I FIND it unreasonable to conclude it is not yet time and thus to recommend shelving federalism because some random people rejected it in a SWS poll. The truth of the matter is that people don’t really know yet what to accept or reject.
There are as many styles of federalism as there are countries that adopt it. So, exactly what type of federalism did majority of those randomly surveyed by SWS reject? It could not have been the Filipino version as this is still being crafted by the Constitutional Commission.
Furthermore, the Constitutional Commission’s proposed version of Filipino federalism still has to pass muster in the Constituent Assembly (or Constitutional Convention, hopefully?). What the Assembly or Convention approves as the final draft of the federal constitution will then be put to a nation-wide referendum.
It’s at the referendum that people will decide what kind of federalism to reject or accept and if it’s time or not to shift to it. If people accept it, then it’s time. If they reject it, then it’s neither the right kind nor the right time. In any case, only the referendum and not any survey no matter how scientific should surface the people’s will. Only the Filipino people at large not the randomly selected population of a survey have the final say.
Before the referendum, the pros and the antis can always argue their case before the people. The pros should drum up the advantages of the new constitution while the antis should pick it clean of its weaknesses. The ensuing dynamics between pros and antis would give people a comprehensive and balanced view of the version of federalism they will vote on in the referendum.
I am working on the premise that we don’t in fact have a representative democracy because a big swath of the population is not represented in government. Only rich and powerful businessmen and landlords have a voice in the nation’s affairs.
As a result we don’t have the rule of the majority as should be in a genuine democracy. It is the elite of Philippine society who presume to know what is best for us that has in fact led us to this stifling economic and political dark place we are in now.
It is, therefore, important that we make the transition to federalism in as democratic a way as possible by getting the approval of the whole nation after informing all and sundry what the new constitution can and cannot do. It is most important that, after those in the know have said and done everything to explain the new constitution, we submit to the people’s will and take our chances with their decision.
The suffering majority, not a random few, should decide on federalism in a referendum and not before. The SWS survey was, to say the least, premature.