SWS: 81% against gov’t policy on Chinese intrusion

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FISHERMEN from Masinloc town, who fish at the Scarborough Shoal, and activists carry a wooden fishing boat during a protest outside the Chinese consulate in Manila on July 12, 2016, ahead of a UN tribunal ruling on the legality of China's claims to an area of the South China sea contested by the Philippines. — AFP

FOUR of five Filipinos or 81% of respondents polled reject the government’s policy of allowing Chinese intrusion in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), the Social Weather Stations found in its Second Quarter 2018 Social Weather Survey.

The survey also found net trust in China falling 42 points and two grades to “bad” -35, from neutral +7 in March.

The non-commissioned survey comes a few days after the Philippines marked on July 12 its second year since winning the Hague arbitration case in its maritime dispute with China.

The poll also found 80% of respondents agreeing that the government should strengthen the Philippine military, particularly the Navy.

The survey reported 74% wanting to bring this issue to international organizations such as the United Nations or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for a diplomatic and peaceful negotiation with China.

“Seventy-three percent (73%) said it is alright to have direct, bilateral negotiations between the Philippines and China to discuss the resolution of the issue of the claimed territories,” the poll also found, while 68% said the government should ask other countries to mediate in this matter.

The poll further showed China’s net trust rating at a “bad” -38 among those who were aware of the West Philippine Sea dispute. “The net trust rating of China was at bad levels regardless of people’s satisfaction with Pres(ident) Duterte: it was highest among those who were dissatisfied with the President, at -42, followed by those who were undecided, at -39, and among those who were satisfied with him, at -32,” SWS said.

The survey was conducted from June 27 to 30, through face-to-face interviews with 1,200 adults nationwide: 300 each in Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, with sampling error margins of ±3% for national percentages, and ±6% each for the said areas.

In a related development, the Consultative Committee to Review the 1987 Constitution (ConCom) criticized retired chief justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr.’s recent remarks about the draft federal charter.

Mr. Davide over the weekend criticized the draft charter’s not citing the West Philippine Sea in its proposed Article I on national territory. He also criticized the draft charter for being “anti-Filipino,” “anti-poor,” and “pro-dynasty.”

ConCom in its statement on Sunday said Mr. Davide “betrays his confusion, lack of sincerity and lack of logic in the on-going debate on the proposal to revise the 1987 Constitution.”

Said the Concom: “The 1986 Constitutional Commission had the chance to put the words ‘West Philippine Sea’ or ‘South China Sea’ (we didn’t call it West Philippine Sea then). They did not. They did not make any loose reference to it even in the way the Article is phrased in the 1987 Constitution. They only talked of sovereignty over territory. And they abandoned the Philippine claim to Sabah, which has existed in previous constitutions.”

Mr. Davide was a member of the said commission, as the ConCom also noted.

“The ConCom draft contains in the Bill of Rights the right of the people to adequate food, decent housing, complete education, comprehensive health care, and livelihood and employment opportunities. These rights are meant for the poor,” ConCom also said regarding the “anti-poor” charge.

“By putting these in the Bill of Rights, they become demandable from the State, from the government; and the government is mandated to adopt measures and programs toward the PROGRESSIVE realization of these rights. It means that the government must — year after year — adopt comprehensive programs in these areas and increase its budget for them so that the number of Filipinos who go hungry, who have no roof over their heads, who are uneducated, who die without seeing the eye of a doctor, who have no jobs or means to have income will be reduced.”

ConCom further noted: “The ConCom draft contains self-executory provisions banning political dynasties, defining the coverage up to second-degree of relations by blood or marriage, prohibiting succession at all levels from he president to barangay kagawad, and prohibiting running or holding more than one position except one national and one regional or local position — which means of the 295 political dynasties and of the 25 million families, there will be only two families that can have not more than two positions — the family of the president and the vice-president. All others will have only one position.”

“The 1987 Constitution has one-sentence provision that leaves it up to the Congress to pass an anti-dynasty law. After 32 years, the Congress — created by the 1987 Constitution that allowed dynasties to proliferate and control the Congress — has not passed an anti-dynasty law,” the body also said.

For his part, Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon said on Sunday the so-called “no-election” scenario in 2019 may pave the way for the President to appoint every mayor, governor, congressman, and even senators.

“Because there is no holdover provision in the Constitution. The officials who were elected last May 2016 elections will have to vacate their posts by June 30 of next year as provided for in the Constitution,” he said in a statement.

He said the President’s appointing powers were already upheld by the Supreme Court (SC) in the case of the postponed 2011 Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) elections. Hence, the President can extend government officials’ terms or appoint their replacement, the senator added.

The SC in 2011 declared constitutional Republic Act 10153 or the law synchronizing the 2011 ARMM elections to the 2013 regular elections. The law also allowed the President to appoint officers-in-charge for the positions of ARMM regional governor, vice-governor, and members of the regional legislative assembly until officials are duly elected in the 2013 polls.

Mr. Drilon then appealed to Congress not to rush Charter change, saying that such moves are being used to postpone the 2019 midterm elections.

“Congress should not be rushed into amending the Constitution to pave the way for federalism. Amending our Charter is not like passing an ordinary legislation. It is much harder than that. It requires comprehensive studies and deliberations. There a lot of imponderables and implications that can affect our people of today,” he said. —reports by Charmaine A. Tadalan, Gillian M. Cortez, and Camille A. Aguinaldo

Trust in China SWS Survey