Public awareness on Federalism

September 22, 2018

AMID the growing public discourse on the envisioned shift to a Federal form of government, Radio Veritas (the Catholic Flagship Radio Station in the Philippines) just recently released its latest Veritas Truth Survey (VTS) on the Issue of Federalism.  Such social survey focused on two primary questions: (1) Respondent’s awareness on possible effects of federalism on our country once it is implemented; and (2) If they were ready to agree on the implementation of federalism although they were not familiar on the possible outcome of this possible change.

This survey was conducted in the National Capital Region including the nearby provinces of Bulacan, Antipolo, Laguna and Cavite with a total of 1,200 Respondents for a +/- 3% margin of error.  Such face to face survey was done through a random sampling of respondents; and was focused on the aforementioned areas because with the amount of public information being circulated on the issue of Federalism (being the capital region of the country) within this “target locale”, the level of public awareness can be gauged accordingly in relation to the rest of the Philippines.

The result of the survey would reveal that only 47% of the respondent stated that they are aware of the possible outcome once the federalism has been implemented; while 28% said that they do not know what is going to happen if federalism is put into action.  The remaining 25% on the other hand said that they “somewhat” (or to some extent) know its outcome.  When segmented among gender, male respondents at 52% are more aware of the possibilities when federalism is implemented compared to their female counterparts whose awareness is at 38%.

Further analysis likewise reveals that when segmented by age group that the younger the respondents were the more aware they are on possibilities once the federalism is implemented; whose awareness percentage are as follows: Teens (13-20 years old)-53%; Young Adults (21-39 years old)-45%; Adults (40-60 years old)-40%; and Elderly (61 years old and above)-36%.  

As to Economic Class the data would suggest (to some extent due to a slight variation in the results among Class A & Class B respondents, though generally belongs to the Upper Class of our society) that the higher economic class one belongs to, the higher the possibility that one would be aware of things that would happen once federalism is implemented.  Such awareness level by economic class is as follows: Class E-36%; Class D-39%; Class C2-43%; Class C1-45%; Class B-63%; and Class A-58%.

Considering therefore such low awareness level from these respondents from MEGA-MANILA (who to some extent has the greater chance of being exposed to the necessary information to know the possible outcome once the federalism has been implemented), how can we expect that those living in remote rural areas in other parts of the country be fully aware of this issue and rightfully give their opinion on this regard.

The Veritas Truth Survey likewise presented another question that ascertains one’s willingness to implement federalism without their full knowledge of its possible outcomes.  Only 23% of the respondents agree while 56% said they disagree with federalism if they don’t fully understand it.  The remaining 21% were still confused whether they want to agree or to disagree. 24% Male and 22% Female respondents said they agree without the fully understanding federalism while 54% male and 58% female disagrees.  The remaining 22% male and 20% female respondents were still confused not indicating a choice if they agree or disagree.  Such results are thus indicative that without the sufficiency of awareness towards federalism, a majority would not want any implementation to take place.

In Conclusion, let us be guided once again by CBCP’s official response to Federalism when it advices that:

“The reported objective of Charter change is to shift from a unitary to a parliamentary form of government in various shapes that would govern federal states. It is often claimed that there is a necessity of devolving powers from the central government to Federal States.

We ask the question: is it necessary to change the Charter in order to devolve power? Many constitutional and legal experts do not seem to think so. What is truly needed for a genuine devolution of power according to them is a full implementation of the Constitution, the creation of enabling laws, and some revisions on the Local Government Code, and a more decisive effecting of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act. Only these, they believe, can ensure that self-determination and decentralization of powers, both political and financial, are in fact realized.

Moreover a major objection to a federal system that devolves power to the Federal States on an equal basis will not satisfactorily address the aspirations of the Muslims and Lumads in Mindanao for self-determination and respect for ancestral rights.”

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