MANILA - Malacañang on Friday said it is up to China to prove itself a “trustworthy” friend of the Philippines after a poll showed that more Filipinos have greater trust in the Asian giant’s regional rival, the United States.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the survey, conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) in December, was no longer surprising as the US, along with Japan, have been long-time allies of the Philippines.
He said the Philippines has just started building friendly relations with China under President Rodrigo Duterte, following years of bitter dispute over the South China Sea.
“Bigyan natin ng pagkakataon ang mga Tsino. Tingnan natin kung ano ang mangyayari sa kanilang mga pangako. Kinakailangan ng panahon bago tayo maging BFF (best friends forever),” Roque said in a news conference in Paniqui, Tarlac.
He said it is up to China if it wants to further improve its ties with the Philippines, adding that Manila has already reached out to Beijing by setting aside the maritime dispute.
“Nasa Tsina na 'yan kung bibigyan nila ng katuparan ang kanilang mga pangako, kung hindi tayo magkakagulo dahil sa West Philippine Sea, kung sila’y tutupad sa pangako na ‘di na sila magkakaroon ng mga bagong reklamasyon at bagong artificial islands,” he said.
“Ang Pilipino, nasa anyo naman natin na mas nais nating maging kaibigan kaysa kaaway. This is a two-sided relationship. We want to trust China but China must also prove herself to be trustworthy.”
A December 2017 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.
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.
The US continued to hold a positive impression among Filipinos despite Duterte's tirades over American officials' criticism of his drug war.
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.
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.