THE Palace on Saturday said President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration was “on the right track in fighting criminality” after it got a high approval rating in suppressing crime in the latest Pulse Asia survey.
“The survey result shows once and for all that we are on the right track in fighting criminality,” Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said in a statement.
“It remains one of the five most urgent national concerns of Filipinos while avoiding being a victim of any serious crime is one of their five most urgent personal concerns,” he added.
Andanar issued the statement in reaction to the December Pulse Asia survey that saw the government score the highest approval rating for efforts to fight crime, at 84 percent.
The government however scored lower in curbing inflation or the increase in prices of goods and services. In the survey, 44 percent of 1,200 respondents approved of the government’s initiatives in curbing inflation while some 20 percent disapproved. It attained a net approval rating of +24.
Andanar said the country recorded higher inflation last December as holiday consumption drove up food prices.
“Price increases partly due to the Christmas holiday season which were pushed up by increases in gasoline prices led to higher inflation in December 2016 – the time when the survey was conducted,” Andanar said.
“We therefore anticipated that people would feel the price pinch and we expect inflation to even go higher in early 2017 because of the damage to rice fields due to the onslaught of typhoons Karen, Lawin, and Nina,” he said.
The Palace official said measures were being taken to mitigate consumer price shocks.
Inflation rose to 2.6 percent in December, from 1.5 percent the previous year. The full-year average settled at 1.8 percent, below the government’s 2- to 4-percent target range for 2016. This year’s government inflation target range is also at 2 to 4 percent.
‘Like Lee Kuan Yew’
Also on Saturday, the Palace defended Duterte’s approach to crime after an international human rights group included Duterte among “strongman leaders” who have ignored the rule of law.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a radio interview Duterte was a “man of action.”
United States-based Human Rights Watch said Friday Duterte had “openly called for summary executions of suspected drug dealers and users — and even of human rights activists who defend them.”
“The killings have highlighted the country’s long-standing problem of impunity for abusive state security forces,” Human Rights Watch said.
“Duterte has ignored calls for an official probe into these killings. Instead, he has said the killings show the success of his anti-drug campaign and urged police to seize the momentum,” it added.
Duterte has been unfazed by criticisms of his deadly war on drugs, in which more than 6,200 suspects have been killed in police operations or by unknown assailants.
Abella compared Duterte with the late Singaporean prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, an authoritarian leader who transformed Singapore from a sleepy British imperial outpost into a global trading and financial hub.
“The President is very, very decisive. He is a man of action…[Like] Lee Kuan Yew, you know, [he was also very
strict]when he was still in leadership but then you can also see the progress of the nation,” Abella said.
Lee, however, did not carry out a bloody war against crime. In September, a Singapore Straits Times columnist dismissed such comparison, saying Lee “was not a man to have a person’s life taken away without absolute attention to due process.”