MOST Filipinos are concerned over China’s deployment of surface-to-air missiles from the Paracel Island in the South China Sea in February even as a majority remain undecided on the wisdom of arbitration proceedings between the Philippines and China, according to the latest The Standard Poll.
Seventy-seven percent of respondents across the country were either very concerned or somewhat concerned over the missile deployment. The numbers for Metro Manila, South Luzon and Bicol and the Visayas were even higher at 82 percent, 80 percent and 78 percent, respectively.
Seventy-four percent of North and Central Luzon respondents said they were concerned while 71 percent of those in Mindanao said the same.
It was in Mindanao and the Visayas where respondents were most undecided at 19 percent and 17 percent, respectively.
Despite this development in the South China Sea, however, a significant plurality remain undecided on whether it was right or wrong to pursue the arbitration proceedings with China.
The Philippines has lodged an arbitration complaint before the Permanent Court of Arbitration, a body under the United Nations, in The Hague. The PCA had acknowledged jurisdiction over the issue but China has refused to participate in the proceedings.
Nationwide, 44 percent of respondents said they were undecided on the arbitration issue, with 35 percent saying it was right and 22 percent saying it was wrong.
In Metro Manila, 46 percent were undecided, 39 percent said it was right and 15 percent said it was wrong.
Respondents from the Visayas were most undecided at 62 percent, with 25 percent saying arbitration is right and 12 percent saying it was wrong.
The highest percentage of those who believed arbitration was right came from Northern and Central Luzon at 43 percent, with 20 percent believing it was wrong and 37 percent undecided.
In South Luzon and Bicol, 42 percent believed arbitration was right, 25 percent said it was wrong, with 34 percent undecided.
In Mindanao, 42 percent were undecided, and more people believed arbitration was wrong at 32 percent; 26 percent of respondents believed it was right.
Among respondents from urban areas, 40 percent were undecided, 30 percent believed arbitration was right with 21 percent believing it was wrong.
Among respondents from rural areas, 47 percent were undecided, 31 percent said arbitration was right and 22 percent said it was wrong.
The Standard Poll was conducted in 79 provinces among 3,000 biometrically registered voters between Feb. 24 and March 1 this year. The national figures have a margin of error of plus/minus 1.8 percent.