Most Filipinos say it is important for PH to regain control of China-occupied islands: SWS


Posted at Jul 10 2019 11:34 PM

MANILA - Most Filipinos believe it is important for the Philippine government to regain control of China-occupied islands in the West Philippine Sea, a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed.

The survey, conducted in June 2019, found that 93 percent of Filipino adults found it important for the government to regain control of islands in the West Philippine Sea.

The question asked in the survey was "In your opinion, is it important that the control of the islands that China currently occupies in the West Philippine Sea be given back to the Philippines?”

Seventy-four percent of respondents said it is "very important" while 19 percent believes regaining control in the West Philippine Sea is "somewhat important."

One percent said it is "not at all important" while four percent were undecided on the matter.

The latest figure of 93 percent is 4 points above the 89 percent in December 2018.

The survey also asked about whether specific activities are considered "right" or "not right" for the Philippine government to do to resolve the issue.

Four specific activities, presented in random order, were tested.

To this, 89 percent said it is "not right" for the government "to leave China alone with its infrastructures and military presence in the claimed territories."

Ninety-two percent of respondents also said it is "right" for the government to "strengthen the military capability of the Philippines, especially the Navy."

Most of the respondents (83 percent) also said it is "right" for the government to "bring he issue to international organizations, like the United Nations or Association of Southeast Asian Nations, for a diplomatic and peaceful negotiation with China about the claimed territories."

Finally, 84 percent said it is "right" for the government to "form alliances with other countries that are ready to help us in defending our security in the West Philippine Sea."

Conducted from June 22 to 26, 2019, the SWS survey used face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults (18 years old and above) nationwide and has a sampling error margin of ±3 percent for national percentages.

Prior to the conduct of the survey, a Chinese vessel rammed an anchored Filipino fishing vessel near Reed Bank (Recto Bank) in the West Philippine Sea.

The 22 Filipino fishermen were then abandoned at sea, before they were rescued by a Vietnamese fishing vessel in the area.

President Rodrigo Duterte has accepted Beijng's proposed joint investigation, with Philippines and China having one representative each, and a third member coming from a neutral country.

China rejected a third party investigator. It earlier said the trawler merely "bumped" into the Philippine boat and tried to rescue the fishermen but was "afraid of being besieged by other Filipino fishing boats".

Duterte has largely set aside the Philippines' row with Beijing over the key waterway to court trade and investments.