MANILA — Three in 5 Filipinos believe that China did not immediately share crucial information about the novel coronavirus outbreak with the rest of the world, according to a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey released Tuesday.
Out of 1,555 respondents, 61 percent agreed with the accusation of some countries that China, where the virus spread began, initially concealed information on the respiratory disease, including its severity and the number of deaths. Twenty-three percent disagreed and 15 percent were undecided, SWS said.
Subtracting the percentage of those who did not believe the allegation from those who believed yields a "very strong" net belief score of +38, said the pollster.
The net belief score was "very strong" in all areas, the survey showed. It was highest in the Visayas at +43, followed by Metro Manila, +41; Mindanao, +38; and Balance Luzon, +35.
Of those who said they believe the accusation, 77 percent agreed that “China should be held accountable for not immediately sharing their information on COVID-19 to the world.”
Fifteen percent disagreed and 7 percent were undecided, said SWS.
This gives a net agreement score of +62, classified by SWS as "extremely strong," it said.
Net Agreement on China's accountability was higher in Luzon areas outside the capital at +66, the Visayas at +65, and Metro Manila at +64, compared to Mindanao, +50.
Australia in April called for an independent international inquiry into the origins of the pandemic.
US President Donald Trump in the same month claimed China could have prevented the coronavirus from spreading beyond its borders, without offering an explanation of the steps the country could have taken.
He also suggested the United States would seek “substantial” compensation for Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
Politicians in the United States are “lying through their teeth,” a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Geng Shuang, fired back.
“We advise American politicians to reflect on their own problems and try their best to control the epidemic as soon as possible, instead of continuing to play tricks to deflect blame,” he said.
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In the Philippines, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said in April that China should shoulder the government's coronavirus expenses.
The Chinese Embassy said Hontiveros' remarks were "ridiculously absurd and irresponsible."
"China and the Philippine are working closely to fight the common threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. At this trying time, it is ridiculously absurd and irresponsible to make such remarks for the sole purpose of catching eyeballs and for selfish political gains," its spokesperson said in a statement.
The Chinese embassy maintained that both countries "are friendly neighbors across the sea."
"China will continue to provide our support and assistance to the best of our ability to the Philippines, and stand together with the Philippine government and people to jointly tackle the challenges and tide over the difficulties," the spokesperson added.
Beijing has donated some test kits, anti-virus masks, medical protective suits, medical face shields and non-invasive ventilators to Manila.
China also sent a team of Chinese medical experts to the Philippines.
— With a report from The New York Times