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Survey: Marines well-loved in Sulu

Eighty percent of Sulu residents trust the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and 98 percent credit it for securing their communities. These emerged from a recent survey in the island province made infamous by the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group. Sulu in the ’70s to early ’80s also saw separatists fiercely fighting government troops.

Of the 98 percent who consider the AFP as the greatest impact to local security, 50 percent believe it is making their place a lot safer. Respondents basically were referring to the Philippine Marines, the most visible AFP unit to Sulu locals. The Marine Corps has two brigades consisting of six battalions in the island. Jointly with visiting US forces, they hold medical-dental checkups, erect schoolhouses, dig drainage, and perform other “civil-military operations.” Congratulations are in order for Marine Corps commandant Maj. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, and Naval Forces-Western Mindanao commander Rear Adm. Armando Guzman.

The survey was designed by TNS Philippines and made last Dec. 3-15 with the help of the Notre Dame of Jolo College. Simultaneous polls were done in five other conflict affected areas in Mindanao: Zamboanga, Isabela City, Basilan, Cotabato, and Marawi. The margin of error for Sulu was ±4 percent; in all the survey areas, ±2 percent. Follow-up polls will be made this month.

Compared to the 80-percent trust rating of the AFP in Sulu, it notched 67 percent in the other conflict areas.

Sulu respondents expressed slightly more trust in extremist armed groups than the rest of the conflict zones. But on the whole such trust ratings were less than 20 percent. In contrast, nearly 70 percent of Sulu respondents and more than 60 percent in the other areas consider the Abu Sayyaf a threat. No Sulu family would allow a member to join a terrorist band. Eighty-four percent of Sulu residents feel safe in their communities, almost the same as the rest of the conflict areas, 86 percent.

Most respondents are aware of rewards offered by the government to individuals and groups who help in the capture of armed extremists. But only 23 percent of Sulu respondents and 32 percent in the other conflict zones said they would avail of such rewards. The main reason cited to shun rewards is the fear of retribution.

The survey looked as well into the education, income, employment and lifestyle of respondents. Many more Sulu respondents than in other conflict areas had no electricity, TV sets, mobiles, Internet, radio, running water, refrigerators, or two-wheeled transport in their homes.

The survey would come in handy for Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao. More so when he embarks, on orders of Malacañang, on a drive against loose firearms.
The Philippine Star
March 02, 2012 12:00 AM


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