AROUND 57 percent of Filipinos backed President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao, according to a poll conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS).

The June 23 to 26 survey found that 57 percent of the 92 percent of Filipino adults, who are aware of the imposition of martial rule in Mindanao, believed it "was the right decision."

Only 29 percent said martial law in strife-torn Mindanao should have been declared only in Marawi City and Lanao del Sur province while 11 percent said it should have been declared only in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur and nearby province.

On May 23, Duterte placed the southern Philippines under martial law after Islamic State-inspired extremists stormed into Marawi City to establish a caliphate for Southeast Asian terrorists.

The Chief Executive ordered the security forces to intensify offensives to wipe out the Islamist fighters and avert the possible spread of hostile acts to other areas of the country.

The survey showed that public awareness on Duterte's declaration of martial law was highest Mindanao, which was recorded at 98 percent. It was followed by Metro Manila and Visayas at both 93 percent, and Balance Luzon at 88 percent.

About 93 percent in urban areas knew about the imposed military rule in Mindanao, higher than 91 percent registered in rural areas.

Public awareness was highest in Class D (93 percent), followed by Classes ABC and E at 90 percent and 86 percent, respectively.

It was high among men and women, posting 93 percent and 91 percent of awareness, respectively.

On age group, 96 percent of individuals aged 25 to 34 years old were aware of martial law in Mindanao. It was followed by 35 to 44 years old group (92 percent); 55 years old and above group (90 percent); and 18 to 24 years old group (88 percent).

Awareness on Duterte's proclamation in Mindanao was highest among college graduates registered at 99 percent, followed by high school graduates (94 percent), elementary graduates (89 percent), and non-elementary graduates (84 percent).

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the public's affirmative response to the President's decision to implement martial law in Mindanao proved that it was supported by "factual and legal basis."

"The positive public response indicates that they believe the factual and legal basis of the proclamation of martial law for Mindanao, which includes the Maute group's attempt to remove allegiance from the government and to deprive the Chief Executive of his powers to enforce the laws and maintain public order and safety," Abella said.

When the Chief Executive declared martial law in Mindanao, he also floated the possibility of expanding it to Luzon and Visayas for fear that terror activities would become widespread.

According to SWS poll, around 63 percent disagreed that Duterte "should also declare martial law in the Visayas." Some 23 percent agreed while 13 percent were undecided on the matter.

The proportion of those who disagreed was highest in Visayas, which was at 79 percent. It was followed by Metro Manila (71 percent), Balance Luzon (68 percent), and Mindanao (43 percent).

About 67 percent also disagreed with the statement that the President "should also declare martial law in Luzon," 20 percent agreed, and 13 percent were ambivalent.

Disagreement was also dominant across the board, except in Mindanao. Some 79 percent of Filipinos in Metro Manila disagreed on the possible expansion in Luzon.

Seventy-six percent each in Balance Luzon and Visayas likewise opposed the expansion while 40 percent in Mindanao believed otherwise.

Abella said the possible expansion in Visayas and in Luzon "would depend on the situation on the ground, as assessed and recommended by military and police authorities."

The SWS interviewed 1,200 adult respondents, using sampling error margins of ±3 percentage points for national percentages and ±6 each for Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. (SunStar Philippines)