SEVEN out of 10 Filipinos believe that the government should assert the country’s rights in the West Philippine Sea in the South China Sea, a July 3 to 6 mobile survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed.
The survey, sponsored by Stratbase Albert Del Rosario (ADR) Institute on Filipino public opinion about China, involved 1,555 adult respondents and had a margin of error of ±2 percent. The result was released two days after the fourth anniversary at the arbitration ruling on the South China Sea issued by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in favor of the Philippines.
The July 12, 2016 ruling of the Netherlands-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines and invalidated China’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea under its so-called nine dash line theory.
China, which has repeatedly declared it is not recognizing the ruling, claims most of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea while the Philippines is claiming part of it like Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam. The Philippine-claimed area in the South China Sea was named West Philippine Sea by the previous administration.
SWS found that of the 70 percent of the respondents who agreed that the “Philippine government should assert its rights over the islands in the West Philippine Sea as stipulated in the 2016 decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration,” 45 percent “strongly” agreed and 15 percent “somewhat” agreed with the statement.
It also found that 13 percent disagreed with the idea (8 percent “somewhat agree” and 5 percent “strongly agree”) while 15 percent were undecided if they agree or not.
This yielded a net agreement score of +57 that SWS classified as “extremely strong.” SWS classifies a net agreement score of +50 and above as “extremely strong,” +30 to +49 as “very strong,” +10 to +29 as “moderately strong,” +9 to –9 as “neutral,” –10 to –29 as “moderately weak,” –30 to –49 as “very weak,” and –50 and below as “extremely weak.”
The net agreement score was “extremely strong” across all geographical locations in the country with the highest in Metro Manila (+65), followed by the Visayas (+59), Luzon (+57), and Mindanao (+52).
The national net agreement score, however, is a 15-point drop from the +82 recorded in the face-to-face survey done by SWS in June 2019 (87 percent agreed, 5 percent disagreed).
The latest SWS poll also found that 82 percent (56 percent strongly agree and 25 percent somewhat agree) believe that the Philippines should form alliances with countries that are ready to help it defend its rights in the West Philippine Sea.
Nine percent disagreed with the idea (5 percent somewhat disagree and 5 percent strongly disagree), while 8 percent were undecided.
This gives a net agreement score of +73, classified as “extremely strong,” which is a 4-point improvement from the +69 recorded in June 2019.
The latest net agreement score was also “extremely strong” across all geographical locations in the country with the highest in Luzon (+75), followed by Metro Manila (+72), Visayas (+74), and Mindanao (+67).