Palace questions timing of release of SWS survey on WPS

MANILA MalacaAang on Tuesday questioned the timing of the release of a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, which says that 84 percent of Filipinos oppose the government's alleged inaction on China's military encroachment in the West Philippine Sea.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the timing of the release of the survey is suspect considering that such was made public on the day of Chinese President Xi Jing Ping's first state visit to the Philippines.

This adds credence to the commonly-held belief that polling firms could be wittingly or unwittingly used for partisan purposes, Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo also expressed concerns on a supposed 'flawed questionnaire,' which he said, was phrased to arrive at the results of the survey.

He was referring to the question: Ang pabayaan na lang ang Tsina na panatilihin ang mga imprastraktura at militar sa mga inaangking mga teritoryo ay Tama/ Hindi Tama na pamaraan na gawin ng gobyerno ng Pilipinas upang malutas ang pagtatalo ng Pilipinas at Tsina tungkol sa West Philippine Sea?

We consider the question skewed as it misleads the public to believe and suggest that the current government has not acted on China's activities on the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea, Panelo said.

This is far from the truth. The Duterte administration has been consistent in its stance in protecting our territorial claims and maritime entitlements, he added.

Bilateral consultation

Under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, Panelo said the Philippines and China have created a bilateral consultation mechanism (BCM), which serves as an 'important venue' to amicably resolve territorial disputes.

Panelo said the BCM also aims to strengthen the momentum of cooperation in matters of common interest, such as the protection of our fishermen.

We, therefore, view the results with skepticism as the reliability of the data is in question, he said.

The SWS conducted the survey from Sept. 15 to 23, but released the results only after two months or on the same day Xi arrived in Manila for a two-day state visit.

According to the survey, the number of Filipinos rejecting the government's policy of doing nothing about China's intrusion in the WPS has increased from 81 percent in June 2018 to 84 percent in September 2018.

The pollster also found that awareness on the WPS conflict among Filipinos have increased to 89 percent, with 87 percent saying it is important that the Philippines should regain control of the islands occupied by China.

The survey also found that 65 percent of Filipinos are aware of the Chinese coast guard's abuses to Filipino fishermen.

Meanwhile, Panelo said it is not surprising to find that Filipinos are having a high distrust of China compared to countries like the United States and Japan.

We have to underscore the fact that the United States and Japan are our traditional allies hence it is expected that there is higher level of trust in these two countries, Panelo said.

Our country's renewed ties with our giant neighbor in the North provides us a welcome opportunity for the public to know and understand China better. It does not happen overnight but we are confident that a more favorable public appreciation of China would happen in the future, he added.

Panelo, however, welcomed the findings that the people's level trust on China has improved from -46 in September 2015 during the previous administration to -16 in September 2018 under the Duterte administration. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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