By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
Two years since the historic Permanent Court of Arbitration decision giving the Philippines the exclusive sovereignty over a disputed region, seven in 10 Filipinos believe that the government should continue asserting its rights in the West Philippine Sea.
In the nationwide survey conducted by Pulse Asia from June 15 to 25 with 1,800 respondents, 73 percent of Filipinos (46 percent strongly agreed, 27 percent somewhat agreed) agreed that the country should uphold its rights in the West Philippine Sea.
Only seven percent (3 percent strongly disagreed, 4 percent somewhat disagreed) opposed the idea of asserting the country’s rights, while 17 percent neither agreed nor disagreed.
Two percent had no enough knowledge on the issue, while 0.4 had no knowledge at all.
In the previous survey conducted in December 2016, 84 percent of Filipinos agreed that the country should uphold its rights in the West Philippine Sea.
Only three percent opposed the idea of asserting the country’s rights, while 12 percent neither agreed nor disagreed.
Agreement was highest in the rest of Luzon, with 78 percent (49 percent strongly agreed, 29 percent somewhat agreed).
It was followed by those in Metro Manila with 75 percent (43 percent strongly agreed, 32 percent somewhat agreed), Mindanao with 71 percent (21 percent strongly agreed, 25 percent somewhat agreed), and Visayas with 63 percent (42 percent strongly agreed, 21 percent somewhat agreed).
Among socio-economic classes, the country’s claim over the West Philippine Sea was most supported by those from upper-to-middle Class ABC with 83 percent (62 percent strongly agreed, 22 percent somewhat agreed), followed by Class D or “masa” with 74 percent (46 percent strongly agreed, somewhat agreed), and Class E or “poorest” with 67 percent (41 percent strongly agreed, 26 percent somewhat agreed).
Also in the survey, 34 percent of Filipinos believe that the Philippines should file a diplomatic protest against China for its continuous militarization in the West Philippine Sea.
Meanwhile, 22 percent said the Philippines should strengthen its military alliance with other countries such as the United States, Japan, and Australia, and 16 percent said the Philippines should strengthen its own military capacity to protect its territories.
Furthermore, 21 percent said the country should continue befriending China to avoid conflict.
The Pulse Asia survey also showed that Filipinos still have the highest trust in the United States (74 percent), Japan (45 percent), and Australia (32 percent).
Meanwhile, 17 percent expressed trust in China. Other countries in the trust survey include South Korea (14 percent), Russia (10 percent) Great Britain/United Kingdom (9 percent), Vietnam (5 percent), and India (2 percent).
The survey also showed that Filipinos have higher trust in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN (33 percent) and the United Nations or UN (32 percent), than the European Union (7 percent).