8 of 10 Filipinos want to assert rights in West PHL Sea, Pulse Asia survey reveals

MANILA — As the Duterte administration continues to push for warmer ties with China, the latest survey by Pulse Asia found that majority of Filipinos want the Philippine government to assert its rights in the West Philippine Sea.

Based on the survey of 1,200 people, 84 perent of those asked agreed that the government should uphold its rights in the disputed region as stipulated in the July 2016 decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration that ruled in favor of the Philippine claim.

“The country should continue to advocate that all states, including China, must abide by the terms of that ruling,” said Dindo Manhit, President of private think tank Stratbase ADR Institute during the Pulse Asia briefing on Filipinos views on foreign policy at the Fairmont Hotel in Makati City.

“All claimants should avoid any activity that could worsen tensions in the region,” he added.

The survey was conducted from December 6 to 11, 2016, two months after Duterte’s state visit to China.

The same survey found that 47 percent of Filipinos agree that the country’s security relations with the United States remain beneficial.

For their part, China and the Philippines recently announced some USD3.7 billion worth of poverty reduction projects, ostensibly a result of improved commercial ties.

“The Duterte administration can pursue its claim in the West Philippine Sea while still improving the country’s economic partnership with Beijing,” Manhit said, adding that the two are not mutually exclusive.

While pursuing healthier alliances with China, Manhit pointed out that the Philippines should immediately capitalize on the international interest in the arbitration case to garner support for its position.

“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.”

Renato de Castro, professor on International Studies at Dela Salle University said he is not surprised when the survey claims that Filipinos favored United States and Japan over China and Russia.

He said it is expected because we have been colonized by the US and Japan and they have already transferred their culture to Filipinos. Sammy Martin/PNA-northboundasia.com