Malacanang criticized the latest survey of the Social Weather Station showing majority of Filipinos opposing the alleged inaction of the Philippine government on the militarization of the West Philippine Sea by China.
“We find the timing of the release of the results of the survey conducted by SWS last September 15-23 suspect considering that such was made public on the day of Chinese President Xi Jing Ping’s first state visit to the Philippines,” Chief Legal Advisor and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
“This adds credence to the commonly-held belief that polling firms could be wittingly or unwittingly used for partisan purposes,” Panelo added.
Malacanang expressed concern regarding ‘the flawed questionnaire design’ on China and the West Philippine Sea (WPS) issue. Panelo claimed that some questions were phrased to arrive at the results of the survey.
“We consider the question skewed as it misleads the public to believe and suggests that the current government has not acted on China’s activities on the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea. This is far from the truth,” Panelo explained.
According to Panelo, the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte has been consistent in its stance to protect the territorial claims and maritime entitlements of the Philippines.
He added that the administration with the Chinese government has formed a bilateral consultation mechanism ‘as an important venue in amicably resolving territorial disputes and to strengthen the momentum of cooperation in matters of common interest’, including the protection of Filipino fishermen.
“We, therefore, view the results with skepticism as the reliability of the data is in question,” Panelo stressed.
Malacanang also reacted to the results of the survey showing that China has a poor trust rating among Filipinos.
Panelo stressed that Filipinos have a higher level of trust for the United States of America and Japan since the two countries have been the traditional allies of the Philippines.
He also mentioned that the renewed ties between the Philippines and China will provide a welcome opportunity for the Filipino public to know and understand ‘our giant neighbor in the North’.
“It does not happen overnight but we are confident that a more favorable public appreciation of China would happen in the future,” Panelo insisted.
The Malacanang official pointed out that the Filipino trust for China improved since Duterte took office on 2016.
“It was -46 in September 2015 during the previous administration compared to -16 in September 2018 during the present administration,” Panelo explained.
Based on the results of the SWS survey publicized on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 84% of Filipinos denounce the Philippine’s alleged disregard for China’s construction of infrastructure and military presence in the WPS, also known as the South China Sea.
86% of Filipinos also believe that the Philippines should strengthen its military capability, particularly the Navy, while 71% of Filipinos believe that the government should bring the issue to international organizations, like the United Nations or Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), for a diplomatic and peaceful negotiation with China about the disputed territories.
Also, 87% of Filipinos believes that it is important that the Philippines regains control of the islands occupied by China in the West Philippine Sea.
The results of the survey were based on face-to-face interviews conducted to 1,500 respondents, aged 18-years old and above.