia said. “From March to June 2018, the only significant change is the increase in the percentage of Metro Manilans with little/almost no/no knowledge at all about the proposed federal system (+15 percentage points) and the consequent decline in the percentage of Metro Manilans with at least enough knowledge about it (-15 percentage points).”

It also noted that a small majority of Filipinos (55 percent) report awareness of proposals to change the country’s charter. This overall level of awareness is higher than the March 2018 figure (49 percent).

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected]

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