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South China Sea: survey shows 73% of Filipinos support military action against Beijing

The survey – conducted in March as part of a series by private pollster Octa Research tracking Filipino attitudes on the South China Sea dispute since 2021 – showed that 73 per cent of the 1,200 respondents nationwide favoured “further asserting the Philippines’ territorial rights through military action, such as expanded naval patrols and troop presence in the West Philippine Sea”.

The West Philippine Sea refers to the portion of the South China Sea that Manila asserts as its maritime territory, which consists of its 12 nautical mile territorial sea, its 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone, as well as the Kalayaan Island Group located outside the zone that includes Pag-Asa Island.

However, resorting to diplomacy was a close second to military action in the survey, according to Ranjit Rye, the president of Octa Research.

While presenting the survey’s results on Thursday during a forum held by local think tank Stratbase ADR in Manila, Rye noted that those who favoured “diplomacy and other peaceful methods” was 72 per cent, just one point behind those who said they supported military action.

“The recent survey results showing high public support for the Marcos administration’s tougher, more aggressive stance against China indicates strong public approval,” he said.

In fact, he said, public satisfaction with Marcos Jnr’s approach to the South China Sea dispute had been dropping – hitting a low of 43 per cent in July last year – before it started rising after the president became more assertive. By the second week of March this year, public support was at 61 per cent.


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