SWS: Filipinos trust US the most, neutral on China

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 28 2018 05:47 PM

MANILA - Most Filipinos trust the United States and maintain a neutral stance on China, a survey showed.

A December 2017 Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed that 75 percent of Filipinos say they have "much trust" in Washington compared to 14 other countries included in the poll.

This is equivalent to a "very good" net trust rating of +68 for the US, followed by Canada in second place, and Japan next.

Leaders of the 3 countries all visited Manila last year for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit (ASEAN).

SWS said public trust survey results on the United States, a long-time Philippine ally, have been positive since the country was first included in the polls in December 1994.

SWS: Filipinos trust US the most, neutral on China 1

The US continued to hold a positive impression among Filipinos despite President Rodrigo Duterte's tirades over American officials' criticism of his drug war and atrocities against Filipinos during World War 2. 

During his visit to Manila in November, meanwhile, US President Donald Trump, who has a friendly rapport with Duterte, hailed long-standing ties between the Philippines and the US. 

While the Philippines' bilateral ties with China have warmed up under the Duterte administration, a majority of Filipinos who participated in the survey said they feel neutral about the country. 

SWS said China's trust ratings among Filipinos went up by a grade from poor to neutral, rising by 20 points from the -13 rating it had last September 2017.

The agency added that net trust in China had been positive in only 9 out of 45 surveys since SWS first included it in the poll in August 1994. 

"It reached as high as a moderate +17 in June 2010 and as low as a bad -46 in September 2015," SWS said.

Manila and Beijing have begun regular consultations last year even as the Chinese government continued to ignore an international tribunal's July 2016 ruling that invalidated its claim over nearly all of the South China Sea.

The Duterte administration has been pursuing stronger trade ties with China, downplaying the sea tensions. 

Other countries that Filipinos feel neutral about are Southeast Asian nations Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos.

Countries that are moderately trusted by Filipinos meanwhile are neighboring Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Brunei, and Vietnam.

Although the trust rating for North Korea improved, it still remains as the most distrusted country by Filipinos.

Net trust rating for Pyongyang stayed poor at -19 even as it increased by 9 points from the -28 in September 2017, SWS said.

The agency added that since it began surveying public trust in North Korea in March 2003, net trust rating has always been negative, ranging from a bad -34 in May 2012 to a neutral -5 in March 2017.

Last year, President Duterte described North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as a "fool" and a "son of a bitch" for its nuclear missiles program.