By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter
PRESIDENTIAL Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. on Sunday said Malacañang is “”one with our people in seeking to assert our sovereign rights and territorial claims in the (West Philippine Sea).”
Mr. Roque made the statement Sunday following the release Friday of the Second Quarter 2018 Social Weather Survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS), showing that 87% of adult Filipinos believe it is important the country regains control of the islands occupied by China in the West Philippine Sea.
His statement also said: “Having seen how the confrontational approach of the previous administration only spurred greater militarization, we have shifted to a conciliatory tack and friendly dialogue with China by employing a bilateral consultation mechanism (BCM) to resolve issues while we build up our capability to monitor and defend our maritime interests.”
The BCM, according to the Palace, was established based on the joint statement issued after President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s landmark visit to China in 2016. Its primary objective is to discuss issues of concern from either side, promote cooperation in the disputed waters, and identify mutually acceptable approaches toward addressing the territorial issue.
Labor coalition Nagkaisa, for its part, said there should be a “clear government policy of defending the country’s sovereignty and patrimony on its rightful claims” in the West Philippine Sea.
Before the survey was conducted, SWS also said, “64% already knew that the Philippines is unable to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the West Philippine Sea, 51% already knew that China broke its promise not to militarize the area, and 50% already knew that China created artificial islands that they use as military airbases.”
“The proportion of those who said it is important to regain control of the islands occupied by China in the West Philippine Sea was highest among those with extensive knowledge at 98%, followed by those with adequate knowledge at 95%, those with only a little knowledge at 91%, and those with very little knowledge about the conflict at 83%,” SWS said further.