House leaders question Cha-cha survey results

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
House leaders question Cha-cha survey results
Militant groups stage a protest against the alleged use of public funds and signature-buying for the people's initiative to amend the 1987 Constitution in front of the House of Representatives along Batasan Road in Quezon City on January 22, 2024.
STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Two House leaders yesterday questioned the latest Pulse Asia survey results which showed that 88 percent of Filipinos are opposed to the amendment of economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution.

In separate statements, Deputy Speaker and Quezon Rep. David Suarez and Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe said that “biased and leading” questions have been utilized and this could have influenced the results.

According to Suarez, the survey questions appeared to “blur” various aspects of constitutional reform, “potentially causing confusion among respondents.”

“The phrasing of the questions by Pulse Asia seemed crafted to steer respondents towards a specific viewpoint on Charter amendments,” he noted.

Suarez lambasted Pulse Asia for including aspects that are not aligned with “those currently under discussion in Congress.”

These include political issues such as changing the unitary system to a federal system of government, term extension for national and local elective officials, changing the presidential system to a parliamentary system of government and shifting from a bicameral to a unicameral legislature.

Suarez said the survey also contained “biased question regarding ‘allowing foreign individuals and companies to exploit Philippine natural resources’.”

“The survey questions, particularly those addressing contentious issues such as term extension, foreign exploitation of natural resources and a shift from a presidential to a parliamentary system of government, may have inadvertently skewed responses and fostered opposition to Cha-cha,” he added.

Suarez reiterated that the ongoing efforts to change the Charter primarily involves economic provisions and not political provisions.

“The wording of survey questions should accurately reflect the actual provisions being proposed for amendment,” he said.

The lawmaker added that “biased survey questions can distort public perception and hinder meaningful dialogue on constitutional reform.”

“Surveys play a crucial role in gauging public opinion, but they must be conducted in a fair and unbiased manner,” Suarez added.

For his part, Dalipe expressed suspicion that the survey is part of a smear campaign intended to undermine efforts for economic Cha-cha.

He said there is a need for Filipinos to decide on constitutional amendments through a plebiscite rather than solely rely on surveys.

Dalipe is also concerned with the survey’s integrity and purpose, as it included questions not currently under consideration in Congress, such as term extension for elective officials and changing the presidential system to a parliamentary system of government.

“Why include questions that people don’t want and are not related to the ongoing process in Congress? Is this black propaganda?” Dalipe asked.

He added there is an apparent attempt to derail the constitutional reform process.

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