How Filipinos look at China

THE CORNER ORACLE - Andrew J. Masigan - The Philippine Star

Many may not have heard of WRN Research yet but they soon will. WRN Research has established itself as among the most credible research organizations in the country, now spoken of in the same breath as SWS and Pulse Asia. Management of the research group is composed of young doctorate holders led by founder and chairman, Dr. Robin Michael Garcia.

The group recently organized a forum on China’s threats to national security. The well attended event revealed many insights, not the least of which is the Filipino’s sentiments towards China. In summary, it showed that the Filipino people are not fooled by Chinese propaganda and in fact view the communist nation as a territorial grabber, global rabble rouser and bully. The survey proves that the work of Chinese disinformation networks and treasonous Filipinos who push China’s narratives in social media and some newspapers have been ineffective.

These are the key insights of the WRN survey.

An overwhelming 36.8 percent of Filipinos do not trust Xi Jinping. Vladimir Putin follows as the most distrusted world leader with a 24 percent distrust rating. In contrast, 45.8 percent of Filipinos believe that US President Joe Biden is doing right in world affairs. Only 14.9 percent say they have no confidence in the US president. Fumio Kishida of Japan follows Biden as the most trusted leader with a 37 percent approval rating.

Correspondingly, Filipinos view the Americans as our most trusted ally with a 77.1 percent approval rating. They are followed by the British, Canadians and Japanese with scores of 66.7 percent, 66 percent and 65.5 percent, respectively.

Only 28 percent of Filipinos consider ordinary mainland Chinese to be trustworthy. The majority, or 72 percent of the population, view them with suspicion. Following the Chinese as the most distrusted are the Russians, Indians, South Africans and Saudi Arabians, in that order.

Sixty-five percent of the population believe that tensions are worsening in the West Philippine Sea. And compared to president Duterte, 26.1 percent say that Marcos is handling the China crisis better. Only 20.8 percent say Duterte did a better job.

The Filipino people are clearly impressed with the manner by which the Armed Forces of the Philippines is managing the WPS crisis. Sixty-eight percent give the AFP a two thumbs up, while only 9.6 percent expressed dissatisfaction. Moreover, seven out of ten Filipinos expressed confidence that the AFP can credibly defend Philippine sovereignty in the WPS.

In the whole scheme of things, however, the China threat ranks behind economic concerns among the most pressing issues of Filipinos. High prices (inflation) is the primary worry, followed by poverty and hunger and lack of job opportunities. No surprise, 75 percent say that government must focus more on resolving domestic affairs before participating in global concerns. Should war break out between the US and China, 84.6 percent of Filipinos say that the Philippines should remain neutral.

Also in the forefront of the Filipino consciousness are government’s failings. These include corruption in government, the prevalence of drug use, the high rate of criminality (references to the failure of Duterte’s drug war and war on criminality) and low quality of education under the leadership of the former DepEd secretary.

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A tragic incident happened to a Spanish national in 2020. A 32-year-old Spaniard named Diego Alberto Lafuente was shot dead in a buy-bust operation carried out by PNP operatives in Siargao. The NBI conducted an investigation and found Captain Wise Vicente Panuelos (former chief of police of General Luna municipality), Sgt. Ronel Azarcon Pazo and Staff Sgt. Nido Esmeralda Cortes guilty of planting evidence. The NBI filed criminal charges against the three.

The case was filed in the RTC of Surigao, for which warrants of arrest were issued in March 2022. But the accused remained at large for over six months. However, in February 2023, the three surrendered and were placed under the custody of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the PNP at Camp Crame.

The Supreme Court approved the transfer of the case from Surigao to Manila. The case is now being heard before Branch 1 of the Regional Trial Court in Manila.

In September 2023, the Manila RTC issued a Commitment Order mandating the transfer of the accused from CIDG to the Manila City Jail. However, it was later discovered that the said order was not carried out despite a document that confirmed receipt of the prisoners, bearing the signature of the Manila City Jail warden. The accused remained in Camp Crame.

Last February, the PNP requested the RTC judge to retain custody of the accused in the CIDG compound. The request was denied and the court directed the immediate transfer of the accused to the Manila City Jail. It is not certain whether the CIDG followed the judge’s order and if they indeed transferred the accused to Manila’s prison. Neither the lawyers nor the family of the victim received confirmation of the transfer.

But the bigger questions must be asked. Why has the Manila City Jail warden or his representative confirmed that the accused were already in its custody when in fact they were still in the custody of the CIDG? Second, why is the PNP insisting that the accused be left in their custody at Camp Crame? Are the accused being given special treatment?

The parents of the victim, Pilar and Alberto Lafuente, are in the Philippines to ensure that their son receives the justice he deserves. We, civil society, must keep an eye on this case so that justice is carried out fairly and swiftly. The family deserves no less, considering the horrendous crime committed against their son in our shores.

Those interested to support the plight of the Lafuente family can do so through this website: www.mamonsurfco.com/nosotros/

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Email: [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @aj_masigan

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