Survey: 89% say Marcos should assert WPS ruling
MANILA, Philippines — Most Filipinos believe that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his administration should assert the six-year-old arbitral ruling on the maritime dispute with China and strengthen the Navy and Coast Guard to defend its waters, according to a recent Pulse Asia survey.
The survey sponsored by think tank Stratbase ADR Institute was conducted from June 24 to June 27, just days before the country’s 17th President assumed office.
In a forum on Tuesday to mark the sixth anniversary of the arbitral award in favor of the Philippines, Stratbase president Dindo Manhit said that 89 percent of Filipinos agreed that the incoming administration “must assert our rights over the West Philippine Sea” as stipulated in the July 12, 2016, ruling that rejected China’s sweeping claims to the South China Sea.
Of the 89 percent, 63 percent agreed “strongly” and 26 percent “somewhat” agreed to assert the country’s rights over its waters.
Manhit said 90 percent of the respondents also agreed (56 percent strongly, 34 percent somewhat) that the new administration should “invest in the capability of the Philippine Coast Guard to protect our territory and marine resources in our exclusive economic zone.”
Also, 84 percent agreed that the new government should “form alliances with other countries” to defend Philippine territorial rights in the West Philippine Sea.
“When we speak of alliances, we speak of who we consider as friends. And you see Japan, United States, Australia, European Union, United Kingdom—countries that share one thing with us, the belief that we live in a rule-based international order,” Manhit said.
The survey polled 1,200 respondents and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.
Manila’s Ambassador to Washington, Jose Manuel Romualdez, said in the same forum that the 2016 ruling remained “a significant victory for the Philippines and the international community for the primary reason that the decision is underpinned by the rule of law.”
He said the Philippines’ position in the South China Sea dispute was “to solve issues peacefully and in keeping with international law.” He believed that diplomacy was still the best option in settling the conflict but “we are prepared to deter aggression.”
The Philippines, he said, should “leverage existing strategic partnerships and build on alliances with like-minded states” to defend its territorial integrity.
He acknowledged that China and the maritime dispute were the country’s “biggest foreign policy challenges … amid Beijing’s growing assertiveness” in the vast waterway.
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