July 12, 2019
ABOUT 93 percent of Filipinos want the Philippines to regain control of the West Philippine Sea (WPS or South China Sea), including the islands being occupied by China, according to the latest survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS).
Of the 93 percent, 74 percent said it was “very important,” while the remaining 19 percent believed it was “somewhat important” that the Philippines assert its territorial rights over the contested waters.
Only 1 percent said it was “somewhat not important” and the other 1 percent thought it was “not at all important.” Four percent, meanwhile, were undecided.
The latest figure of 93 percent was 4 points higher than the 89 percent recorded in December 2018, according to SWS.
During the same survey period, the pollster found that the call for government actions regarding the WPS had grown substantially.
The survey asked whether specific activities were considered “right” or “not right” for the Philippine government to do to resolve the issue.
Four specific activities, presented in random order, were tested.
To this, 89 percent said it was “not right” for the government “to leave China alone with its infrastructures and military presence in the claimed territories.”
It is up from 88 percent in December 2018, 84 percent in September 2018 and 81 percent in June 2018.
At the same time, 92 percent said it was right to strengthen the military capability of the Philippines, especially the Navy.
It is down slightly from 93 percent in December, but up from 86 percent in September 2018 and 80 percent in June 2018.
Meanwhile, 83 percent said it was right for the government to bring the issue to international organizations, like the United Nations or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, for a diplomatic and peaceful negotiation with China about the disputed territories.
This is up from 77 percent in December, 71 percent in September 2018 and 74 percent in June 2018.
Finally, 84 percent said it was “right” for the government to “form alliances with other countries that are ready to help us in defending our security in the West Philippine Sea.”
The survey, conducted from June 22 to 26, used face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults (18 years old and above) nationwide and has a sampling error margin of ±3 percent for national percentages.
Prior to the conduct of the survey, a Chinese vessel rammed a Filipino fishing vessel near Reed (Recto) Bank in the WPS.
The 22 Filipino fishers were abandoned at sea before they were rescued by a Vietnamese fishing vessel.
President Rodrigo Duterte had downplayed the incident as just a “little maritime accident,” saying the Filipino boat was not sunk, but merely “sideswiped.”
Duterte had downplayed Manila’s maritime dispute with Beijing in exchange for improved ties with the world’s second largest economy.
The President defended his approach, saying Manila cannot stand up to China’s military might.
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