More than eight out of ten of Filipinos approve of the government’s war on drugs despite an increase in people who believe extrajudicial killings occur in the campaign, a private pollster revealed Monday.
Eighty-eight percent of Filipinos are backing the government’s anti-illegal drug war, even as 73 percent believe EJKs take place in its conduct, the Pulse Asia September 2017 Ulat ng Bayan survey showed.
Out of 1,200 respondents interviewed last September 24 – 30, 41 percent said they ‘truly’ support’ it while 47 said they ‘support’ the war on drugs.
Only two percent of those aware of the war on drugs did not support the campaign, while nine percent were undecided.
The wide approval of the anti-drug campaign spanned all socioeconomic classes, with 80 percent of class ABC, 89 percent of class D, and 88 percent of class E backing the initiative.
Majority believe EJKs occur in drug war, fear what happened to Kian Delos Santos
This support comes despite an increase in the number of Filipinos who believe extrajudicial killings take place in the campaign. It also comes amid fears that they or someone in their circle will suffer the same fate as 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos, who was killed in police anti-drug operations, allegedly for resisting arrest.
Seventy-three percent or more than seven of ten Filipinos interviewed said they believe EJKs occur as the government implements its anti-drug efforts. This is an increase of six percentage points from the 67 percent who said they believed this in June 2017.
Meanwhile, 20 percent of Filipinos said they do not believe EJKs happen in the drug war– down from the 29 percent in June. Seven percent of respondents refused to answer the question.
Respondents also revealed fears they or someone in their circle would be killed in the drug war.
Seventy-six percent of the 94 percent of respondents who who were aware of Kian Delos Santos’ death said they were either very worried or somewhat worried something similar would happen to them, a family member, or their acquaintances.
Delos Santos died in an anti-drug operation in Caloocan City on August 16. Police say he drew his firearm and “directly shot” at the police, which prompted them to fire back and kill the student.
His death sparked anger as CCTV footage revealed he was being dragged away by two policemen in civilian clothes the night of his death, contrary to police claims.
Only 11 percent of respondents said they were not worried the same would happen to them or someone they know, while 13 percent were undecided.
86 percent say operations were orderly
Despite this, most of the 77 percent of Filipinos who reported anti-illegal drug operations in their neighborhoods the past year said the operations went by smoothly.
Of those who said there were anti-drug operations in their barangay, 86 percent said the operations were orderly, 11 percent said they were violent, while 3 percent refused to answer.
However, 21 percent of those respondents also said someone was killed during the operations, to their knowledge.
Fourteen percent said someone was injured, 69 percent said someone was arrested, and 82 percent said someone surrendered in the course of the operations.
Church leaders’ role in rehabilitation of addicts
Many Filipinos also believe the church should play a role in the anti-drug campaign.
Pulse Asia said 58 percent or “a small majority” of Filipinos want leaders of the Catholic Church to assist in the rehabilitation of drug addicts.
Forty-six percent also said Church leaders should monitor anti-illegal drug campaign, while 40 said they should release statements expressing their concern on the deaths allegedly taking place from it.
Twenty-eight percent said the Church should assist in litigating alleged abusive law enforcers. Thirteen percent or one in ten Filipinos think the Church should have a hands-off approach towards the war on drugs.
Malacañang ‘pleased’ with support for anti-drug campaign
Malacañang, for its part, says it is pleased with the public’s support for the government’s anti-drug campaign.
In a statement released Monday, Presidential Spokesman Abella said the survey’s results “go to show that our people appreciate the administration’s efforts to reduce the incidence of crime and make the streets safer and the communities more peaceful.”
Abella also addressed fears EJKs are happening under the campaign’s implementation. He pinned fears of EJKs on mass media’s coverage of the killings of Kian delos Santos and other youths.
“We understand why many survey respondents may think so, given the massive media coverage of the Caloocan youth killings during the survey period,” he said.
He added, these suspicions must always be validated by investigation and evidence, which is the job of the Philippine National Police and National Bureau of Investigation.
The spokesman said the Palace is similarly concerned over the “unlawful” killings “possibly perpetrated” under the anti-drug campaign
“As we have previously said, even one death is one too many. The President has made it absolutely clear that killing unarmed suspects who do not resist arrest is never allowed and will be punished,” Abella said.
He also said the government has always been open to having the Catholic Church participate in the rehabilitation of addicts.
However, he appealed to the Catholic Church to “encourage” some of its leaders to be more “cautious” in their pronouncements. He said these leaders were at the core of the “division” within the Church supposedly preventing them from working with the government.
The government has recently transferred anti-drug operations from the PNP to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. Abella said with this change, the government expects the focus to shift to arrests of drug lords and narco-politicians, the curbing of smuggled drugs, and the prevention and rehabilitation of addiction.
“This new campaign against drugs will hopefully continue to win near-universal support, while addressing the public’s concern over unlawful suspect deaths,” Abella said.
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