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Alvarez says gov't must work harder to educate Filipinos on charter change

MANILA, Philippines – Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, an advocate of federalism, is unfazed by the latest Pulse Asia survey showing that majority of Filipinos are against charter change. 

Instead, the Davao del Norte 1st District representative said the survey results must encourage the government to intensify efforts to explain to the public why the Duterte administration is pushing for federalism. 

"The survey finding that 3 out of every 4 Filipinos, or 75%, have little/almost none/no knowledge at all about the 1987 Philippine Constitution tells us very clearly that we must come together and intensify the  information, education, and communication campaigns throughout the country to tell our people that we must revise the 3-decade-old Constitution to make it responsive to changing times," said Alvarez in a statement. 

President Rodrigo Duterte himself has been championing a shift to federalism, where the country will be divided into autonomous states that will be left in charge of their own laws, finances, development, education, and culture, among others.

The President had argued that federalism would decentralize power and wealth away from "Imperial Manila" and further empower the rest of the regions. Alvarez, an ally of Duterte, shares this belief. (READ: Will federalism address PH woes? Pros and cons of making the shift

"Our advocacy of the federal system is anchored on our firm belief that by giving the regions greater leeway in terms of powers and resources, we can unleash their potential to contribute to overall economic growth and social development for the long term," said Alvarez.

The view of the President and Alvarez, however, is not shared by most of the respondents of Pulse Asia. (READ: Changing the Constitution: What are being proposed so far

A total of 64% oppose amending the 1987 Constitution. Of this figure, 32% said they are "open to charter change sometime in the future but not at present." Another 32% said they are "completely opposed to any amendments, whether now or at any other time."

Plans have long been underway to shift to federalism, however. Duterte's 19-member Consultative Committee (Con-Com) is already reviewing the 1987 Constitution and proposing amendments.

The Con-Com is confident more Filipinos would support charter change once the proposed amendments are formally presented to the public.

A subcommittee of the House panel on constitutional amendments also created its own list of proposed constitutional amendments to pave the way for federalism. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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