MANILA - The country's economic woes, territorial sovereignty and the push for federalism are among the top issues in this year's midterm elections, an analyst said.
Ronald Mendoza, dean of the Ateneo School of Government, said economic issues have consistently ranked in surveys as among the top concerns of Filipinos.
The Duterte administration's West Philippine Sea policy and federalism shift may likewise be high in the Filipinos' agenda as they vote for their candidates in May.
"Another issue that I think is going to emerge perhaps for the first time in our history is the sovereignty issue. The visit of President Xi Jinping is on the one hand a signal of better economic relationship with China and something that we should certainly be pragmatic about," Mendoza told ANC's Beyond Politics.
"We can benefit from their growth. But I think survey upon survey Filipinos are expressing their preference for our government to exert sovereignty over those areas."
Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Manila last November for a two-day state visit aimed at further improving the two nations’ ties that had been strained by the bitter maritime dispute.
Most Filipinos or 84 percent are opposed to the government's supposed inaction on China's military encroachment in the West Philippine Sea, according to a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey released in the same month.
Mendoza, meanwhile, said some politicians will campaign with the federalism shift in mind.
"I do hope that there’s more evidence brought to bear on this discussion, that this is just not going to be a brand with very little of underpinning what is contained in federalism," he said.
"I have high hopes that this would be a learning moment for the country as well. We get to learn more about our Constitution, something that we probably should’ve been doing before. I do think it’s one of this double-edge swords where it could be useful for us, on the other hand if we don’t understand it and jump right in, it could be quite noisy, quite detrimental also."