MANILA, Philippines – Three years since the Philippines' victory at the Hague, most Filipinos want the government to assert the country's rights to the islands in the West Philippine Sea, a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey released on Friday, July 12, showed.
According to the SWS survey released at the ADR Stratbase forum held on the 3rd anniversary of the Hague ruling, 87% of Filipinos agreed the Philippine government "should assert its right to the islands in the West Philippine Sea as stipulated in the 2016 decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration."
An equal percentage, also 87%, said that Chinese fishermen who destroy marine resources should be arrested.
The historic case invalidated China’s expansive 9-dash line claim on the South China Sea. The Hague ruling involves waters, not islands, but it has implications on the country's claim over the disputed islands.
President Rodrigo Duterte however has shelved the ruling in exchange for loans and grants from Beijing. (READ: Carpio warns Duterte vs defending China in SONA 2019)
Step further: SWS President Mahar Mangahas said on Friday that unlike in the past, questions asked now proposed action to be taken.
"This is now moving the question to the idea of getting action, more action. Not just asking what's the right principle but saying what the government should do," Mangahas said.
He added, "This is now proposition, taking some action. This is not saying the government should go to war. This is saying the government should arrest and prosecute these people."
President Rodrigo Duterte had repeatedly said China might wage war on the Philippines if it enforced its rights in the West Philippine Sea. Experts have criticized this as a "false option."
'Growing opposition:' The same SWS survey earlier showed 93% of Filipino adults said "it is important that the Philippines regain control of the islands occupied by China in the West Philippine Sea." This is higher than the 89% that agreed with the same statement in September 2018, and the 87% in June 2018.
For Mangahas, results showed there was "intense and growing opposition" to China's encroachment in the West Philippine Sea.
Meanwhile, the SWS survey also found 71% of Filipino adults said the government was serious "in protecting the safety of Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea against foreign vessels that threaten their security." Mangahas said this showed Filipinos have not lost all confidence in the Philippine government.
The survey period covered the aftermath of the sinking of a Filipino fishing boat by a Chinese ship in the West Philippine Sea, part of the South China Sea that belongs to the Philippines. (READ: THE SINKING OF GEM-VER: Barko! May babanggang barko!)
The additional questions were part of the June 2019 Social Weather Survey, which was conducted from June 22 to 26, 2018. Its respondents included 1,200 adults nationwide and had a ±3% error margin for national percentages. The two questions on asserting the Hague ruling and arresting Chinese fishermen who destroyed marine resources were commissioned by ADR Stratbase. – Rappler.com