SWS: Four out of five Filipinos are dissatisfied with government action on South China Sea

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 14) — Around 80 percent of Filipinos are not satisfied with how the administration handles the territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea, an independent pollster reported.

The Social Weather Stations (SWS) conducted a survey from June 27-30 through face-to-face interviews with 1,200 adults, 300 each from Luzon, Visayas, Mindnao and Metro Manila. They were asked several questions on the South China Sea issue. This was before the anniversary of the 2016 Hague ruling.

A vast majority of Filipinos, or 81 percent, said that it is not right for the Philippines to do nothing about China’s intrusion in contested territories.

Meanwhile, 80 percent of Filipinos are for strengthening the military capabilities of the Philippines in relation to China.

Approximately 74 percent of Filipinos are for raising the issue of the territorial dispute to international organizations like the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for diplomatic relations.

On the other hand, 73 percent are for direct, bilateral negotiations between the Philippines and China, showing that Filipinos think that these two diplomatic choices are not mutually exclusive.

Meanwhile 64 percent of Filipinos are for getting a third-party nation to facilitate negotiations between the Philippines and China.

Higher distrust in China

The June 2018 survey showed more people distrusting China, as the Eastern nation’s trust rating fell to -35 points, or a “bad” rating.

This is a 42-point decline from the latest survey result of a “neutral” 7 points in March 2018, and is the lowest trust rating in China since the -37 points reported in April 2016.

China’s trust rating was bad regardless of the survey respondents’ satisfaction in President Rodrigo Duterte. Distrust in China was highest at those who were dissatisfied with Duterte, at -42 points, followed by those who are undecided about the President at -39 points.

Survey respondents who are satisfied with President Duterte still mistrust China, at -32 points.

A majority of Filipinos, at 81 percent, have been aware of the South China Sea dispute prior to the survey, while 52 percent of Filipinos say that they have an excellent to adequate knowledge on the issue.

SWS surveys have a margin of error of ±3% for national percentages, and ±6% each for Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.