PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. DUTERTE — REY BANIQUET/PPD
PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte kept his majority approval rating and remained the most trusted government official in June, weeks after a South China Sea incident that put his warm ties with Beijing on the spotlight.
Mr. Duterte’s approval rating was steady at 85 percent, just 2 points lower than a month earlier, according to a poll by Pulse Asia Research, Inc. His trust rating was unchanged at 85 percent.
His latest ratings come after a Filipino fishing boat sank after colliding with a Chinese vessel on June 9 at the disputed Reed Bank. The president has called the collision a “little” maritime incident.
Mr. Duterte had refused to take an aggressive stance, saying his government was not capable of going to war with China.
“The issue of human rights violations, vulgarity and even the Chinese intrusions are not sticking,” Louie C. Montemar, a sociology professor at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, said in a mobile phone message.
“In the minds of many, these are not things that will make them hungry. I think many still believe that relations with Beijing are still being handled well by the Davaoeño in Manila,” he added.
The approval rating of Vice-President Maria Leonor G. Robredo, who visited the 22 stranded fishermen, rose 6 points to 55 percent.
The Pulse Asia poll interviewed 1,200 adults from June 24 to 30 and has an error margin of +/- 2.8 points.
Mr. Duterte’s high ratings come even if majority of Filipinos think that the country should try to regain islets occupied by China and assert its rights in the disputed waterway.
The proportion of Filipinos who think the country should recover the islets from China has risen to 93 percent in June from 89 percent in December, according to the Social Weather Stations.
China has been building artificial islands in the disputed Spratly Islands and setting up installations including several runways. China claims sovereignty over more than 80 percent of the waterway based on its so-called nine-dash line drawn on a 1940s map.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte has sought closer investment and trade ties with Beijing, including over resources in the South China Sea, since taking power in 2016.
His predecessor, Benigno S. Aquino III, sued China before an international arbitration tribunal over its territorial claims, and won. He also strengthened Philippine alliance with the US to try to check China’s expansion in the main waterway. — Arjay L. Balinbin