MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Thursday said it could not force Filipinos to like China but is optimistic that Beijing would eventually be appreciated by the people because of the benefits Manila is getting from Beijing.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued this statement a day after a Social Weather Stations survey showed China remains to be the least trusted country among Filipinos with a net trust rating of -33 or “bad.”
Panelo said Malacañang “is not surprised, as it does not feel affronted, with the results of the survey.”
He said the survey results “are foreseeable and understandable given the conflicting positions of China and our country relative to 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.
Since he assumed office on June 30, 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte has forged warmer ties with China despite Manila’s maritime dispute with Beijing in the West Philippine Sea.
Duterte set aside the United Nations sea ruling favoring the Philippines in exchange for economic perks like loans and infrastructure funding.
“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.
Edited by MUF
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