MANILA - Amid the Duterte administration's moves to improve ties with China, majority of Filipinos want the Philippine government to assert its rights to the South China Sea, according to a survey released by Pulse Asia on Friday.
The poll found that 84 percent of 1,200 respondents agreed that the government should uphold the July 2016 decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which invalidated China's historic claims to the strategic waterway.
The survey was conducted last December 6-11, just 2 months after Duterte's state visit to Beijing, its biggest rival to the South China Sea, where he signaled his administration's pivot away from its traditional ally, the United States.
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Malacañang on Friday assured the public that President Rodrigo Duterte is not giving up the country's rights to the South China Sea.
"What the President is doing is asserting it but in a different diplomatic style,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a press briefing.
The same poll also found that 47 percent of Filipinos agree that the country's security ties with the United States remain beneficial.
Since assuming the presidency, Duterte has lashed out at the US for its criticisms of his war on drugs which has claimed thousands of lives. He was also angered by Washington’s supposed moves to cut aid to Manila, and a US senator’s threat to block a US arms sale to the Philippines.