MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang said on Thursday (21 November 2019) it couldn’t force Filipinos to like China but it said it is optimistic people will eventually appreciate Beijing because of the benefits that Manila gets from Beijing.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo issued this statement one day after a survey of Social Weather Stations showed that China remains the least trusted country among the Philippines with a net confidence score of -33 or “poor.”
Panelo said Malacañang “is not surprised by the results of the study and it does not feel affronted.”
He said the results of the survey “are predictable and understandable given China and our country’s opposing positions on the West Philippine Sea.”
“Despite the territorial dispute not being the sum total of our relationship with China, the Office of the President will neither court nor force any citizen to change his or her sentiments toward our giant neighbor in the north,” he said.
“We will respect their conviction the way we value their allegiance to the Republic and its elements,” he added.
In spite of Manila’s territorial conflict with Beijing in the West Philippine Sea, President Rodrigo Duterte has forged closer relations with China since taking office on June 30, 2016.
Duterte opposed the United Nations maritime decision benefiting the Philippines in exchange for economic benefits such as loans and funding of infrastructure.
“It is in our belief, however, that China, like any other country, will be eventually appreciated by the Filipinos by reason of the President’s independent foreign policy which has resulted in significant benefits favorable to the Philippines,” Panelo said.
“Verily, China could even become a role model of the Philippines in reducing, if not totally eradicating, poverty,” he added. (Chris Figueroa/IAMIGO/CNS)