SWS survey: Majority of Pinoys believe AFP can quell foreign threats, rebels, terrorists

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 05 2020 08:37 PM

Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Northern Luzon Command sing the Philippine national anthem at the peak of Mavulis island in Batanes in commemoration of National Flag Day, May 28, 2019. Jeff Canoy, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Most Filipinos believe the country's military can defend the Philippine territory, including the West Philippine Sea, against foreign threats and quell communist rebels and terrorists, a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey released Thursday showed.

This as the military got an "excellent" satisfaction rating, with at least 79 percent of Filipinos content with the military's performance, the survey showed. 

Among 1,200 adults surveyed in December, 15 percent were undecided and 5 percent were dissatisfied, survey results released Thursday showed. 

The survey showed that 62 percent of Filipinos have "much confidence" in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in asserting the country's sovereignty in the event foreign agents pose a danger in its territories, including the West Philippine Sea.

The West Philippine Sea is the country's exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea, which China claims in near entirety. The Chinese have continued incursions in the area, ignoring a 2016 ruling of a United Nations-backed tribunal invalidating its sweeping claims. 

The survey was released just as the Philippines terminated its Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States, the country's long-standing ally, as President Rodrigo Duterte's administration pushed for a self-reliant military. 

Majority of the public also believe the AFP could defeat members of rebel groups Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing the New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), and terrorist groups Abu Sayyaf (ASG) and Islamic State (IS), according to SWS.

The report showed that 79 percent of respondents had "much confidence" that the AFP could quell communist rebels, with 17 percent undecided and 4 having little confidence. 

Some 75 percent, meanwhile, expressed "much confidence" that the military could defeat terrorist groups. Some 19 percent were undecided and 6 percent had little confidence, the survey showed. 

The military has been pursuing operations against communist rebels after the collapse of peace negotiations, while offensives have been going on against terrorist groups linked to bomb attacks and kidnappings mostly in the restive south. 

Government has been working towards modernizing the military, which has long been grappling with aged or lacking equipment. 

The survey was conducted from December 13 to 16, 2019 using interviews from 300 adults each from Metro Manila, rest of Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.