Filipinos want Philippines to regain control of disputed South China Sea islands

Protesters carrying placards shout anti-China slogans during a rally in Manila, on July 9, 2019.
Protesters carrying placards shout anti-China slogans during a rally in Manila, on July 9, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

MANILA (DPA) - Almost all Filipinos believe it is important for the Philippines to regain control of islands occupied by China in the disputed South China Sea, according to a nationwide survey.

A total of 93 per cent of 1,200 adults queried nationwide said it was "very" and "somewhat" important "that the control of the islands that China currently occupies in the (South China Sea) be given back to the Philippines", Manila-based research firm Social Weather Stations (SWS) said in a statement released on Wednesday night (July 10).

Only a total of 2 per cent said it was "somewhat not" and "not at all" important for the Philippines to regain control of the islands occupied by China, while 4 per cent were undecided, according to the results of the survey conducted on June 22-26.

SWS said the percentage of Filipinos with the same sentiment has been increasing in the past four surveys on the matter since June 2018.

"The latest figure of 93 per cent is 4 points above the 89 per cent in December 2018," the research firm said. "It was 87 per cent in September 2018, and also 87 per cent in June 2018.

"Calls for government actions regarding the West Philippine Sea has grown substantially," the firm added, calling the disputed area by its Philippine reference.

A total of 89 per cent said it was not right for the Philippine government "to leave China alone with its infrastructures and military presence in the claimed territories", according to SWS.