In a photo taken during his visit to the WESCOM headquarters in Palawan on March 26, General Romeo Brawner Jr., Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, is seen personally checking on the welfare of personnel injured in the most recent rotation and resupply mission. Also featured in the photo are Wescom Chief Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos (right) and PCG Commandant Admiral Ronnie Gil Gavan (standing second from left).

The military is studying the results of a survey conducted by OCTA Research, which found that many Filipinos are willing to go to war against foreign enemies.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Romeo Brawner Jr., during a recent visit to Palawan, expressed satisfaction that a significant majority of adult Filipinos are prepared to defend their homeland against foreign adversaries in the event of a conflict.

However, he pointed out the necessity for an in-depth review of the OCTA survey findings to ascertain their potential role in reinforcing the AFP’s reserve force, with the aim of improving surveillance and patrol activities in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

“It’s good that at least meron tayong realization from the Filipinos that we have to unite to protect our country,” Brawner said.

“We’re using that survey to encourage Filipinos to join the reserve force,” he added.

The military-commissioned survey by OCTA Research, carried out between December 10 and 14, 2023, involving 1,200 respondents, revealed that 77% of adult Filipinos, equivalent to 924 individuals, are ready to bear arms to protect their nation in case a conflict arise.

The survey results disclosed that a minimum of 60% of adult Filipinos across all major regions have expressed readiness to defend their country. Mindanao reported the highest willingness at 84%, while the Visayas showed the lowest at 62%.

The Davao Region and Caraga boast the highest percentage of adult Filipinos prepared to defend their nation against foreign adversaries, reaching 96%, followed closely by SOCCSKSARGEN at 95%.

OCTA’s research also said that there is a lower willingness among adult Filipinos in the Central Visayas (52%) and the Bicol Region (54%) to engage in conflict with a foreign foe on behalf of their country.

The result of the poll was published amid ongoing aggressive attempts by China to assert control over the West Philippine Sea, a situation that has led to frequent acts of hostility and intimidation against the country.

This is not the first time the military has expressed the desire to tap into its reserve forces for the WPS. In June 2023, Western Command Chief Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos stated their intention to expand the number of military reserve forces for patrolling the contested waters.

Carlos mentioned that incorporating reservists into the regular patrols in the WPS will enhance the Philippines’ initiative to amplify its military presence in the area, as the nation further asserts its territorial claims.

“This is an opportunity if we can integrate our reservists, subject to protocols and directives and guidance from higher headquarters, if we can accommodate in our regular patrols and not just in exercises so that we can level up the integration of our reservists in our operations,” Carlos said.

“Our purpose here is to increase our naval presence and show our flag which has been our resolve,” he added.

Brawner was in the city on March 26 to visit and provide support to wounded troops who are currently receiving treatment at the Camp Ricarte Station Hospital in Barangay San Miguel.

On March 23, soldiers en route to rotate onto the BRP Sierra Madre at Ayungin Shoal were impeded by China Coast Guard ships, which aggressively fired powerful water jets at their supply vessel, Unaizah May 4. Three of the 14 individuals aboard the boat were seriously injured.