• Federalism and 2019



    THIS is my third successive column on federalism. First was the need to consider transitions, second was on asset mapping so we are able to establish the comparative advantages of the 81 provinces. This time around, we present the module on federalism in Pahayag, an independent, nationwide, omnibus survey by Publicus Asia Inc.

    Field work was done on August 7 to 9 using computer-aided personal interviews, or CAPI. A total of 1,500 respondents were interviewed from key cities nationwide. Pahayag asks leaders (elected or appointed) about where they are on a given issue. Two affective measurements were also introduced in the survey, both highlighting the importance of emotional quotient in leaders. These affective metrics are decisiveness and love, care and solidarity index (LCSI).

    Focusing on federalism, 67 percent have not read, heard or watched about federalism and only 33 percent read, heard or watched anything on the proposal. Among those aware, only 51 percent do not know or understand fully the concept of federalism. In terms of main source of information about federalism, TV remains tops at 89 percent, followed by radio (35 percent), newspaper (27 percent) and social media (20 percent). Interestingly, attended a meeting about it in our place registered a low 3 percent and asking experts was just at 1 percent.

    Respondents were likewise asked their opinions on certain issues: 60 percent of voters want to directly vote for their president; 59 percent favors a semi-presidential form of government, where there is a president who is head of state and a prime minister who is head of government; 53 percent of voters are for equal election of two senators in each region and only 40 percent favors a vote for the president to be also a vote for the vice president.

    Sixty-nine percent of voters agree that there is poverty because of the way government allocates limited resources. This is high in NCR at 73 percent, followed by Mindanao at 71 percent. Other statements tested were: 57 percent believe that their governor or mayor has the capability to perform more powers if the country shifts to a federal system. Fifty-five percent believe politics will change in a federal, semi-presidential form of government. Fifty-one percent of respondents believe that political dynasties can control elections in a federal system and 46 percent believe that life will improve if we shift to a federal system. In these tests, Mindanao registered the highest belief, while South Luzon area had the lowest belief ratings.

    On the question of how would they want the shift to a new form of government to happen and when should the Constitution be changed, only 36 percent would want government to shift to a federal form right away, with Mindanao having the highest support at 55 percent. While 66 percent want the constitutional change to happen before 2019, under the term of PRRD. Mindanao registered the highest support at 81 percent.

    How do respondents want the shift to happen and when is the effective initial division of regions in a federal system of government? Sixty-four percent of respondents said there should be a transition when the government shifts to a federal form so that the change is orderly. The highest support on transition came from South Luzon at 84 percent while Mindanao registered the lowest at 45 percent. Mindanao consistently wants to shift immediately and the least to favor any transition.

    Mindanao though supports more an island federal division so that it is financially viable at 63 percent while nationally it is at 43 percent. Following the present regional division is supported by North and Central Luzon at 45 percent. While letting it be according to the agreement of cities that they are going to group together is supported more by respondents from South Luzon at 39 percent and Visayas at 37 percent.

    Much work remains to be done in the push for federalism. The many groups going around and pushing their own sets of views and agenda do not serve in making federalism clear to all. There are no strategic and communications plans. A political party rolling out federalism forums use these events as recruitment activities which muddle the issues needing attention. Groups touching base with political parties and organizations have not passed on what they have learned to the grassroots. It appears federalism is an elite concept that is only shared among political officials and their networks. The other side, the voters, appear to have clear positions in certain things they believe in, such as a direct vote for president and splitting vote for president and vice president. A full federalism dipstick is crucial in getting the voice of the people reflected in the proposed revision of the Constitution. But timelines are also important because most would want changes to happen before 2019.

    And this is where the trick is. Come 2019, various groups (overt and covert) in the country will team up to trounce PRRD who is not a member of the PDP. The declaration by Mindanao against Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is a telltale sign of an implosion. PDP is divided into three groups today: the Alvarez wing, Pimentel wing and the Cusi wing. Cusi is closely identified with the Arroyos.

    The Liberal Party has been trying to remove a duly elected President since Day 1, using all sorts of schemes. Smugglers, jueteng lords, drug lords and syndicates in government have huge war chests for 2019.

    Who will stand with PRRD to change politics come 2019? Who can he rely on to get the right people elected and get the agents of change elected come 2019? PRRD needs real allies in Congress and the local governments to end strong going into 2022 and leverage the gains from 2016-2019 for the most important pick come 2022.

    Will federalism and the BBL be kidnapped by the political realignments or political implosions?

    Duterte threw out the playbook and rewrote the game in 2016. Who will be the insurgents going into 2019 and those among the Duterte anointed who understand how the underdog advantage is primed. As has been said time and time again, “let it be borne on the flag under which we rally in every exigency, that we have one country, one constitution, one destiny.”


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