MANILA - Eight in 10 Filipinos are worried a festering South China Sea territorial dispute could lead to "armed conflict" with the world's most populous nation, an independent polling outfit said.
Manila-based Social Weather Stations said yesterday this sentiment has weighed on people's minds since the Philippines backed down from a tense stand-off with China over control of rich fishing grounds around Scarborough Shoal in 2012.
The study showed 84 per cent of 1,200 respondents were "worried" about armed conflict with China. About half of those respondents were "worried a great deal" while more than a third were "somewhat worried".
Philippine presidential spokesman Abigail Valte said an armed conflict would not benefit anyone, which was why the government is pursuing peaceful means to resolve the dispute.
The Scarborough Shoal stand-off ended with Beijing taking control of the fishing area, which lies 220km off the main Philippine island of Luzon and 650km from China's Hainan island. China and the Philippines are also in dispute over other islands and reefs in the South China Sea, with the Philippines seeking arbitration from a United Nations- backed body.