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Pulse Asia: 80% of Pinoys want alliances to defend West Philippine Sea rights

At least 80% of Filipinos are in favor of the Philippines forming alliances with like-minded countries for the defense of the country’s sovereign rights in the West Philippines Sea, a Pulse Asia poll commissioned by think tank Stratbase ADR Institute showed.

The Pulse Asia survey, conducted from June 19 to 23 among 1,200 respondents, yielded such result as response to a question on whether or not they agree with the statement which read “Alliances should be formed and relationships strengthened with other countries that have similar beliefs to the Philippines to defend the territorial and economic rights of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea and protect international order.” 

On the other hand, 17% of the respondents were undecided while only 3% disagreed with the statement.

Meanwhile, 1% of those surveyed said they don’t have enough knowledge to give an opinion.

The Pulse Asia poll was released on the same day of the seventh year anniversary of the issuance of the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling which junked China’s expansive nine-dash claim in the South China Sea, upheld the country’s 200 nautical miles off territorial waters exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the area, and deemed Chinese aggression against Filipino fisherfolk with the Philippines’ EEZ and common fishing grounds illegal.

The same poll also showed that 72% of respondents believe that the Marcos administration should prioritize strengthening the country’s  military capability, especially the Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force, to effectively defend the country’s sovereign rights in the West Philippines Sea.

Ranking second among the steps the administration should take, according to respondents, is the conduct of joint maritime patrols and military exercises with allied countries at 64%. This was followed by allocating more resources to strengthen the ability to defend the country from external threats (61%).

The full implementation of the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the Americans got 54%, while the crafting of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Code of Conduct that sets rules on how countries would act in South China Sea got 37%.

Only 2% of the respondents said they don't have knowledge to give an opinion on which steps the government should take in defending its national interest.

Stratbase president Dindo Manhit, in a speech during Tuesday’s forum, emphasized the importance of building and strengthening Philippines’ alliances with like-minded countries in defending the West Philippine Sea. 

“We are here today marking the anniversary of our victory at the Permanent Court of Arbitration, but the real test is for us to continue in the struggle to actualize this victory. The decision of the arbitral court assures us that we are on the right side of history and provides a solid foundation for our acts,” he said.

“The challenge for us moving forward is how we can build on this foundation. We must commit that we will never allow this victory to be diminished and trampled on. We are happy to have our friends here with us today from Australia, United States, Japan, European Union, France, United Kingdom, and India. We are thankful for everything we have done together, and we look forward to future areas of collaboration as we deal with traditional, non-traditional, and evolving threats on various fronts,” Manhit added.

Among those who participated in the forum were Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Hae Kyong Yu PSM, United States’ Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson, Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koshikawa Kazuhiko, Delegation of the European Union Ambassador to the Philippines Luc Veron, French Ambassador to the Philippines Michele Boccoz, British Ambassador to the Philippines Laure Beaufils, and Indian Ambassador to the Philippines Shambhu Kumaran. —KG, GMA Integrated News