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Pulse Asia Research, Inc. is pleased to share with you some findings on Charter Change from the March 2018 Ulat ng Bayan national survey. We request you to assist us in informing the public by disseminating this information.

The survey fieldwork was conducted from March 23 to 28, 2018 using face-to-face interviews.

The following are among the key developments that preoccupied Filipinos during the month of March 2018:

1. The quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida before the Supreme Court (SC) seeking to remove SC Chief Justice Maria Lourdes A. Sereno by questioning the validity of her appointment on the basis of her alleged failure to fully disclose her personal wealth; for her part, SC Chief Justice Sereno, who went on an “indefinite leave” beginning 01 March 2018, said the only way she can be removed from office is through impeachment as provided for by the 1987 Philippine Constitution; several militant lawmakers and concerned citizens have called on the SC to dismiss the petition which they consider to be unconstitutional;

2. The approval by the Committee on Justice of the House of Representatives, through a vote of 33-1, of its report which finds probable cause to impeach SC Chief Justice Sereno for culpable violation of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, betrayal of public trust, and corruption; Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III has assured the SC Chief Justice of a fair trial should the impeachment trial materialize; calls for her resignation have been made by several groups of judges and court employees but these have been rejected by SC Chief Justice Sereno because resigning would only erode the High Court’s independence;

3. The order of Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to cancel the 20 December 2017 resolution by DOJ prosecutors to dismiss the drug charges against Peter Lim, Rolando Espinosa, Jr., and Peter Co; a new panel of prosecutors has been formed to review the original resolution and receive new evidence submitted by all concerned parties;

4. The Philippines’ withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) following what President Rodrigo R. Duterte referred to as the “outrageous” attacks made by some officials of the United Nations (UN) against his anti-illegal drugs campaign; nonetheless, critics say, this move does not mean that the ICC’s investigation into the Duterte administration’s “war on drugs” will automatically cease;

5. The provisional acceptance into the witness protection program of Ms. Janet Lim-Napoles, who is being tried for plunder in connection with the P 10-B pork barrel scam; the latter requested for a transfer from the custody of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology to the DOJ because of reported intimidation, harassment, and threats against her; the DOJ’s clarification that should Ms. Napoles become a state witness in possible new cases, this would not exonerate her from her involvement in the pork barrel scam;

6. The recommendation made by an inter-agency government task force to close Boracay Island for a 6-month period beginning 26 April 2018 to allow for environmental rehabilitation efforts to be carried out in the area; resorts owners in other provinces pledged to carry out similar initiatives following the closure recommendation;

7. The filing of plunder charges against former Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles and retired Senior Supt. Wenceslao Sombero, Jr. in connection with the alleged attempt to extort P 50 M from a gambling tycoon in 2016;

8. The President’s support for joint exploration or “co-ownership” of the West Philippine Sea between the Philippines and China which, according to maritime law experts, would be tantamount to giving up the country’s claims over disputed territories in the area if such initiatives are not governed by Philippine laws;

9. The granting of subpoena powers to the PNP Chief and the top officials of the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), through the President’s signing of Republic Act No. 10973, with the objective of speeding up criminal investigations; human rights groups criticized the move which they fear will only lead to more abuse on the part of the police particularly in connection with its role in the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs;

10. The continuing hearings on fake news at the Senate which saw Senator Grace Poe and Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque clashing over the lawmaker’s proposal to prohibit government officials and state employees from spreading fake news; the Palace Spokesperson said that the bill, among others, violates equal protection under the law because it singles out those in government for spreading fake news;

11. Former President Benigno S. Aquino’s appearance before the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in connection with the preliminary hearing regarding the charges of electioneering filed against him arising from his administration’s dengue vaccination program;

12. The apology issued by Facebook Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Zuckerberg over the data breach involving more than 50 million Facebook accounts and which allowed a UK-based data mining and analytics company to make use of such data in connection with the electoral campaign of United States (US) President Donald J. Trump in 2016; and

13. In economic and financial news, the increase in oil prices prior to the Lenten break following remarks by Saudia Arabia’s Energy Minister regarding the need for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allied producers to coordinate supply cuts until 2019; the 5.85% decline in the Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) for the month of March 2018 due to global trade concerns and increasing interest rates; the increase in the headline inflation rate by 3.9% between January and February 2018 (based on 2012 prices), the fastest increase since August 2014, as a result of the rise in the prices of food and beverage as well as alcoholic beverages and tobacco products; and the increase in the power rates of the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) due to greater demand for electricity as the summer season begins.

