Military to hire survey firm in rebel fight

PNS — THE military will hire a survey company such as Social Weather Stations or Pulse Asia to evaluate its anti-insurgency campaign in the rebel-infested areas, Armed Forces chief Gen. Ricardo David Jr. said Tuesday.

David said the surveys will be used simultaneously with the Armed Forces’ new Bayanihan or internal peace and security program, which takes a four-pronged approach focusing on the peace talks with the rebels, military operations, developmental projects, and human rights reforms.

“These are very important parameters, but one of the parameters we want to have is the pulse of the people,” David said.

Scientific surveys would give the military a better idea of how well or poorly it was doing in winning the hearts and minds of the people, he said.

One objective of such surveys would be to identify the center of gravity and degree of influence of rebel groups such as the New People’s Army and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the areas where they operate.

“There are some areas where the center of gravity is where the bulk of the firearms are, and this is one of the very important objectives for our tactical units,” David said.

“We need to take the firearms from the enemy because these are tools of violence.”

The surveys will be conducted primarily in Davao, northeast Mindanao, the Bicol peninsula, Negros and Samar, where the communist rebels are active, as well as in Cotabato, where the Moro insurgents operate.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the surveys will determine the military’s strong points and shortcomings.

“You have to know your shortcomings and strong and weak points,’’ he said.