Filipinos Overwhelmingly Oppose Charter Change: Survey Reveals Strong Resistance to Amending the 1987 Constitution

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The strong opposition to amending the 1987 Constitution reflects the deep-rooted concerns and reservations of the Filipino people. The constitution, which was ratified after the ousting of the Marcos dictatorship, is widely regarded as a symbol of democracy and safeguard against potential abuses of power. Its provisions, such as the protection of civil liberties and the separation of powers, have been instrumental in ensuring the stability and progress of the country.
The survey results indicate that the majority of Filipinos are satisfied with the current constitution and see no need for amendments. This sentiment is particularly evident in the significant increase in opposition between March 2023 and March 2024. The nationwide increase of 43 percent reflects a growing awareness among the populace of the potential risks and consequences of constitutional amendments.
The strong opposition to constitutional amendments is not limited to one particular region or demographic. The survey reveals that the sentiment cuts across different areas of the country, with opposition ranging from 31 percent to 58 percent. This indicates a widespread and unified stance against any changes to the constitution.
The decline in support for proposals to amend the constitution is also noteworthy. The 33 percent decrease compared to the previous year highlights the diminishing appeal of such proposals. Only a small fraction, 8 percent, of respondents expressed their favor for amending the constitution. This further underscores the overwhelming majority who are against any alterations to the foundational document of the nation.
The reasons behind the strong opposition to constitutional amendments are varied. Some argue that amending the constitution could open the door to potential abuses of power and undermine the democratic principles enshrined in the current document. Others believe that the focus should be on addressing pressing issues such as poverty, corruption, and inequality rather than engaging in constitutional debates.
In conclusion, the latest survey conducted by Pulse Asia reveals a resounding opposition to amending the 1987 Constitution among the Filipino people. The significant increase in opposition, the widespread nature of the sentiment, and the decline in support for amendments all point to a strong desire to preserve the current constitution as a cornerstone of Philippine democracy.

Specific Concerns of Filipinos

Aside from opposing constitutional amendments, the survey also revealed that a majority of Filipinos have concerns regarding the exploitation of natural resources by foreigners, foreign ownership of residential and industrial lands, and the removal of limits on stocks in Philippine corporations that foreign individuals and corporations can own.

Specifically, 86 percent of respondents opposed allowing foreigners to exploit natural resources, while 81 percent were against foreign ownership of residential and industrial lands. Additionally, 78 percent of respondents opposed the removal of limits on foreign ownership of stocks in Philippine corporations.

These concerns stem from the fear of losing control over their own resources and the potential negative impact on the local economy. Filipinos value their natural resources and believe that they should be managed and utilized in a way that benefits the country as a whole, rather than being exploited by foreign entities for their own gain.

Furthermore, the opposition to foreign ownership of residential and industrial lands reflects the desire to preserve Filipino heritage and culture. Filipinos take pride in their land and believe that it should be owned and controlled by Filipinos themselves. Allowing foreigners to own these lands may lead to the loss of cultural identity and the displacement of local communities.

Similarly, the resistance to the removal of limits on foreign ownership of stocks in Philippine corporations is rooted in the concern that it may lead to a loss of economic sovereignty. Filipinos worry that allowing foreign individuals and corporations to own a significant portion of Philippine businesses may result in a loss of control over key industries and decision-making power.

Another significant finding of the survey was that 74 percent of respondents expressed their desire to shift from a bicameral to a unicameral system of government. Moreover, 71 percent opposed shifting the political system from presidential to parliamentary, changing the present unitary system of government to a federal one, limiting the prohibition of foreign ownership on communications, and allowing foreigners to own equity in mass media and advertising.

Public Perception of Charter Change Initiatives

The survey also asked respondents about their awareness and participation in the people’s initiative petition to amend the 1987 Constitution. Only 7 percent of respondents reported being given the petition, with 76 percent stating that they did not sign it and 24 percent confirming that they did sign it.

Among those who signed the petition, 55 percent claimed that they were not given any incentive, while 45 percent reported receiving an incentive. This finding suggests that the use of incentives to gather signatures for charter change initiatives may not have a significant impact on public support.

The low percentage of respondents who reported being given the petition indicates that there is a lack of awareness and outreach regarding the people’s initiative petition. This could be attributed to various factors, such as limited distribution channels, inadequate communication strategies, or simply a lack of interest among the general public.
Furthermore, the fact that 76 percent of respondents did not sign the petition suggests a general lack of enthusiasm or support for charter change initiatives. This could be indicative of a larger sentiment among the public, where they either do not see the need for constitutional amendments or are skeptical about the motives behind such initiatives.
The finding that 55 percent of those who signed the petition did not receive any incentive is interesting. It implies that a significant portion of the public may be willing to support charter change initiatives without any external motivation. This could be attributed to a genuine belief in the need for constitutional amendments or a strong sense of civic duty.
On the other hand, the fact that 45 percent of signatories reported receiving an incentive raises questions about the integrity and authenticity of the signatures gathered. While incentives can be a legitimate tool to encourage participation, there is a risk that it may lead to the manipulation of public opinion or the gathering of insincere signatures.
Overall, the public perception of charter change initiatives appears to be mixed. There is a lack of awareness and participation, indicating a need for better communication and outreach strategies. Additionally, the use of incentives may not significantly sway public support, highlighting the importance of genuine public engagement and a transparent process in constitutional amendments.

Differing Perspectives on Survey Results

Act-Teachers Representative France Castro responded to the survey results by emphasizing that the majority of Filipinos do not want charter change and that the government should prioritize addressing other pressing problems.

On the other hand, Kabataan Party-list Representative Raoul Manuel pointed out a different survey conducted by Tangere, which indicated that 52 percent of respondents were in favor of charter change. Manuel questioned the methodology used by the survey, which relied on a mobile app to gather responses, suggesting potential issues with the reliability of the data.

While it is important to consider multiple perspectives and methodologies when interpreting survey results to gain a comprehensive understanding of public opinion, it is also crucial to scrutinize the details of each study. The Pulse Asia survey, for instance, involved 1,200 respondents and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percent, providing a statistically significant representation of the Filipino population’s sentiment regarding constitutional amendments.

However, the survey conducted by Tangere, as highlighted by Representative Manuel, raises valid concerns about the methodology employed. Relying on a mobile app to collect responses may introduce biases, as not all segments of the population may have access to or be inclined to use such technology. Additionally, the sample size and representativeness of the respondents in the Tangere survey are not explicitly mentioned, which further adds to the potential limitations of the study.

Therefore, while the Pulse Asia survey provides valuable insights into the general sentiment of Filipinos towards charter change, it is necessary to acknowledge the existence of differing perspectives and methodologies. This acknowledgment allows for a more nuanced analysis of the survey results and a better understanding of the complexities surrounding public opinion on constitutional amendments.

Source: The Manila Times

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