SWS: AFP enjoys rising satisfaction rating, shedding bad image of the past | Inquirer News
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SWS: AFP enjoys rising satisfaction rating, shedding bad image of the past

/ 08:48 PM March 04, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Filipinos are generally satisfied with the performance of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in recent years, according to a leading Philippine pollster.

Public satisfaction rating of the Philippine military is on the rise since 2015, said Vladimyr Joseph Licudine, Social Weather Stations deputy director, at a forum on Wednesday (March 4).

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One of the key drivers of increasing satisfaction with the AFP was its victory against terrorism in Marawi City in 2017.

Homegrown terror groups, linked with Islamic State, and a few dozen foreign fighters occupied part of Marawi City for five months in 2017 in a bid to establish a Southeast Asian IS caliphate in the only Muslim city in the Philippines. It was the biggest security crisis in the Philippines in recent years and the biggest under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

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“Marawi had a great impact on them,” Licudine said of the AFP’s rising satisfaction rating. The military’s retaking of Marawi “has something to do with their image right now,” he said.

The war on terror in Marawi, he said, gave the AFP “appreciation” and “sympathy.”

The military’s role in saving lives during disasters and calamities also helped boost public satisfaction with it.

“A big part of the image of the AFP is disaster operations,” said the SWS official. Some of the most well-known disasters in which the AFP played a big role in rescue and evacuations were supertyphoon Yolanda, the Mindanao quakes and trapped miners.

Local television dramas that portray life in the military had also helped draw a positive public image for the AFP, Licudine said.

“You will also notice the trend in our TV stations,” he said. “The last two years there are so many teleseryes that depict the military in a good light, etc.,” Licudine said.

He said dissatisfaction with the AFP was high around 2003 during the Oakwood mutiny and in 2012 when the military was reeling from revelations at the Senate on corruption involving former military comptroller Carlos Garcia.

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Latest SWS survey results show the military continued to be popular among the people.

Results of the survey, conducted from Dec. 13 to 16, 2019, found that 79 percent of respondents are satisfied with the AFP and 5 percent were dissatisfied. The AFP’s net satisfaction rating was +74.

Respondents have also expressed belief that the Philippine military can do its job well in fighting communist rebels, terrorists and confronting foreign threats.

Licudine said 79 percent of respondents had expressed confidence that the military can defeat the New People’s Army, while 4 percent are pessimistic and 17 percent are undecided.

He said respondents in the Visayas—where the military operations against the NPA are mainly focused—have much higher confidence in the armed forces, at 85 percent, among all areas surveyed.

On terrorism, 75 percent of respondents expressed confidence the military could beat terror groups, like the Abu Sayyaf, while 6 percent has little confidence and 19 percent is undecided.

Trust in the military’s handling of territorial disputes with China in the West Philippine Sea and other foreign threats was lower but still considered high. Survey results showed 62 percent of respondents was confident in the ability of the AFP. At least 26 percent is undecided while 12 percent has little confidence.

The survey has 1,200 respondents nationwide: 300 each from Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. It has an error margin of plus or minus 3 percent for national percentages and plus or minus 6 percent for Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

The survey on the military was part of a nationwide public opinion poll and was not fully commissioned by the AFP.

AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, at the same forum, said the high ratings can be attributed to the AFP’s commitment to excellence and professionalism.

“This is a departure from the previous image of the AFP as oppressors and human rights violators,” he said.

The modernization program and support of other government agencies contributed to the public’s satisfaction with the AFP, he added.

Edited by TSB

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