But 73% admit little to no knowledge of 1987 Charter – Pulse
FOUR out of every 10 Filipinos oppose changes to the 1987 Constitution, a new survey has found, amid conflicting views in Congress over how to overhaul the nearly 30-year-old Charter.
The survey by Pulse Asia, conducted on July 2 to 8 among 1,200 respondents, showed that 44 percent of Filipinos opposed Charter change, while 37 percent were in favor of it. Nineteen percent were undecided.
Opposition to Charter change was softer compared with the previous survey in November 2014 when 49 percent of respondents said they were not in favor of changes to the Constitution, but the five-point difference is not conclusive given the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Pulse Asia also found that 73 percent of its respondents had “little or no knowledge” about the Constitution despite a big plurality saying they were opposed to changing the country’s basic law, revealing the extent of information dissemination needed to educate citizens.
Of the 44 percent opposed to changing the Constitution, 29 percent said the Constitution should not be amended now, “but it may be amended sometime in the future,” while the 15 percent said it “should not be amended now nor any other time.”
Forty-one percent of respondents said they have heard, read or watched something about the proposals to change the Constitution over the past few months.
Even among those aware of the proposals to amend the Charter, 56 percent had little or no knowledge of the 1987 Constitution.
Form of govt
The July survey also showed that 37 percent of respondents were opposed to the proposal to change the country’s form of government to parliamentary from presidential, while 33 percent were in favor and 30 percent could not say whether or not they support such a change.
Pulse Asia explained to respondents that under a parliamentary system, the head of government will be a prime minister who will be chosen by legislators.
Those who are in favor of changing the present unitary or centralized system of government to a federal system accounted for 39 percent of respondents, while 33 percent were against it and 28 percent were undecided.
Pulse Asia explained to its respondents that under a federal system, “there will be several states in the Philippines with the power to enact their own laws and manage their own local or regional government without much control or intervention by a national government.”
“The national government will have authority over the state governments only in matters relation to national citizenship, foreign affairs, national defense, a national currency and commercial exchanges between and among the nation’s states,” it added.
The shift to federalism, which will devolve more powers to local governments, is one of the priorities of President Rodrigo Duterte, the country’s first Mindanaoan leader, who believes that the setup will put an end to the violence and underdevelopment plaguing Mindanao.
Duterte initially preferred to amend the 1987 Constitution through a Constitutional Convention, wherein elected delegates would recommend changes to the Charter.
The President, however, had a change of heart last week and now favors the convening of a Constituent Assembly, wherein lawmakers would deliberate on and approve Charter amendments.
Reacting to the survey results, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd expressed optimism that more people will be converted into supporting Charter change once discussions on the issue formally start.
“I look at the 56 percent. We can convert the 56 percent to support Cha-cha so I’m hopeful that when we start talking about it people can be converted,” he said.
Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon said Filipinos were clearly divided over the issue and thus it would be too early to make a definite reading.
“Given the margin of error, this is almost a statistical tie, and shows the people are equally divided on the issue,” he said in a text message.
Charter change is not a “gut issue” and that people are more concerned about crime and poverty rather than constitutional amendments, Drilon said.
WITH JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA