Massive info Campaign


 On federalism

 NEWS Release  16 July 2018  House Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia on Monday cited the need for the House of Representatives to conduct a massive information campaign to educate the Filipino people on the features of the proposed federal system.

 Garcia said heightened information on the issue is needed since the fate of the proposed federal system rests on the decision by the people through a plebiscite. 

 “They are the ones who will finally decide whether to reject or embrace the idea of federalism,” she said.

 Garcia cited that a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed that only one out of four Filipinos is aware of federal system, although a slightly greater number supports federalism compared to those who are either against it or are still undecided.

 “Only an informed populace can truly make an intelligent and responsible decision on the issue of abandoning the unitary and centralized form of government we have been accustomed to for so long and adopting a novel federal form of government,” Garcia said.

 Garcia was guest during the pre-SONa media briefing organized by the House Press and Public Affairs Bureau (PPAB) and the Office of the Speaker. She reported the House accomplishments during the Second Regular Session of the 17th Congress and its agenda on the Third Regular Session which opens at 10 am of July 23, to be followed by the third State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Duterete at 4 pm.  

 A separate survey conducted by Pulse Asia revealed that about two in three Filipinos are against changing the 1987 Constitution at this time. As to amending the Constitution, a majority or 67 percent of 1,800 respondents said “No” while 18 percent said “Yes” and 14 percent said they didn’t know or couldn’t say.

 Garcia observed that there seems to be a contradiction between SWS and Pulse Asia that regularly conduct surveys.

 “In fact, in so far as the President’s approval rating was concerned, there seemed to be contradictions as well between the SWS and Pulse Asia. So perhaps, it is really a challenge to the House leadership to now disseminate as far as and as much as it can public information and public education on this shift to a federal system,” said the lawmaker.

 She stressed it is not the time to give up the push for a federal set up.

 “Certainly not. You are very much aware that the President when he was still a candidate, had pushed for this shift. This very much part of the platform of the President along with his fight against the drug problem and corruption.  But this (federalism) too, was part of the President’s platform and we are in full support of the advocacy of the President, which is why we will continue to push for this shift to a federal system,” said Garcia.

Garcia stressed that surveys change depending upon the particular mood at the moment and who is doing the survey, as shown by the SWS and Pulse Asia.

 “May I state for the record, the House of Representatives, while it takes into consideration public opinion, we would have to focus on our work and we do not base our direction purely on surveys,” said Garcia.

 When Congress opened in 2016, Garcia said the 17th Congress already outlined its priority measures, closely following the President’s own development agenda.

 Since the President already pushed for federalism, Garcia said lawmakers, including the super Majority in the House under the leadership of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, made it a priority agenda of the House as well.

 “That is why in the coming months, we will now be focusing on a massive information drive for the Filipino population as regards what this (federalism) is really about. I’m sure even the others, the ordinary Filipinos who just go about their own lives, earning their own livelihood, will understand. Most of the time hindi nga nila iniisip kung anong klaseng gobyerno talaga ang meron tayo. Ano bang klaseng sistema? Yung iba nga hanggang ngayon, if you would ask, ‘o sino bang gobernador mo’ siguro hindi nga (nila) kilala eh,”said Garcia.

 What is needed is to show to the people that for a long time and decades, this has been the country’s system of government, she said. “And it would seem that it just doesn’t seem to work. Even if we have given local autonomy to our local government units, eh hindi pa rin talaga, yung tinatawag nilang nafi-filter down to the masses. Yung hinahangad natin na kaunlaran,” said Garcia.

 But as seen in the examples of the more developed countries, Garcia said, especially those that are identified with the First World, the federal system of government does work.

 “(It works) When you create within the country sub-governing entities or states. Kaya nga we will be presenting to the people the advantages of a federal system of government. And we are hoping, this is a challenge to the House. We acknowledge, that there are still so many of our Filipino brothers and sisters who cannot really identify or cannot really understand the difference between what is a centralized, unitary form of government as against a federal form of government. That is a challenge to the House to translate the benefits of advantages of a federal system in more understandable and relatable ways to the Filipinos. And we will continue, not basing our direction and focus on surveys, but basing our efforts on what we have defined as our priority agenda following the priority agenda of the President,” said Garcia. / R. B. Bundang


the noblest motive is the greatest good for the greatest number