A DEBATE of sorts was held recently between high-profile personalities representing pro-federalism and anti-federalism advocates. It was organized by the country’s top business organizations and moderated by veteran news anchor Karen Davila.
Raul Lambino, a Cabinet member and concurrently Administrator and CEO of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, spoke as a long-time proponent of federalism.
Hilario Davide Jr., retired Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, argued against replacing the existing unitary system with a federal republic.
Both sides put forward valid, convincing arguments supporting their respective advocacies. They were quite effective in communicating their stances to the captains of industry, most of whom were still undecided regarding the issue.
But what tipped the balance in favor of the antis were neither the points raised by Davide nor statements emanating from Lambino that turned the audience off.
Rather, it was a survey conducted last month by Pulse Asia regarding which among 15 national issues are considered most urgent by Filipinos.
The results were revealed shortly before that particular debate, which showed that Filipinos considered charter change as the least urgent of their concerns.
Gut issues of poverty, wages, and rising prices of basic commodities emerged as the most urgent concerns of the Filipino people today.
While 50% of the population believe that “increasing/improving the pay of workers” is an urgent issue, only 3% think that “changing the Constitution” is a matter of urgency.
This means the pros have a long way to go before making Cha-Cha the top-of-mind among Filipino voters.
Here’s my hunch: the key would be the passage of a law regulating political dynasties. That should turn the tide and spell the difference.