OCTA poll: Only 1 percent believe Cha-cha is urgent

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
OCTA poll: Only 1 percent believe Cha-cha is urgent
Shoppers experience the holiday rush as they flock to Divisoria in Manila on December 23, 2023.
STAR / Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — Only one in every 100 Filipinos identified Charter change as an urgent national concern in a recent survey conducted by the OCTA Research group.

Out of the 18 issues provided to the respondents of OCTA’s non-commissioned Tugon ng Masa survey conducted on Dec. 10 to 14 and released yesterday, only one percent selected changing the Constitution as among their top three most urgent national concerns, indicating that it is not a priority for them.

Like in the previous surveys, controlling inflation or the rise in prices in basic goods remained the most urgent national concern of the respondents, with 73 percent selecting it as among their top three.

This was followed by access to affordable rice, vegetables and meat (45 percent), creating more jobs (36 percent), improving the wages of workers (34 percent) and reducing poverty (32 percent).

Also rated were providing free and quality education (15 percent), fighting graft and corruption (13 percent), promoting peace and order (10 percent), fighting criminality (eight percent), equal enforcement of the law (seven percent) and reducing the amount of taxes (six percent).

Obtaining less than five percent were protecting the welfare of OFWs (four percent), preparing for a terrorist threat (four percent), stopping the destruction of the environment (four percent), defending Philippine territory (three percent), controlling the spread of COVID-19 (three percent) and controlling population growth (three percent).

Some respondents also wrote in their own answers, with lowering the cost of electricity and fighting illegal drugs obtaining less than one percent.

“In December 2023, the urgency of controlling the increase in prices of basic goods and services persists among adult Filipinos. There is a substantial increase from 52 percent in July 2023 to the latest figure of 73 percent, marking a notable 21 percentage point increase,” said OCTA.

“The percentage of adult Filipinos whose most pressing national concern is the improvement or increase in wages or salaries of workers has decreased by 13 percentage points, dropping from 47 percent in July 2023 to 34 percent in December 2023. This concern has shifted from the top three in the current survey, replaced by the emphasis on creating more jobs,” it added.

Based on the results, addressing inflation was the most urgent national concern across areas, with the highest among respondents in Mindanao (85 percent), followed by those in balance Luzon (71 percent), Metro Manila (70 percent) and the Visayas (64 percent).

In contrast, only two percent of the respondents from Metro Manila selected changing the Constitution as among their most urgent national concern, along with one percent each of respondents in the Visayas and Mindanao.

The survey had 1,200 respondents and a margin of error of plus/minus three percent.

Given these figures, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan urged Congress in a protest rally yesterday to address the people’s urgent concerns first.

But Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said that while Charter change is identified among the Filipinos’ least urgent concerns, such an endeavor would substantially improve people’s livelihoods if implemented.

“The key to boosting food production and reducing food prices in the Philippines is investment in agriculture. The flow of capital to the agriculture sector has been tightly strangled by restrictions in the Constitution and the resulting restrictions in our laws,” he pointed out.

According to Salceda, who chairs the House ways and means committee, amending the restrictive economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution would definitely “open the tap for the capital-thirsty agriculture sector.”

“The House-preferred provision on allowing the law to govern constitutional restrictions on foreign land ownership would unlock as much as 7.11 percent in nominal GDP growth – almost doubling agriculture’s contribution to the economy,” Salceda said.

“That is because our agriculture sector is so starved for capital,” he pointed out. “The House has long believed it is time to govern our land restrictions through legislation that can change with the times, rather than through hard-coded constitutional prohibitions.”

Salceda also stressed that “this administration’s focus must continue to be to provide for the wallet and the dining table of the Filipino family.” – Delon Porcalla, Mark Ernest Villeza

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