9 of 10 Pi­noys want to re­gain con­trol of China is­lands in WPS

Sun Star Bacolod - - Top Stories -

NINE of 10 Filipinos believe it is im­por­tant for the Philip­pines to re­gain con­trol of the fea­tures in the dis­puted West Philip­pine Sea that are be­ing occupied by China, the lat­est So­cial Weather Sta­tions (SWS) sur­vey re­vealed.

The sur­vey, con­ducted from June 22 to 26, found that 93 per­cent of adult Filipinos were con­vinced that the Philip­pines should take back con­trol of its territorie­s.

Of the 93 per­cent, 74 per­cent said it was "very im­por­tant" while the re­main­ing 19 per­cent said it was "some­what im­por­tant."

Only one per­cent thought it was "some­what not im­por­tant" and the other one per­cent said it was "not at all im­por­tant."

Four per­cent were am­biva­lent on the mat­ter. The same sur­vey re­vealed that 89 per­cent of re­spon­dents said it was "not right" for Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte's gov­ern­ment to "leave China alone" with its in­fra­struc­ture and mil­i­tary pres­ence in the claimed territorie­s.

Around 92 per­cent be­lieved it was "right" for the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion to boost the mil­i­tary ca­pa­bil­ity of the Philip­pines, espe­cially the Philip­pine Navy, amid the grow­ing ten­sion in the South China Sea.

Some 83 per­cent also agreed that it was "right" for the Duterte gov­ern­ment to raise the is­sue to in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions, like the United Na­tions or As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions, for a “diplo­matic and peace­ful ne­go­ti­a­tion” with China about the claimed territorie­s.

Around 84 per­cent like­wise deemed it "right" for the gov­ern­ment to "form al­liances" with other coun­tries that are ready to help the Philip­pines in de­fend­ing its se­cu­rity in the South China Sea.

The SWS con­ducted the sur­vey af­ter a Chi­nese ves­sel on June 9 slammed, sank, and aban­doned Filipino fish­ing ves­sel Gem-ver1 at Recto Bank, which is lo­cated within the Philip­pines's 200-nau­ti­cal-mile ex­clu­sive eco­nomic zone.

The fi­nal and of­fi­cial joint in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­port of the Philip­pine Coast Guard and Mar­itime In­dus­try Author­ity has cat­e­go­rized the al­li­sion at Recto

Bank as “very se­ri­ous ma­rine ca­su­alty” be­cause of the “to­tal loss” of Gem-ver1.

Sought for re­ac­tion on the SWS sur­vey, Panelo said the gov­ern­ment is try­ing to re­gain con­trol of the China-claimed is­lands in the West Philip­pine Sea.

The Palace of­fi­cial, how­ever, ad­mit­ted that there was a “prob­lem,” since China is as­sert­ing that it owns the fea­tures that are "sup­posed to be ours."

“Da­pat nga 100 per­cent, la­hat ng Pilipino da­pat (It should be that 100 per­cent or all Filipinos) would want to have con­trol over the ar­eas that are sup­posed to be ours. But the re­al­ity is may prob­lema tayo doon (we have prob­lem there) be­cause China claims to own it too," Panelo told a press con­fer­ence.

“Sa ngayon, dahil nga may prob­lema on the claim of own­er­ship, dadaanin natin sa diplo­matic ne­go­ti­a­tions (To date, since there's a prob­lem on the claim of own­er­ship, we will ad­dress it through diplo­matic ne­go­ti­a­tions). That's the tact the Pres­i­dent has de­cided," he added.

Panelo was op­ti­mistic that diplo­matic ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the Philip­pines and China would en­able Manila to re­gain con­trol of the fea­tures in the dis­puted sea.

“Eh kung makukuha natin sa diplo­matic ne­go­ti­a­tions, la­long ma­g­a­l­ing. Hindi natin alam kung anong chances but we're do­ing it. (If we can do it through diplo­matic ne­go­ti­a­tions, it's bet­ter. We don't know the chances but we're do­ing it)," he said.

The SWS in­ter­viewed 1,200 adult Filipinos, us­ing sampling er­ror mar­gins of ±3 per­cent­age points for na­tional per­cent­ages, and ±6 per­cent­age points each for Metro Manila, Bal­ance of Lu­zon, Visayas, and Min­danao./ Suns­tar Philip­pines

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