January 17, 2024
MANILA – Eight out of 10 Filipinos want the Marcos administration to work with the United States in the face of growing tensions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), according to a recent Pulse Asia survey commissioned by international think tank Stratbase Institute, which it released on Tuesday.
Conducted from Dec. 3 to Dec. 7, 2023, the survey asked 1,200 people nationwide about their views on the countries or organizations the government should collaborate with given the implications of rising tensions in the WPS on the country’s security and economy.
Seventy-nine percent of the respondents picked the United States, the Philippines’ oldest military ally, while 43 percent said Australia. The other answers were Japan (42 percent), Canada (34 percent) and the United Kingdom (22 percent).
The European Union was favored by 17 percent of Filipinos, followed by Russia with 16 percent, and South Korea with 15 percent. Only 10 percent answered China while 4 percent chose India.
The respondents were allowed up to three answers.
The Philippines has a visiting forces agreement with the United States and Australia. It has also agreed to start negotiations on a Reciprocal Access Agreement with Japan to come up with a similar visiting forces deal.
Manila is locked in a long-standing dispute with Beijing over the South China Sea.
Stronger alliances pushedA 2016 Hague ruling invalidated the Chinese government’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea but it has repeatedly refused to recognize the ruling.
According to Stratbase president professor Dindo Manhit, the results showed the need for the Marcos administration to strengthen its alliance with like-minded nations like the United States, Australia, and Japan.
Statements of support
“These countries have continued to voice their support for the Philippine position and have condemned Chinese actions against Filipino vessels,” Manhit said.
“Their resounding statements of support boost the confidence of the Philippines in the international community. In the face of asymmetric security challenges, the Philippines must leverage its relations with states with shared values and with the same commitment to defend the rules-based international order,” he added.
Citing the survey result, Manhit said only one out of 10 Filipinos or 10 percent favored working with China.
“As evidenced by the survey results, 90 percent of Filipinos are not in favor of working with China. This is only natural, as the Philippines continues to encounter aggressive and coercive acts in the West Philippine Sea,” he said. Some 55 percent of Filipinos also believe that the Marcos administration could “fulfill its promise of protecting the West Philippine Sea against the illegal and aggressive actions of other states.”
Manhit said President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was aware that there were gaps that needed to be addressed in the country’s approach in dealing with maritime tensions in the South China Sea.
“As the Philippines moves on its third year under his administration, the Filipino public will hold him accountable for turning these statements and planned approaches into actual, effective actions,” he added.