Bayan News

June 2019 Nationwide Survey on Public Trust in Selected Countries and Public Opinion on the Recto Bank Incident

Pulse Asia Research, Inc. is pleased to share with you some findings on Public Trust in Selected Countries and Public Opinion on the Recto Bank Incident from the June 2019 Ulat ng Bayan national survey. We request you to assist us in informing the public by disseminating this information.

The survey fieldwork was conducted from June 24 to 30, 2019 using face-to-face interviews.

The following news developments preoccupied Filipinos immediately before and during the conduct of the interviews for this nationwide survey:

1. The reported ramming of a Filipino fishing vessel in the Recto Bank on 09 June 2019 by a Chinese fishing vessel that left the 22 fishermen aboard F/B GEM-VIR to fight to stay afloat for hours before they were rescued by a Vietnamese vessel; while the Filipino fishermen initially claimed that their vessel was intentionally rammed by the Chinese, they changed their account of the events after a closed-door meeting with Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol on 19 June 2019; the latter has offered to resign amidst public criticism of his handling of the meeting with the fishermen and the rice supply problem that had jacked up the price of rice nationwide;

2. The Philippine government’s filing of a diplomatic protest concerning the Recto Bank incident before the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on 12 June 2019; both the Philippines and China conducted separate investigations, with President Rodrigo R. Duterte accepting China’s proposal to conduct a joint investigation into the matter and China rejecting the President’s suggestion to involve a “neutral” third party in the investigation;

3. The statement made by President Duterte that he does not think China will allow its fishermen to be banned from fishing in Philippine waters and due to the friendly relations between these countries, Chinese fishermen should be allowed to fish in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ); lawmakers and maritime law experts criticized President Duterte’s remarks for being unconstitutional since allowing the Chinese to fish within the Philippines’ EEZ is tantamount to foreign intrusion into the country’s territory and implies that the Philippine government has renounced its victory at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in July 2016; former Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Albert del Rosario said the President’s failure to protect the country’s territory could be used as a basis for his impeachment, to which President Duterte replied that he will have his critics arrested and jailed if they attempt to impeach him but Senator Francis Pangilinan countered that impeaching a sitting president is not a crime;

4. The explosions in Barangay Kajatian, Indanan, Sulu on 28 June 2019 that resulted in eight (8) deaths, including three (3) soldiers and two (2) suspected bombers, and caused injuries to 12 others; the Islamic State (IS) claimed that the explosions were carried out by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), its local affiliate;

5. The plea made by the country’s public school teachers for President Duterte to live up to his campaign promise to increase their salaries; the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) is petitioning the Duterte administration for a P 10,000 hike in the basic pay of teachers but Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones cautioned that any increase in the pay of teachers should be accompanied by a pay hike for other disadvantaged government employees and would thus put more pressure on the government to generate more funds for workers’ salaries;

6. The investigation conducted by the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Automated Election System (JCOC-AES) concerning allegations of fraud and manipulation in the May 2019 elections; the JCOC-AES expressed satisfaction with the overall conduct of the elections but several recommendations were made to ensure the security of the transmission of data from the vote-counting machines (VCMs) to the consolidation and canvassing system as well as the transparency of the operation of the queue servers, among others; the Random Manuel Audit Committee (RMAC) also reported that its initial examination of 711 cluster precincts show an accuracy rate of 99.99% as far as the VCMs used in these precincts are concerned;

7. The call made by 11 United Nations (UN) human rights experts for the conduct of an independent investigation into what they perceive to be the worsening human rights situation in the Philippines, particularly the increasing number of “unlawful deaths and police killings” as a result of the administration’s “war on drugs”; Malacañang rejected the proposal on the grounds that it violates Philippine sovereignty and is based on “biased and absolutely false” information; for its part, the DFA said the proposal was made in bad faith and only seeks to undermine the country’s democratic processes;

8. The passage by Congress of the bill hiking the excise tax on tobacco products from P 45 to P 60 from 2020 to 2023; the revenues generated from this tax hike will be utilized to fund the government’s Universal Health Care (UHC) program; the bill is expected to raise up to P 126 B over the next five (5) years;

