Majority of Filipinos want Duterte to assert sovereignty in West PH Sea: poll

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 12 2018 04:33 PM | Updated as of Jul 12 2018 06:55 PM

Filipino youth activists brave the waves as they hoist a Philippine flag on the shores of Zambales facing the West Philippine Sea on June 12, 2017, Independence Day, as a symbol of the country’s claim to the disputed territory. Jun Dumaguing, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Seven out of 10 Filipinos want the Duterte administration to assert Manila's 2016 victory in an international arbitral court and the country's sovereignty over its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the disputed South China Sea, results of a survey released Thursday showed.

A Pulse Asia poll conducted from June 15 to 21 this year revealed that 73 percent of Filipinos believe that President Rodrigo Duterte should assert Manila's rights to the West Philippine Sea, the country's EEZ within the contested waters.

The poll results were released as the Philippines marked the second anniversary of its landmark 2016 victory in the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which invalidated China's sweeping nine-dash line claim to the waters. 

China recently stepped up its militarization efforts in the disputed waters, installing military-grade runways, hangars, hardened storage for ammunition, and retractable roofs for anti-cruise missiles, prompting the Philippines to beef up its force in the area.

The survey found that 46 percent of Filipinos strongly agreed that the Duterte administration must assert the court ruling while 27 percent somewhat agreed.

Only 3 percent strongly disagreed with asserting the court ruling, while 4 percent somewhat disagreed. Seventeen percent, meanwhile, were in the middle.

Some 2 percent of Filipinos said they do not have enough knowledge of the issue to give an opinion, while less than one percent (0.4) had zero knowledge of the matter.

DIPLOMATIC PROTEST

On the other hand, 34 percent of Filipinos believe that the Philippines should file a diplomatic protest with the Chinese Embassy in Manila against Beijing's continuous militarization of the disputed waters.

The said protest should "emphasize the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration last 2016 that the islands in the West Philippine Sea are a Philippine territory."

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano had previously said that Manila has filed "several dozens" of protests, "maybe 50, 100."

He also said that protests come in many forms, such as filing a note verbale, listing complaints through the bilateral consultation mechanism between the Philippines and China, and President Duterte telling Chinese President Xi Jinping "that is mine and don't get the oil."

Another 22 percent also believe that the Philippines should boost its military ties with the United States, Japan, and Australia among others. 

Sixteen percent, meanwhile, want Manila to develop its own military capability to defend its territory, lower than the 21 percent who favor the Duterte administration's friendly stance towards Beijing.

In May this year, the Philippines and China agreed to "properly manage" disputes in the West Philippine Sea by engaging in dialogue and negotiations to address issues in the disputed waters.

A total of 1,800 Filipinos were polled for the survey, which was commissioned by the Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute.