A Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey conducted in June found 87 percent of respondents saying it is important that the control of West Philippine Sea islands occupied by China be given back to the Philippines.
Fei Maohua/Xinhua via AP
Palace justifies cozying up to China
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - July 23, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang yesterday justified its move to seek warmer ties with China after a nationwide poll suggested that most Filipinos think it is important for the Philippines to regain control of islands occupied by Beijing in the West Philippine Sea.

A Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey conducted in June found 87 percent of respondents saying it is important that the control of West Philippine Sea islands occupied by China be given back to the Philippines.

Sixty nine percent think China is afraid to face any court while about four out of 10 respondents or 43 percent believe the government’s non-protest of Beijing’s actions is not treachery.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the government agrees that Philippine claims in the West Philippine Sea should be asserted.

But he defended the Duterte administration’s friendly ties with China, saying the confrontational approach of the Aquino regime led to a military buildup in disputed areas.

“We are one with our people in seeking to assert our sovereign rights and territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea,” Roque said in a statement.

“Having seen how the confrontational approach of the previous administration only spurred greater militarization, we have shifted to a conciliatory tack and friendly dialogue with China by employing a bilateral consultation mechanism to resolve issues while we build up our capability to monitor and defend our maritime interests,” he added.

China claims virtually the entire South China Sea while the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims. To assert its claims, China built structures, including military facilities on Kagitingan (Fiery Cross), Panganiban (Mischief), Zamora (Subi), Burgos (Gaven), Kennan (Hughes), Mabini (Johnson South) and Calderon (Cuarteron) Reefs, areas off the province of Palawan that are also being claimed by the Philippines.

Last week, SWS released the results of a June poll which found 81 percent of Filipinos believing that the government should not “leave China alone with its infrastructures and military presence” in Philippine-claimed areas in the West Philippine Sea.

Officials insist the administration is acting on China’s actions that violate Philippine sovereignty.

SOUTH CHINA SEA WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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