Pinoys worried about PH-China sea dispute
MANILA, Philippines – Amid controversy over the government's backdoor negotiations with China on Scarborough Shoal, a survey showed majority of Filipinos are worried about the territorial dispute.
An August 7 to 17 survey of 1,500 Filipinos across 77 provinces by Laylo Research Strategies revealed that 7 in 10 or 69% are concerned about the issue, 24% are undecided and 7% do not consider it worth their while.
Among those polled, Visayans expressed the highest level of anxiety with 77% of them articulating their fears.
Both the Philippines and China have been claiming ownership of Scarborough and the dispute started to escalate after the Philippine Navy apprehended several Chinese fishing boats in the shoal in April.
Since then, the Philippines had taken a number of steps to ease the tension, including withdrawing its ships from the area.
On Friday, September 21, President Benigno Aquino III confirmed that the Philippines, through Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, also engaged in backdoor negotiations with China in a bid to resolve the dispute.
However, some quarters raised concern over the move, citing Trillanes' lack of background on foreign affairs and diplomacy.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has been Trillanes' loudest critic after the two clashed on the Senate floor on Wednesday, September 19, over the back-channeling and another issue – the division of Camarines Sur province.
Nevertheless, majority of Filipinos are still satisfied with the way the Aquino administration is dealing with the dispute with China.
The Laylo survey showed that 56% are satisfied, 31% are undecided on the issue, and 14% are dissatisfied.
Among regions, Mindanao expressed the least satisfaction, at 46% of respondents.
Given a list of possible and suggested means to resolve the dispute, about a third (33%) prefer diplomacy over show of force from both parties.
Meanwhile, 20% of Filipinos support the suggestion of lawyer, educator, and environmental policy expert Tony La Viña – that there should be negotiations between the Philippines and China for joint venture on any environment protection or resource use in Scarborough.
Others said that an international court must decide on the dispute (11%); the Philippines must stand its ground in claiming Scarborough (11%); Scarborough must be declared an international marine reserve and disputing nations should preserve it (9%); and the Philippines should ask help from the US to defend its claim (8%).
Many among National Capital Region (42%) and Northern and Central Luzon (41%) residents root for diplomacy. In Mindanao, 16% want an international court to settle the issue, while 14% in Visayas want Scarborough to be declared an international marine reserve. - Rappler.com
Pedro 'Junie' Laylo Jr is an independent public opinion pollster and founder of Laylo Research Strategies, a full service polling and strategic research firm.