July 22, 2018, 10:14 pm
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7 in 10 Pinoys want Duterte to assert PH rights in S’China Sea

BY JOCELYN MONTEMAYOR  AND ASHZEL HACHERO

SEVEN out of 10 Filipinos believe President Duterte and his administration should assert the Philippines’ sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea, a June 15-25 survey conducted by the Pulse Asia survey showed.

The survey, which involved 1,800 adult respondents nationwide, was released by Pulse Asia on Thursday as the country marked the second anniversary of the July 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) decision that invalidated China’s nine-dash line claim in the South China Sea.

The results showed that 73 percent of Filipinos (46 percent strongly agreed, 27 percent somewhat agreed) said the President and his administration should assert the PCA ruling. 

Only 7 percent disagreed (4 percent somewhat disagree, 3 percent strongly disagree) with the decision. At least 17 percent were undecided.

The result is 11 points down from a December 2016 survey which showed that 84 percent of Filipinos agreed that the government should assert its rights. 

The June 2018 survey also showed that the decision to assert the Philippines’ rights is shared by majority of Filipinos from all areas and socioeconomic grouping.

The survey also revealed that 36 percent of Filipinos believe that the Philippines should file a diplomatic protest with the Chinese embassy against the continuous militarization of the Chinese in the disputed seas.

About 22 percent said the Philippines should strengthen its military alliances with the United States, Japan, Australia, and other countries.

The survey showed that 21 percent want government to just continue befriending China to avoid conflict, while 16 percent want the Philippines to strengthen its military capabilities to be able to protect the country’s territories.

The Pulse Asia results also showed that majority of Filipinos trust the United States (74 percent) followed by Japan (45 percent), Australia (32 percent), China (17 percent), South Korea (14 percent), Russia (10 percent), United Kingdom (9 percent), Vietnam (5 percent) and India (2 percent).

More Filipinos also trust the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (33 percent), closely followed by the United Nations (32 percent). Only seven percent said they trust the European Union.

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said the country has become a “willing victim” of China in the territorial dispute in the South China with government’s decision to shelve the enforcement of the 2016 decision of the PCA invalidating Beijing’s massive claim in the area.

Speaking in a forum organized by the Stratbase ADR Institute in Makati to commemorate the second anniversary of the historic ruling, Del Rosario said the country stands to lose the benefits of the decision and the chance to ensure that countries - big and small - respect the rule of law.

“What may we call one that acquiesces to the abuses against it? A willing victim. What may we call one that defends an aggressor at every opportunity? An abettor,” he added.

Del Rosario said government should work with other countries and international organizations, including the United Nations, to press its case to ensure that the arbitral ruling is enforced.

Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio said the country could enter into a sea boundary agreement with Vietnam on their overlapping extended continental shelves beyond the Spratlys.

He said a similar sea boundary agreement could be entered with Malaysia to delineate adjoining exclusive economic zones between Borneo and Palawan.

He added that the Philippines can file with the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf an extended continental shelf claim off the coast of Luzon facing the South China Sea.

He also said Duterte should order the military to continue to conduct aerial and naval patrols in the country’s EEZ.

Vice President Leni Robredo said threat to sovereignty in the disputed waters and Filipinos’ security are the gravest and most alarming challenges facing the nation.

Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay said he will ask the Supreme Court to intervene and act on the alleged inaction of the Duterte administration against Chinese aggressive activities in the West Philippine Sea. – With Angela Lopez de Leon and JP Lopez
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