QUEZON CITY — 70% of Filipinos want to assert territorial rights on West Philippine Sea (WPS) peacefully, according to the latest results of the survey of the OCTA Research & Development, Inc. (OCTA Research).

The survey was conducted from July 22-26, 2023 or before the “water cannon” incident and just after the “laser” incident in the WPS with the question: What Filipinos think of expanding Philippine military cooperation with the United States?

During Thursday’s (Aug. 17) Pandesal Forum at 84-year-old Kamuning Bakery in Quezon City moderated by Wilson Lee Flores, Assistant Professor Ranjit Rye, Founder & President of OCTA Research & Development, Inc.; said “They (Filipinos) want to expand diplomatic ties. They also support joint military exercises in the WPS.”

Prof. Rye, of the Political Science Department of the University of the Philippines and Assistant Vice President of UP, added “Majority (54%) of adult Filipinos are in favor of strengthening and expanding military cooperation between the United States and the Philippines to address the territorial dispute in the WPS.”

He noted that only 11 percent are not favorable while 32 percent are undecided.

“Sa publiko, klarong-klaro. We have to assert our rights,” Rye said.

However, the OCTA Research executive said “Ang paraan ng pagtanong ay nakakaapekto sa survey. Frame it in a very neutral way so that the public will not be confused.”

“Klaro sa ating mga kababayan. Tayo ang magsosolve, through diplomatic means, ng territorial dispute sa WPS,” Rye stressed.

“Naninindigan na ang ating mga kababayan na i-assert ang ating rights sa WPS. Nakikiaalam na ang mga kababayan natin na makiaalam na ang gobyerno sa WPS,” he said.

“It’s important to understand that majority of the Filipinos are now in favor of asserting our rights in the WPS,” Rye added.

The OCTA Research official noted that majority of the Filipinos support the expansion of EDCA (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement) between the Philippines and the United States and the strengthening of the military alliance with the United States, and more especially to deal with the conflict in the WPS. 

For his part, Dr. Guido David, Fellow of OCTA Research and UP Professor of Applied Mathematics said “70 percent of Adult Filipinos want to assert the Philippines’ territorial rights through diplomacy and other peaceful methods in the West Philippine Sea.”

“65 percent support asserting these rights via military action through expanded naval patrols and troop deployment in the WPS,” David added.

David, Director of Diliman Analytics, Inc., said “As far as the public is concerned, they are in full support, looks like, in the expansion of the EDCA between the Philippines and the United States.”

He added that the public is already signaling to the government to assert our country’s territorial rights and sovereignty in the WPS.

“The level of awareness ng ating kababayan sa WPS ay mataas na at 70 percent. At least masasabi nating majority of Filipinos are aware of the WPS issue,” David said.

“After noong umalis ang US bases, wala na tayong (Pilipinas) masyadong ‘external threats’,” he added.

It will be noted that the Clark Airforce Base in Angeles City, Pampanga and the Subic Naval Base in Olongapo City, Zambales were both abandoned after the destructive eruption of Pinatubo Volcano on July 16, 1991. – By Perfecto T. Raymundo, Jr.