Despite Duterte foreign policy, Filipinos still trust U.S. the most – poll

MANILA, Philippines – Despite the perceived cooler ties between the Philippines and the United States under the Duterte administration, the superpower continues to be the most trusted foreign country among Filipinos, according to a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey released on Thursday, March 2.

The SWS held the survey in early December 2016 but released the results – first published in BusinessWorld on Thursday – only 3 months later. SWS said it included in the poll specific countries "based on their relevance to foreign affairs": Australia, China, Japan, Russia, and the US.

The survey was conducted among 1,500 adults: 600 in Balance Luzon, and 300 each in Metro Manila, Visayas, and Mindanao. Sampling error margins are at ±3% for national percentages, ±4% for Balance Luzon, and ±6% each for Metro Manila, Visayas, and Mindanao.

The survey results showed that the US maintained its "very good" net trust rating of +59 among Filipinos in December 2016 – making it still the top foreign country trusted by Filipinos. This is in the same category as its "very good" +66 net rating in September 2016.

Australia and Japan were tied as second most trusted among Filipinos, both with a "good" trust rating of +37.

Russia, China ratings up

Russia and China are apparently reaping the fruits of President Rodrigo Duterte's "independent foreign policy," based on the survey results. 

Though having the lowest net trust rating among Filipinos – both with a "neutral" net trust rating of +9 – the December 2016 figures of the two countries are significant improvements over their previous ratings. 

Russia obtained a "poor" -17 net trust rating in September 2015 – the last SWS poll it was included in, while China scored a "bad" -33 net trust rating among Filipinos in September 2016.

The last time China obtained a "neutral" net trust rating was in March 2012, when it got +10.

Duterte has often mentioned Russia and China as countries that he wants the Philippines to forge stronger ties with.

He personally relayed this desire in meetings with both countries' leaders – during his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing last year, and in a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders' Summit in Peru in November 2016.

In the case of the US, Duterte had warmed up to new President Donald Trump who, the Philippine leader had said on several occasions, even praised his controversial campaign against illegal drugs. 

The SWS terminology for net sincerity ratings are the following: excellent +70 and up; very good +50 to +69; good +30 to +49; moderate +10 to +29; neutral -9 to +9; poor -29 to -10; bad -49 to -30; and very bad, -69 to -50.

SWS used the following questions on public trust in the survey:

Pag-usapan po natin ang tungkol sa ilang bansa. Sa mga sumusunod, maaari po bang sabihin ninyo kung ang pagtitiwala ninyo sa (bansa) ay napakalaki, medyo malaki, hindi tiyak kung malaki o maliit, medyo maliit, napakaliit, o wala pa kayong narinig o nabasa kahit na kailan tungkol sa (bansa)? Pakisabi ang sagot ninyo sa pamamagitan ng paglagay ng mga kard sa naaangkop na lugar sa rating board na ito.

(Let's now talk about some countries. For the following, please indicate if your trust/faith in (country) is very much, somewhat much, undecided if much or little, somewhat little, very little, or you have not heard or read anything about the (country) ever? You may indicate your answers by placing each card on the appropriate box on this rating board.)

Jee Y. Geronimo/Rappler.com