As in our previous Ulat ng Bayan surveys, this nationwide survey is based on a sample of 1,200 representative adults 18 years old and above. It has a ± 3% error margin at the 95% confidence level. Subnational estimates for each of the geographic areas covered in the survey (i.e., Metro Manila, the rest of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao) have a ± 6% error margin, also at 95% confidence level. Those interested in further technical details may refer to our website (www.pulseasia.ph)

Pulse Asia Research’s pool of academic fellows takes full responsibility for the design and conduct of the survey, as well as for analyses it makes based on the survey data. In keeping with our academic nature, no religious, political, economic, or partisan group influenced any of these processes. Pulse Asia Research undertakes Ulat ng Bayan surveys on its own without any party singularly commissioning the research effort.

For any clarification or questions, kindly contact Dr. Ana Maria Tabunda, Research Director of Pulse Asia Research at 09189436816 or Ronald D. Holmes, Pulse Asia Research President at 09189335497 (via mobile, Viber, or Telegram) or at ronald.holmes@gmail.com (via email.)

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Awareness of proposals to change the 1987 Philippine Constitution is reported by 49% of Filipinos; about one out of four Filipinos (23%) are in favor of charter change now

Almost the same percentages of Filipinos are aware or not aware of proposals to change the 1987 Philippine Constitution now (49% versus 51%). Majority levels of awareness are posted in Metro Manila (52%), the rest of Luzon (56%), Class ABC (60%), and Class D (51%). In contrast, most of those in the Visayas (66%), Mindanao (53%), and Class E (65%) have not heard, read, or watched anything about the recent charter change proposals in the country. (Please refer to Table 1.)

It may be recalled that in July 2016, a lower level of awareness of charter change proposals was recorded by Pulse Asia Research (41%). At this time, the only majority awareness figure in the different geographic areas and socio-economic classes was posted in Class ABC (57%). However, back in September and November 2014, most Filipinos said they knew about moves to change the 1987 Philippine Constitution (61% and 60%, respectively). Furthermore, majority awareness levels are registered in virtually all geographic areas and every socio-economic class both in September 2014 (55% to 70% and 63% to 77%, respectively) and November 2014 (64% to 67% and 51% to 67%, respectively). The only exceptions are Mindanao (49%) and Class E (48%) in September 2014 and the Visayas in November 2014 (38%).

At the time of the conduct of this survey, 64% of Filipinos are not in favor of amending the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Of this total, 32% say they are open to charter change sometime in the future but not at present and 32% are completely opposed to any amendments, whether now or at any other time. In all geographic areas and most socio-economic classes, majority levels of opposition to charter change now are recorded (58% to 71% and 61% to 68%, respectively). Half of those in Class E (50%) share this sentiment. In contrast, 23% of Filipinos are supportive of charter change now while the rest (13%) are ambivalent on the matter. (Please refer to Table 2.)

Public support for charter change now eases during the period July 2016 to March 2018 (-14 percentage points) while opposition becomes more pronounced (+20 percentage points)

The overall level of support for amending the 1987 Philippine Constitution declines between July 2016 and March 2018 (-14 percentage points). Similar movements occur in Metro Manila (-13 percentage points), the rest of Luzon (-15 percentage points), Mindanao (-23 percentage points), Class D (-15 percentage points), and Class E (-11 percentage points). Opposition to charter change becomes more notable during this period not only at the national level (+20 percentage points) but also in Metro Manila (+17 percentage points), the rest of Luzon (+29 percentage points), Mindanao (+22 percentage points), and Class D (+24 percentage points). In particular, the percentage of Filipinos who are absolutely opposed to charter change (i.e., those against charter change now not at any other time) increases by 17 percentage points, with similar movements occurring in Metro Manila (+17 percentage points), the rest of Luzon (+27 percentage points), Mindanao (+14 percentage points), Class D (+19 percentage points), and Class E (+16 percentage points). With respect to indecision, the only notable change between July 2016 and March 2018 occurs in the rest of Luzon (-13 percentage points). (Please refer to Table 3.)

