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Poll: 8 of 10 Filipinos want rights asserted in West Philippine Sea

Environmental activists display placards as they picket the Chinese consulate to protest alleged military build-up by China on the disputed group of islands at the South China Sea, in the financial district of Makati east of Manila, Philippines Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017. In their statement, the protesters condemned the alleged China's installation of missile system across the disputed Spratlys group of islands and urged the Chinese government that "reefs not rockets should be proliferating in the ecologically-critical waters of the islands." AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines —  About eight out of 10 Filipinos want the Philippines to assert its rights in the disputed West Philippine Sea as stipulated in the decision of an arbitral tribunal, Pulse Asia said in its latest survey.

Pulse Asia's Ulat ng Bayan survey conducted from Dec. 6 to 11, 2016 found that 84 percent of Filipinos want the government to assert the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the disputed waters.

Only 3 percent of the respondents disagree, while 12 percent said that they may agree or disagree.

The survey was conducted two months after President Rodrigo Duterte's state visit to China, signaling his administration's pivot away from the United States, its historical ally.

Stratbase ADRi President Dindo Manhit said that the Duterte administration can pursue its claims in the West Philippine Sea while improving economic ties with Beijing.

"In the medium term, we need to make peace and foster a new era of engagement with China. One that is based on mutual respect and the rule of international law," Manhit said.

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In the same survey, 47 percent of Filipinos said that the Philippines should explore security and defense cooperation with China and Russia instead of the US. About 18 percent of the respondents disagreed.

Around 47 percent of Filipinos also said that security and defense relations with the US have been beneficial to the Philippines.

Filipinos still trust US the most

A huge majority of Filipinos still trust the US more than they do China and Russia, countries the president has been pushing for warmer ties with.

The Pulse Asia survey found that 76 percent of Filipinos trust the US while only 38 percent trust China and Russia.

About seven in 10 Filipinos or 70 percent trust Japan while 39 percent said that they trust the United Kingdom.

The survey also showed that 74 percent of Filipinos trust the United Nations while 50 percent said that they trust the European Union.

The December 2016 survey was conducted among 1,200 adult respondents nationwide with ± 3 points error margin.

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