SWS: Overwhelming support for gov’t policy on China
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - February 11, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Filipinos overwhelmingly support the government’s decision to file a case against China over its excessive claims in the West Philippine Sea, the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed.

At least 81 percent of respondents agree with the filing of an arbitration case before a United Nations tribunal, with the highest approval in Metro Manila at 88 percent, Luzon (81 percent) and Mindanao (79 percent).

Malacañang expressed delight at the high rate of support for the government’s move to file the arbitral case.

“We in the administration are elated that 81 percent of our population supports our position,” President Aquino told The STAR in a text message.

“There is a need to clarify the entitlements and duties of every state involved in the decades-old dispute in the sea known by many names. The 81 percent reflects the maturity and aspiration of our people for a real peaceful resolution on the matter. We are now reaching out to the remaining 19 percent of our population: Our position, which adheres to the rule of law, redounds to the benefit of our people and our region,” he added.

At least 61 percent are also aware that a case has been filed against China.

The government should also defend its territory and natural resources in the West Philippine Sea through lawful means, according to 93 percent of the respondents, with 97 percent in Luzon, 96 percent in Metro Manila, 88 percent in Mindanao and 87 percent in the Visayas sharing the same sentiment.

Seventy-seven percent of the respondents believe that international law is a “great equalizer against countries that are stronger militarily and economically.”

The survey also showed that 56 percent of the respondents are aware that China is continuously strengthening its military forces in the West Philippines Sea.

The survey was commissioned by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and conducted among 1,550 respondents from Dec. 11- 16, 2013.

It also showed that at least 73 percent of Filipinos are aware of the conflict between the Philippines and China.

Metro Manila has the highest awareness at 78 percent followed by Luzon (74 percent), Mindanao (72 percent) and the Visayas (70 percent).

At least 80 percent of the respondents also agree that the Philippines should ask the help of other countries regarding China’s continuous strengthening of military forces in the West Philippine Sea.

Results of the DFA-commissioned survey presented yesterday by SWS president Mahar Mangahas also showed that only 27 percent of the respondents said they heard about the dispute only recently.

Distrust in China

Meanwhile, an independent SWS survey showed most Filipinos’ strong distrust of China, with its trust rating at -17 percent.

Mangahas said the United States is most trusted country at +82 percent.

“Trust in China (fell) from -13 to -17 percent to show you the trust of Filipinos in China is definitely at the bottom,” he said. “The distrust outweighs the trust in China.”

He said the SWS conducts periodic surveys on trust in certain countries, including the US, Australia, Japan, Taiwan Malaysia and China.

“This is something that SWS does from time to time,” Mangahas said.

Strong support

DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said the DFA welcomed the strong support for the government on the West Philippine Sea issue.

“The overwhelming support of the Filipino people for the arbitration case and our rules-based approach to the West Philippine Sea dispute proves that taking a principled stance, one that is based on respecting the rule of law and pursuing peaceful settlement of disputes, strongly resonates with the Filipino people,” he said.

He said the DFA saw the need to measure and assess the awareness of Filipinos on foreign-related issues, the dispute with China and the filing of a case against Beijing in the arbitral tribunal.

“There was a need to find out exactly what was the pulse of the people as to the issue of the West Philippine Sea,” he said.


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