Three (3) out of every four (4) Filipinos (75%) have little/almost none/no knowledge at all about the 1987 Philippine Constitution; knowledge levels have not changed between July 2016 and March 2018

In March 2018, 75% admit to knowing little or having almost/completely no knowledge of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Sizable to big majority figures are registered across geographic areas and socio-economic classes (70% to 82% and 63% to 82%, respectively). Of the total figure (75%), 42% report having little knowledge and 34% have almost none/no knowledge at all. Nearly to exactly half of Metro Manila (50%), Mindanawons (49%), and those in Class D (44%) have little knowledge while about the same percentages of those in the rest of Luzon, the Visayas, and Classes ABC and D have either little or almost none/no knowledge at all (31% to 44% versus 31% to 39%). (Please refer to Table 4.)

Among those with at least enough knowledge of the 1987 Philippine Constitution (25%), 21% have a sufficient amount of knowledge while only 4% claim to know a great deal. Virtually the same figures are posted across geographic areas and socio-economic classes, with sufficient knowledge levels ranging from 16% to 25% and 15% to 28% while great knowledge levels range from 2% to 5% and 3% to 9%, respectively). These figures do not differ in any significant way from those obtaining in July 2016. (Please refer to Tables 4 and 5.)

Most Filipinos admit to having little/almost none/no knowledge at all about the proposed federal system of government (71%)

A big majority of Filipinos (71%) know little/almost none/nothing at all about the federal system of government that is being proposed by several government officials and various private groups and individuals. Of this figure (71%), 43% have little knowledge while 27% have almost no/no knowledge at all about the proposed system of government. Lack or absence of awareness is reported by most Filipinos across geographic areas and socio-economic classes (62% to 79% and 64% to 75%, respectively). Big pluralities in most geographic areas and all socio-economic groupings (41% to 45% and 42% to 50%, respectively) have little knowledge while nearly the same percentages in the rest of Luzon  have either little or almost no/no knowledge at all about the proposed federal system (45% versus 34%). (Please refer to Table 6.)

In contrast, 29% of Filipinos say they have a great deal or sufficient amount of knowledge about the issue, with 22% having enough knowledge and 7% claiming to know a great deal about the proposed federal system. In the different geographic areas and socio-economic groupings, sufficient knowledge levels vary from 14% to 34% and 21% to 32%, respectively. Meanwhile, the percentages of Filipinos who know a great deal about the matter range from 1% to 18% and 4% to 8%, respectively.

A sizeable majority of Filipinos (66%) are not in favor of changing the present system of government to a federal system now

The prevailing sentiment among Filipinos is one of opposition to replacing the present unitary system of government with a federal one (66%). Majority levels of opposition are posted in each geographic area and socio-economic class (54% to 75% and 60% to 71%, respectively). More specifically, 36% of Filipinos are against changing the system of government regardless of the timing of such change while 30% are opposed to changing it now but may be open to it sometime in the future. Sizeable to big pluralities in Metro Manila (34%) and Mindanao (40%) are against such a shift in the system of government, whether now or in the future. About the same percentages of those in the rest of Luzon, the Visayas, and all socio-economic groupings are either not in favor now but may be open to a shift sometime in the future (32% to 36% and 25% to 34%, respectively) or are completely opposed to changing the system of a federal one (28% to 39% and 35% to 37%, respectively). (Please refer to Table 7.)

The rest of Filipinos are either supportive of the change to a federal system (27%) or are ambivalent on the matter (6%). Levels of support range from 17% to 42% across geographic areas and from 25% to 36% in the different socio-economic classes. Support for federalism is more marked in Metro Manila, the Visayas, and Mindanao (33% to 42%) than in the rest of Luzon (17%). In the meantime, levels of indecision on the matter range from 2% to 9% and from 4% to 7%, across geographic areas and socio-economic groupings.