84% reject gov’t’s ‘do nothing’ policy on the West PHL Sea – SWS Q3 poll

Duterte China

Manila, Philippines – A third-quarter 2018 Social Weather Stations poll found that the number of Filipinos who said it was not right for the government to leave China alone with its infrastructures and military presence in the West Philippine Sea had risen to 84 percent.

When the poll was taken during the second quarter, 81 percent rejected the government’s policy of doing nothing.

The third quarter poll also found that the number of Filipinos believed it was right for the Philippines to strengthen its military capability, especially that of the Philippine Navy, had risen to 86 percent from the previous quarter’s 80 percent.

However, those who thought that it was right for the government to bring the West Philippine Sea Territorial dispute to international organizations, like the United Nations or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), for a diplomatic and peaceful negotiation with China, decreased to 71 percent from the previous quarter’s 74 percent.

Nevertheless, 87 percent said it was important that the Philippines regained control of West Philippine Sea islands occupied by China.

Of those who found this matter important, 72 percent said it was very important, 15 percent said it somewhat important, one percent thought it was somewhat not important, and another one percent thought it was not at all important. The remaining ten percent were undecided about the matter.

During the second quarter, 69 percent said  it was very important that the Philippines regained control of West Philippine Sea island occupied by China, 18 percent said it was somewhat important, one percent thought it was somewhat not important, and one percent not at all important. The remaining 11 percent were undecided.

Awareness

The proportion of those who were aware of the West Philippine Sea dispute rose to 89 percent in the third quarter, compared to 81 percent during the second quarter.

Among those who were aware of the dispute, 15 percent said they had extensive knowledge, 32 percent had adequate knowledge, 41 percent had only a little knowledge, and 12% had very little knowledge on the matter.

During the second quarter, 12 percent had extensive knowledge, 40 percent had adequate knowledge, 43 percent had only a little knowledge, and five percent had very little knowledge about the matter.

The third quarter poll also found that there was no change in the number of respondents who knew that the Chinese coast guard had forced Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea to turn over their catch –  65 percent said they were aware in both the second and third quarters, and 35 percent in both quarters said this was the first time they had heard of it.

The third quarter poll also found that 62 percent knew that the Philippines was unable to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the West Philippine Sea, down two points from the second quarter’s  64 percent.

Also, in both second and third quarter polls, 50 percent said they knew that China had created artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea which they used as military airbases.

China’s trust rating

The third quarter poll also found that the United States had a “very good” net trust rating (percent much trust minus percent little trust); while Japan ,Malaysia, and Israel were rated “moderate”.

China scored a “poor” trust rating.

Net trust in China has been positive in only 9 out of 47 polls since the SWS first surveyed the matter during 1994’s third quarter.

China’s trust rating rose to its highest, a “moderate” +17 during 2010’s second quarter. It was at its lowest during 2015’s third quarter – a “bad” -46.

In the third quarter 2018 poll, China was rated a “poor” -16, but nevertheless 19 points above the “bad” -35 during the second quarter.

The SWS defines net trust ratings of +70 and above as “excellent”, +50 to +69 as “very good”, +30 to +49 as “good”, +10 to +29 was “moderate”, +9 to -9 was “neutral”, -10 to -29 was “poor”, -30 to -49 was “bad”, -50 to -69 was “very bad”, and -70 and below was “execrable”.

Meanwhile, among those who were aware that Chinese coast-guardsmen had forced Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea to turn over their catch, China had a “poor” -22  net trust rating. Among those who just learned of the Chinese coast-guardsmen’s behavior, China had “neutral” zero rating.

Distrust in China was higher among those who already knew that the Philippines was unable to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the West Philippine Sea, compared to the “neutral” -3 among those who just learned about it.

Distrust in China was also higher among those aware that China had created artificial islands which they used as military airbases, compared to the “neutral” -9 among those who learned about it during the interview.

The third quarter-2018 China-stance poll was taken from September 15-23, 2018 using face-to-face interviews of 1,500 adults nationwide. The poll had sampling error margins of ±3% for national percentages; ±4% for Balance Luzon; and ±6% each for Metro Manila, Visayas, and Mindanao.

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