Criminal violence and terrorism top security concerns among Filipinos, says new poll

Criminal violence and terrorism are the top security concerns among Filipinos, according to a survey of 15 countries commissioned by International Alert and the British Council. This is followed by ‘violence from state authorities’.

The Peace Perceptions Poll 2018, conducted in partnership with global polling agency RIWI, found that over a quarter of Filipino respondents said ‘lack of jobs or the need to provide for their families’ was the main reason that would drive people to violent action. This was followed by ‘a sense of injustice’.

Respondents said the most effective way of creating long-term peace is through ‘supporting societies and communities to resolve conflict peacefully’ and ‘dealing with the reasons why people fight in the first place’. Their third choice was to ‘negotiate a peace agreement with political leaders’, and they found the ‘use of the military to address violence’ the least effective means to achieve peace in the long-term.

When asked where their government should spend more to promote peace, the respondents felt it should prioritise ‘dealing with the reasons why people fight in the first place,’ followed by ‘teaching peace, tolerance and conflict resolution in schools’. Rebuilding infrastructure and ‘military interventions’ ranked bottom.

Nikki Philline de la Rosa, International Alert’s Country Manager in the Philippines, said that although the poll reached mostly urban areas outside the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the results affirm International Alert’s work of examining the roots of conflict in the region that has long suffered from protracted violence brought about by the communist insurgency and Moro rebellion.

“New types of war, such as violent extremism, have also wreaked unprecedented havoc, as in the case of Marawi City, because of a multitude of factors, including clan feuds over political resources, governance issues, and control over land,” she explained.

“We have emphasized time and again how rebuilding structures and executing military action are never enough in addressing the strings of violence caused by interlinking factors. The Bangsamoro Organic Law is a win in the decades-old peace process between the government and the rebels, and we hope that this will heal fissures in relationships and foster genuine autonomy, peace and development in the region in the long run,” de la Rosa said.

“However,” she added, “it is important that the causes of conflict are also addressed at the onset by ensuring education, gainful employment, and the chance to participate in governance, especially for Moro women and youth who would otherwise be more vulnerable to the influence of violent extremism.”

According to the Peace Perceptions Poll, a third of the respondents felt they had more influence over the political decisions that affect them, compared to five years ago. They said this was mainly thanks to ‘technology and social media’.

Those with lower levels of education generally felt they had less influence over political decisions.

Over 110,000 people participated in the survey, which was carried out online in Brazil, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Hungary, India, Lebanon, Myanmar, Nigeria, the Philippines, South Africa, Syria, Tunisia, Ukraine, the United States of America and the United Kingdom.

Key Global Findings:

  • Those living in more peaceful countries tended to be more pessimistic about future prospects for peace. The UK, Brazil, the US and Hungary had the largest numbers thinking peace and security would get worse over the next five years.
  • Lack of jobs and ability to provide for one’s family was widely seen as the top reason that would drive people to violent action. This was followed by a sense of injustice and a need to improve one’s social status.
  • Globally, terrorism and criminal violence were people’s top security concerns.
  • Political and economic inclusion were universally regarded as fundamental to peace and security.
  • Globally, people said the two most important means of achieving long-term peace were establishing why conflicts start and supporting societies to deal with conflict peacefully.
  • When asked where governments should spend more to promote peace, ‘dealing with the reasons why people fight in the first place’ ranked first in 10 of the 15 countries, followed by ‘teaching peace, tolerance and conflict resolution in schools’.
  • Having political influence, and access to economic opportunities were globally regarded as fundamental to peace and security.
  • The DRC and South Africa perceived the highest levels of political exclusion, with 50% and 44% of the population respectively saying they are less able to influence the political decisions that affect them, compared to 5 years ago. This was followed by the UK, Hungary and the US.
  • Across the majority of countries polled, corruption in politics was cited as the number one reason why people felt they had less political influence. This was most strongly felt in South Africa, Ukraine and Nigeria.
  • Those who thought they had more political influence attributed it extensively to social media and technology.
  • Those who felt most economically excluded generally lived in middle- to high-income countries, including Hungary, Ukraine, the UK, Lebanon, the US and South Africa. This shows that the perception of economic exclusion is as important as the reality.

Note to editors:

  • “Peace Perceptions Poll 2018”, will be globally launched at the UN on 21 September, International Day of Peace
  • For media inquiries, to arrange interviews contact Taraneh Dadar TDadar@international-alert.org/M: +44(0)7775 756288/T: +44(0)2076276880