DILG laments misleading information on federalism

July 17, 2018

Amid growing awareness on the administration’s campaign for constitutional reform, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) cries foul over misleading information spreading about federalism.

“I am not surprised over the deluge of misinformation circulating today about federalism. Now that awareness is spreading, there have been attempts from some groups to counter our efforts by spreading misleading information on proposed constitutional reform,” says DILG Assistant Secretary Jonathan E. Malaya.

Malaya cites the recent Pulse Asia survey on the increasing public awareness on constitutional reform.

“Upon closer inspection, the Pulse Asia survey actually shows that more people nationwide know about the proposals to change the 1987 Constitution,” says Malaya.

According to the Pulse Asia survey results released yesterday, awareness on constitutional reform has increased to 55% in June from 49% in March. “This is clear evidence that our public awareness efforts have been gaining traction and yet we have just begun,” he says.

The DILG Spokesperson explains that the Consultative Commission just submitted its draft federal constitution to President Duterte last month. “In fact, we just began our federalism roadshow last month in Dumaguete City so the fact that awareness already increased since the last survey is encouraging to us. However, we still have a lot of areas to cover,” he says.

While the survey reveals a positive trend on awareness, Malaya laments the way Pulse Asia crafted the rest of its survey questions as it leads to misleading information on the people’s support for federalism.

“The survey states that 69% know little or nothing about the proposed federal system of government. And that’s understandable because ConCom just finished its draft federal model. But to claim that majority oppose federalism when only 69% understand it is not only contradictory but illogical," says Malaya.

“The questions in the survey were crafted in such a way that makes it seem that Filipinos are vehemently against federalism. In fact, the survey does not even show whether or not people are actually for or against federalism,” he says.

Instead of asking clear-cut questions like ‘Are you in favor of Constitutional Reform? Yes, No, or Don’t Know?’, Pulse Asia made the choices ‘Yes, Now,’ ‘No, not now,’ ‘Never,’ and ‘Don’t know.’

According to Malaya, while the survey reveals that only 18% wants to change the 1987 Constitution now, it also shows that 30% say the constitution may be amended in the future or a total of 48% are actually open to the possibility of Constitutional reform.

“This leaves only 37% who are adamantly against constitutional reform and we can work on the remaining 14% who are undecided to decide in favor of charter change,” he says.

In the same vein, the survey shows that 56% are actually in favor of the shift to federalism now or in the future, and only 34% are against it now or in any other time, he says.

“They interpreted the results unfairly because they considered the 28% who said that the system may be changed in the future as giving a no to federalism, when in fact, this segment of the population are actually open to reforms,” Malaya explains.

This, therefore, serves as a challenge that the DILG is willing to meet. “We just began our campaign. Now that the Consultative Committee has submitted its draft to the President, we expect support for federalism to increase once President Duterte endorses the proposal during his State of the Nation Address on July 23,” Malaya says.

During the conduct of fieldwork for the Pulse Asia survey on June 15-21, the DILG likewise began its roadshow for federalism.

The DILG has been roaming the country to spread awareness on federalism and has so far taken the roadshow to Dumaguete, Baguio and Legazpi where Concom also conducted its regional consultations. The DILG intends to visit all regions of the country before the year end.

After the President’s endorsement of the proposal, Congress is expected to deliberate on Concom’s model for a federal shift. This will then be followed by a plebiscite to approve the proposed amendments to the Constitution.