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79 percent want Philippines to work with US amid West Philippine Sea tension

MANILA, Philippines, January 17 ------ Eight in 10 Filipinos want the Philippine government to work with the United States amid the continuing tensions in the West Philippine Sea, a recent survey conducted by Pulse Asia showed.

The Dec. 3 to 7 survey, commissioned by think tank Stratbase ADR Institute, found that 79 percent of the respondents chose the US as among the countries that they think the Philippines should work with. The survey results were released during a forum organized by Stratbase yesterday. The respondents were allowed to give three answers to the question, “In view of the continuing tension in the West Philippine Sea and its implications on the country’s security and economy, which country or organization should the Marcos administration work with?” Almost half selected Australia and Japan, both countries in the Asia-Pacific, with 43 percent and 42 percent, respectively. These were followed by Canada with 34 percent, United Kingdom with 22 percent, European Union with 17 percent, Russia with 16 percent and South Korea with 15 percent. Only 10 percent said the Marcos administration should work with China.

Stratbase president Dindo Manhit said the results underscored the need for the government to bolster its alliance with countries like the US, Australia and Japan, noting that they “have continued to voice their support for the Philippine position and have condemned Chinese actions against Filipino vessels.” He said it is only natural for Filipinos not to favor working with China, considering the incursions and aggressive actions of Chinese vessels inside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. Asked what measures the administration can do to effectively assert the country’s rights in the West Philippine Sea, 67 percent of the respondents said the government can strengthen the country’s external defense capabilities, especially the Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. Other measures included reinforcing alliances and partnerships with like-minded countries through the conduct of joint patrols and military exercises (56 percent), establishing stronger military presence in the West Philippine Sea by repairing the BRP Sierra Madre (52 percent) and improving inter-agency cooperation among those involved in maritime security (52 percent). Majority or 52 percent said they believe the Marcos administration can fulfill its promise of protecting the West Philippine Sea against illegal and aggressive actions of other states, while 10 percent said it could not. The remaining 35 percent were ambivalent on the matter. 



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