9. The continued leadership of Senator Vicente Sotto III in the Upper House following the signing by 14 of his colleagues of a resolution expressing support for him; meanwhile, in the House of Representatives, a term-sharing plan involving Taguig City-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco taking turns serving as House Speaker during the 18th Congress was announced but the latter was said to have rejected the proposal; amidst the ongoing race for House Speaker, the President revealed that he asked outgoing House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to help choose her successor;

10. The resignation of Philippine Health Insurance Cooperation (PhilHealth) President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Roy Ferrer and six (6) other PhilHealth officials following reports of fraud within the agency involving so-called “ghost” dialysis claims paid by PhilHealth to WellMed Dialysis and Laboratory Center (WellMed), whose owner has been detained and charged by the Department of Justice (DOJ) with estafa and falsification of documents; President Duterte has ordered an investigation into the anomalies within PhilHealth and directed the prosecution of all officials and employees found to be involved in these anomalous transactions;

11. The filing of a criminal complaint against Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III before the Office of the Ombudsman; the DOH Secretary is charged with violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, and the Plunder Law; the charges arise from a lease contract entered into by a company owned by the Duque family and the PhilHealth regional office in Pangasinan, the DOH Secretary’s links to the owner of WellMed, and his failure to provide medical assistance to children administered with the Dengvaxia vaccine; DOH Secretary Duque has denied these charges and said he strongly supports the President’s anti-corruption campaign;

12. The deportation from Hong Kong (HK) of former DFA Secretary del Rosario on 21 June 2019 for unspecified reasons; Malacañang said the latter may have “misused” his diplomatic passport for a business meeting in HK and the DFA announced it would issue an order cancelling all courtesy diplomatic passports given to former foreign affairs chiefs and ambassadors; ex-DFA Secretary del Rosario considers his deportation as “harassment” arising from the case he filed, along with former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, against Chinese President Xi Jinping for crimes against humanity in connection with the exploitation of marine resources in the West Philippine Sea by Chinese entities;

13. The decision of the Office of the Ombudsman to withdraw the charges of graft and usurpation of official functions filed against former President Benigno S. Aquino III in connection with the January 2015 Mamasapano massacre; Ombudsman Samuel Martires said he found insufficient ground and evidence to charge the former President;

14. The ruling of the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division to deny the motion filed by former Senator Jinggoy Estrada to have his plunder case dismissed; the court’s ruling found that there is sufficient evidence for the trial against the ex-lawmaker to proceed in connection with his alleged involvement in channeling P 183 M of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to bogus non-governmental organizations (NGOs);

15. The appointment of retired Army General Ricardo Morales as the new PhilHealth President and CEO and his vow to revamp the image of the agency by relentlessly investigating the alleged irregularities in the PhilHealth; the National Food Authority (NFA) also has a new head with the appointment of its Deputy Administrator for Marketing Operations Judy Carol Dansal as NFA Administrator;

16. The continued water service interruptions in Metro Manila due to the declining reserves in Angat Dam, with Manila Water customers experiencing service interruptions lasting 12 to 17 hours and Maynilad patrons losing their water supply for up to 19 hours; the situation is expected to improve only after about three (3) months during which time the water level in Angat Dam is projected to normalize; and

17. The increase in headline inflation from 3.0% in April 2019 to 3.2% in May 2019, which the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) attributed to the faster growth in the food and non-alcoholic beverages index and the index of housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels; meanwhile, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said a decline in the unemployment rate from 5.5% in April 2018 to 5.1% a year may be due mainly to the increase in hirings in the services sector during the recent election season; the reduction in the power rates charged by the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) by P 0.1948 per kilowatt hour from May to June 2019 as a result of lower charges from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) and lower transmission charges for residential customers and reduced taxes; the increase in the toll rates along the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) beginning 14 June 2019 in the amount of P 0.51 per kilometer; and the deferment of a water rate hike in Metro Manila following the decision of the Metropolitan Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) to postpone the implementation of the foreign currency differential adjustment (FCDA) to the third quarter of 2019.

As in our previous Ulat ng Bayan surveys, this nationwide survey is based on a sample of 1,200 representative adults 18 years old and above. It has a +/- 2.8% error margin at the 95% confidence level. Subnational estimates for the geographic areas covered in the survey have the following error margins at 95% confidence level: +/- 5.7% for Metro Manila, the rest of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Those interested in further technical details may refer to our website (www.pulseasia.ph)

Pulse Asia Research’s pool of academic fellows takes full responsibility for the design and conduct of the survey, as well as for analyses it makes based on the survey data. In keeping with our academic nature, no religious, political, economic, or partisan group influenced any of these processes. Pulse Asia Research undertakes Ulat ng Bayan surveys on its own without any party singularly commissioning the research effort.

