By Priam Nepomuceno
MANILA – A Pulse Asia survey commissioned by international think tank Stratbase ADRI Institute showed eight out of 10 Filipinos agreed that the Philippines should form alliances and strengthen its relationships with like-minded countries to defend its territorial and economic rights in the West Philippine Sea.
The polling firm released the survey results in Wednesday’s forum titled “The 7th Year of the Arbitral Victory: Defending the West Philippine Sea, the Indo-Pacific, and the Rules-Based Order” organized by the Stratbase ADR Institute.
Pulse Asia conducted the survey from June 19-23, 2023 and asked 1,200 Filipinos nationwide whether or not they agree with the statement: “Alliances should be formed and relationships strengthened with other countries that have similar beliefs to the Philippines to defend the territorial and economic rights of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea and protect international order.”
A total of 80 percent of the people surveyed said they agree, while 17 percent said they are undecided.
Also, when asked to identify measures the Marcos administration should prioritize to effectively address issues in the West Philippine Sea, 7 out of 10 Filipinos, or 72 percent said that the government should strengthen the military capability of the Philippines, especially the Navy, Coast Guard and the Air Force.
Meanwhile, 64 percent said the government should conduct joint maritime patrols and military exercises with allied countries, and 61 percent said the government should shift the focus of Philippine defense institutions, and allocate more resources to strengthen the ability to defend the country from external threats.
In his speech during the forum, Stratbase president Dindo Manhit emphasized the importance of building and strengthening the Philippines’ alliances with like-minded countries in defending the West Philippine Sea.
“We are here today marking the anniversary of our victory at the Permanent Court of Arbitration, but the real test is for us to continue in the struggle to actualize this victory… We are happy to have our friends here with us today from Australia, United States, Japan, European Union, France, United Kingdom, and India. We are thankful for everything we have done together, and we look forward to future areas of collaboration as we deal with traditional, non-traditional, and evolving threats on various fronts,” Manhit said.
“The decision of the arbitral court assures us that we are on the right side of history and provides a solid foundation for our acts. The challenge for us moving forward is how we can build on this foundation. We must commit that we will never allow this victory to be diminished and trampled on. We at Stratbase ADR Institute support all forms of cooperation with countries who share our ideals, values, and reverence for a rules-based order,” he explained.
Among those who participated in the forum was Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Hae Kyong Yu PSM, United States Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson, Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koshikawa Kazuhiko, Delegation of the European Union Ambassador to the Philippines Luc Veron, French Ambassador to the Philippines Michele Boccoz, British Ambassador to the Philippines Laure Beaufils and Indian Ambassador to the Philippines Shambhu Kumaran.
In a Pulse Asia survey that was conducted in June last year, 89 percent of Filipinos said they trust the United States, 79 percent trust Australia, 78 percent trust Japan and 64 percent trust the United Kingdom.
“Defending our territory, asserting our sovereignty, and committing to uphold a rules-based international order in this dynamic, multipolar world is the right thing to do. It is the only thing to do. Together, let us defend the peace and stability of the West Philippine Sea, the Indo-Pacific, and the rules-based international order,” Manhit said.
He also highlighted the need for a Philippine Strategic Initiative, which will explore the interplay between geopolitics and geoeconomics development, and focuses on cross-sectoral concerns revolving around the global economy, security, governance, energy, and environment.
“This initiative will bridge the gap between geopolitics and economic development and highlight the importance of shared democratic values and a rules-based order in a multipolar world,” Manhit said. (PNA)