Most Filipinos believe that a case filed by former Philippine officials against Chinese President Xi Jinping before the International Criminal Court (ICC) tells the world that China should leave the disputed South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), according to the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey.
The poll, conducted from March 28 to 29 among 1,440 adults nationwide, found that 49 percent of Filipino adults agreed with the case filed by former Foreign Affairs secretary Albert del Rosario and former ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales against Xi for Beijing’s supposedly aggressive militarization of the contested waters.
“The suit filed in the ICC by Albert del Rosario and Conchita Carpio Morales, former officials of the PH (Philippine) government, against Chinese President Xi Jinping for wrongful destruction of the livelihood of Filipino fishermen shows the world that China should leave the islands it has occupied in the West Philippine Sea,” the SWS said, quoting the survey’s test statement.
Only 17 percent disagreed with the statement, while 28 percent were undecided, equivalent to a net agreement score of +32, classified by the SWS as “very strong.”
As for those in disagreement, 7 percent said they strongly disagreed and 10 percent somewhat disagreed.
A significant portion, meanwhile, remained undecided at 28 percent.
Two days before the Philippine government’s exit from the ICC took effect on March 15, del Rosario and Morales called the international tribunal’s attention to Chinese officials’ alleged crimes against the Philippines and Filipino fishersin the West Philippine Sea.
Del Rosario and Morales argued that the ICC had jurisdiction over the “atrociously inhumane actions” of Chinese officials in the contested waterway as it occurred “within Philippine territory.”
The West Philippine Sea is the country’s exclusive economic zone in the disputed South China Sea, resource-rich waters, which Beijing claims in near entirety citing historical rights.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier expressed confidence that the filing of the communication against Xi would not affect the improved relations between China and the Philippines.
“No. I’m sure they [would not]. The Philippines is a democratic country and anybody can bring a suit against anybody,” the President said, when asked if the filing of the communication would jeopardize the relationship between the two countries.
Del Rosario was the top Philippine diplomat when the country filed an arbitration case against China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea before the The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration.
In July 2016, the arbitral court ruled in favor of the Philippines, invalidating China’s extensive claims to the South China Sea.
Duterte, however, has repeatedly refused to invoke the arbitral ruling and instead opted to seek a peaceful engagement with Beijing with regard to the long-standing sea row.
Meanwhile, the SWS said net agreement with the survey statement was “very strong” regardless of trust or distrust in China as a country.
“It was very strong +34 among those with much trust in China, very strong +30 among those undecided with their trust, and very strong +33 among those with little trust in China,” it added.
On April 16, the SWS reported its latest survey results showed that of the four specific countries tested for public trust, China obtained the lowest net trust of neutral -6, compared to the United States with very good +60, Japan with good +34 and Australia with good +33.
The polling firm said net agreement was highest in Metro Manila at very strong +43, followed by Balance Luzon also at very strong +39, Mindanao at moderately strong +23 and the Visayas at also moderately strong +18.
Net agreement with the statement was also highest in class ABC at very strong +42, followed by class D or the masa (masses) also at very strong +33 and class E at moderately strong +23.
By education, it was highest among college graduates at very strong +45, followed by high school graduates at also very strong +37, elementary graduates at moderately strong +26 and non-elementary graduates at also moderately strong +17.
The survey, conducted using face-to-face interviews, had a sampling error margin of ±2.6 percent for national percentages, and ±5 percent each for Balance Luzon, Metro Manila, the Visayas and Mindanao.