SWS: More Pinoys oppose government’s policy of doing nothing vs. China’s intrusion in WPS

Published November 20, 2018, 9:16 AM

by AJ Siytangco

By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz 

More Filipinos have opposed the government’s policy of doing nothing about China’s intrusion in the West Philippine Sea, the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed.

In the nationwide survey conducted from Sept. 15 to 23, SWS asked 1,500 respondents whether or not the government is doing the right approach in resolving the conflict between the Philippines and China about the West Philippine Sea.

China claims most of the resource-rich South China Sea, despite claims from Brunei, Vietnam and the Philippines (AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)
South China Sea
(AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

During the survey, SWS presented the respondents three specific activities.

Eighty-four percent said it is not right for the government to leave China alone with its infrastructures and military presence in the claimed territories. This is up by three points from 81 percent in June 2018.

At the same time, 86 percent said it is right to strengthen the military capability of the Philippines, especially the Navy. This is up by six points from 80 percent in June.

Meanwhile, 71 percent said it is right for the government to bring the issue to international organizations like the United Nations or Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), for a diplomatic and peaceful negotiation with China about the claimed territories. This is three points below the 74 percent in June.

SWS also asked the respondents, “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?”

About 72 percent answered very important, 15 percent somewhat important, 1 percent somewhat not important, and 1 percent not at all important. Ten percent were undecided about the matter.

This compares with June 2018, when 69 percent answered very important, 18 percent somewhat important, 1 percent somewhat not important, and 1 percent not at all important. Eleven percent was undecided.

The proportion of those who are aware of the West Philippine Sea conflict rose from 81 percent in June 2018 to 89 percent in September 2018.

Among the 89 percent aware of the West Philippine Sea conflict before the interview, 15 percent had extensive knowledge, 32 percent had adequate knowledge, 41 percent had only a little knowledge, and 12 percent had very little knowledge about the matter.

In June 2018, among the 81 percent aware of the West Philippine Sea conflict before the interview, 12 percent had extensive knowledge, 40 percent had adequate knowledge, 43 percent had only a little knowledge, and 5 percent had very little knowledge about the matter.

About seven in 10 Filipinos are aware of China’s abuses of Filipino fishermen

SWS also asked the respondents of their awareness on three matters about the West Philippine Sea.

The survey found 65 percent already aware that the Chinese coast guard has forced Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea to turn over their catch even before the survey, while the remaining 35 percent learned about the issue for the first time during the interview. This is the same as June 2018, when 65 percent were aware about the matter even before the survey.

Prior to the September survey, 62 percent already knew that the Philippines is unable to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the West Philippine Sea. This is close to the 64 percent in June.

Likewise, prior to the September survey, 50 percent already knew that China created artificial islands that they use as military airbases. This is the same as the 50 percent in June.

Filipinos’ net trust ratings were “very good” for the US; “moderate” for Japan, Malaysia and Israel; “poor” for China

Of the five specific countries tested for public trust in September 2018, net trust ratings (percent much trust minus percent little trust) were very good for the United States, moderate for Japan, Malaysia, and Israel, and poor for China.

Net trust in the United States has been positive since SWS first surveyed it in December 1994, ranging from a moderate +18 in May 2005 to an excellent +82 in December 2013.

The September 2018 score of very good +59 is six points below the very good +65 in June 2018.

Net trust in Japan was at neutral levels from December 1994 to December 1996, and then rose to moderate/good levels in June 1997-June 2017.

It reached its record-high very good +54 in December 2017, before declining to moderate +28 in September 2018.

Meanwhile, net trust in Malaysia was a neutral -2 in August 1994, before it fell to poor/bad levels in December 1994-March 2008.

Except for the poor -10 in June 2015, it was at neutral levels in June 2008-September 2015.

It rose to its record-high moderate +20 in December 2017, and stayed moderate at +15 in September 2018.

Net trust in Israel was at poor to neutral levels from November 2001 to February 2009, ranging from -13 to -2, before it rose to its record-high moderate +13 in September 2018.

However, trust in China has been positive in only nine out of 47 surveys since SWS first surveyed it in August 1994, reaching as high as moderate +17 in June 2010 and as low as bad -46 in September 2015.

Its latest net trust score of poor -16 in September 2018 is 19 points above the bad -35 in June 2018.

Higher distrust in China among those who know about the specific issues in the West Philippine Sea

China’s net trust rating was a poor -22 among those who were aware that the Chinese coast guard has forced Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea to turn over their catch before the survey, compared to the neutral net zero among those who learned about it only during the interview.

Distrust in China was higher among those who already knew that the Philippines is unable to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the West Philippine Sea before the survey, compared to the neutral -3 among those who just learned about it.

Distrust in China was also higher among those aware that China created artificial islands that they use as military airbases even before the survey, compared to the neutral -9 among those who learned about it during the interview. (Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz)

 
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