MALACAÑANG yesterday said Filipinos’ mistrust of Filipinos is understandable given the territorial dispute in the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea between Manila and Beijing.
But the net trust rating of China is expected to improve, said Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, once Filipinos realize the “benefits” from the closer ties between Manila and Beijing under the Duterte administration.
A third quarter survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed that of six countries named by the polling firm, China was the least trusted by Filipinos, with a -33 rating in September down from -24 in June or the second quarter.
Panelo, concurrent presidential spokesman, said Malacañang was not surprised with the SWS results adding that it was “foreseeable and understandable given the conflicting positions of China and our country relative to the West Philippine Sea.”
“Despite the territorial dispute not being the sum total of our relationship with China, the Office of the President will neither court nor force any citizen to change his or her sentiments toward our giant neighbor in the north. We will respect their conviction the way we value their allegiance to the Republic and its elements” he said.
“It is in our belief, however, that China, like any other country, will be eventually appreciated by the Filipinos by reason of the President’s independent foreign policy which has resulted in significant benefits favorable to the Philippines. Verily, China could even become a role model of the Philippines in reducing, if not totally eradicating, poverty,” he added.
The Philippines and China forged closer ties as President Duterte pursued an independent foreign policy which aims to make the Philippines less dependent on its traditional allies and pursue stronger ties with all nations instead.