For any clarification or questions, kindly contact Ana Maria Tabunda, Research Director of Pulse Asia Research at 09189436816 or Ronald D. Holmes, Pulse Asia Research President via Viber or Telegram at +639189335497 or at ronald.holmes@gmail.com (via email.).

Trust is the predominant sentiment toward Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the United Kingdom (UK), the United States (US), and Vietnam; in contrast, most Filipinos distrust China and Russia

Small to huge majorities of Filipinos say the Philippines should extend a great deal/fair amount of trust to the United States (89%), Japan (79%), Australia (76%), Canada (71%), Malaysia (63%), the United Kingdom (56%), Indonesia (56%), and Vietnam (53%). More particularly, the prevailing opinion among Filipinos is that the Philippines should extend a fair amount of trust in Australia (63%), Canada (59%), Japan (59%), the US (56%), and Malaysia (51%). Meanwhile, big pluralities are of the view that the Philippines should show a fair amount of trust toward the UK (47%), Indonesia (47%), and Vietnam (44%). (Please refer to Table 1.)

On the other hand, most Filipinos opine that the Philippines cannot trust Russia and China too much or not trust these countries at all (57% and 74%, respectively). Specifically, about the same percentages of Filipinos say the Philippines should express either a fair amount of trust toward Russia (37%) or not trust it too much (40%). In the case of China, 35% of Filipinos are of the opinion that the Philippines should not trust China too much while 39% say China should not be trusted at all.

Public opinion on the matter remains essentially unchanged between December 2018 and June 2019. The only exceptions to this overall observation are the: (1) increase in the percentage of Filipinos who believe the Philippines should extend a fair amount of trust to Australia (+6 percentage points); (2) decline in the percentages of those saying the same thing about China (-12 percentage points); (3) rise in the percentage of Filipinos of the view that the Philippines should not trust the UK too much (+6 percentage points); (4) drop in the percentage of Filipinos who express the same sentiment toward Japan (-6 percentage points); and (5) increase in the percentage of those saying China cannot be trusted at all (+19 percentage points). (Please refer to Table 2.)

Awareness of the June 2019 Recto Bank incident is reported by most Filipinos (87%); 36% of Filipinos are of the view that the Philippine government should ask China to sanction the crew members of the Chinese vessel involved in the said incident

Almost nine (9) out of every 10 Filipinos (87%) have heard, read, or watched something about the 09 June 2019 incident in the West Philippine Sea, specifically in Recto Bank, involving fishing vessels from the Philippines and China. Majority levels of awareness are posted across geographic areas and socio-economic groupings (83% to 95% and 87% to 99%, respectively). (Please refer to Table 3.)

In addition to filing a formal complaint before the International Maritime Organization (IMO), 36% of Filipinos would like the Philippine government to ask China to sanction members of the Chinese vessel that allegedly rammed the F/B GEM-VER and left its crew members struggling to stay afloat in the waters for hours before they were rescued by a Vietnamese boat. This is the most preferred option in Metro Manila (46%), the rest of Luzon (45%), and Classes D and E (34% to 36%). On the other hand, 26% of Filipinos believe China itself, not just the Chinese fishing vessel involved, should be made to pay for the damages incurred by F/B GEM-VER and injuries suffered by its crew members. This is the most favored option in the Visayas (36%) and Mindanao (35%).

For 19% of Filipinos, the crew members of the Chinese fishing vessel should be presented before a Philippine court where they should be tried. As for 10% of Filipinos, the Philippines and China should sit down and agree on a set of rules that would apply to similar maritime incidents in the West Philippine Sea (WPS). Among those in Class ABC, the leading options are to have China sanction the crew members of the fishing vessel responsible for the Recto Bank incident (38%), to have China present those involved in the incident before a Philippine court so they can be tried here (20%), and for the Philippines and China to agree on a set of rules governing similar maritime incidents in the WPS (15%).

Among five (5) prelisted options included in the survey, the least favored is for the Philippines to bring the issue before the United Nations General Assembly (8%). In addition, 2% of Filipinos admit they do not know enough to state an opinion on the matter.