• Do you fear you’ll be extrajudicially killed?

    Ricardo Saludo

    Ricardo Saludo

    Quick: Rank the following causes of death from most to least frequent:

    Accidents_ Cancer _ Extrajudicial Killings _ Heart Attack _ Pneumonia _ Stroke _.

    Here’s the order of deadliness, extrapolated from 2013 mortality data: heart attack, stroke, cancer, pneumonia, accidents — the top five causes of death in the country — and way below, EJKs.

    Every year, heart disease kills about 100 people per 100,000 population. Strokes and other diseases affecting blood vessels are fatal to about 60 per 100,000. Some 45 succumb to cancer, and nearly 40 to pneumonia, just slightly more than accidents.

    And EJKs? If one doubles the 6,000-plus drug-related killings since July to extrapolate an annual rate, the 12,000 rough figure would amount to 12 deaths per 100,000. So the chances of being extrajudicially killed is one-third to one-eighth the likelihood of dying by the top five causes of death.

    So why do four out of every five Filipinos worry that a family member would be an EJK victim? That’s surely far more than those fretting over cardiac arrest, artery rupture or blockage, respiratory disease, malignant neoplasm, and fatal mishap?

    In Social Weather Stations’ survey on the narco-crackdown and its casualties, conducted Dec. 3-6, fully 45 percent of its 1,500 adult respondents told SWS they were very worried over a family member possibly falling victim to extra-judicial killings. Another 33 percent were somewhat worried.

    That’s 78 percent getting fidgety over EJKs. One wonders if heart attacks or accidents worry as many Filipinos.

    Cheering and fearing the police
    Why the widespread anxiety over a far less fatal cause of death? Could it be that four-fifths of adults have drug users or traffickers in their families, who might then be killed?

    Nope. Estimates of drug addicts range between 3 million and 5 million, not even one-tenth of the 103 million projected population this year.

    Maybe respondents know of law-abiding folks like them who were killed for allegedly trading or using narcotics, even if they never touched the stuff. So even the innocent feel threatened.

    If that’s so, then why did 84 percent of respondents in another SWS survey in September, express satisfaction with President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-narcotics war, with just 8 percent dissatisfied?

    In all regions, the campaign’s ratings were excellent: 90 percent satisfied in Mindanao, 87 percent in Metro Manila, 85 percent in the Visayas, and 80 percent in Luzon outside the metropolis.

    By income level, 86 percent of the E class expressed satisfaction, and 84 percent among the other income segments. And four-fifths also believed the crackdown did not discriminate against the poor, despite media reports saying so.

    Now, would anyone feel satisfied with a crackdown, no matter how much it reduced drugs, if there was a more-than-minuscule chance of he or his loved ones being killed? No way.

    Yet SWS reports that four-fifths of Filipinos are satisfied with the anti-drug war, and about the same number fear being murdered in it.

    Are you or anyone you know one of those cheering and fearing the drug-hunting police?

    Plainly, public concern over EJKs as surveyed by SWS reflects not the true chance of being killed, but perceptions shaped by constant news coverage of anti-drug casualties.

    How serious is serious?
    There’s another interesting set of matching SWS scores: those who say the killings problem is serious, and those who believe the Duterte administration is serious about solving cases of extrajudicial killings.

    Fully 39 percent of respondents think the EJK problem is very serious, just one percentage point more than those who believe the government is serious in getting to the bottom of those murders.

    For those who deem the problem somewhat serious, along with efforts to solve cases, the scores are 30 percent and 32 percent, respectively.

    In sum, those surveyed mostly consider EJKs a grave issue, but trust the police in solving them.

    This despite unceasing and graphic media coverage of killings, but hardly any reports about cases solved and perpetrators charged and arrested.

    How serious is serious?
    The chance that suspects being arrested would die is about 5 percent: 2,102 killed in police operations, and 40,932 arrested, as of mid-December. But some 4,000 have been murdered not by police, but suspected vigilantes.

    Meanwhile, nearly nine out of ten respondents strongly or somewhat agree that “From the time Rody Duterte became president, there has been a decrease in the drug problem in my area.”

    There are hardly any extensive press reports of big declines in drug trafficking and use nationwide. Hence, people must have seen less of it in their area, as well as scores of addicts and pushers surrendering. Some 800,000 have reported to police.

    One more statistic to ponder: Nearly all respondents believe it is “important” to keep drug suspects alive in anti-narcotics operations.

    Not surprising: hardly anyone would say that protecting lives, even of criminals, is unimportant, especially in a devoutly Christian nation. What would have been a more revealing question is: “Do you agree or disagree that the many deaths in the anti-drug campaign was the key factor behind the surrender of hundreds of thousands of drug users and pushers?”

    If a significant number say yes, that explains why people overwhelmingly support the anti-drug campaign, despite the surveyed fears and concerns over EJKs.

    Now, what should President Duterte and his government do about the SWS polls?

    Answer: Nothing.

    Safeguarding the nation from crime and drugs, and protecting suspects’ lives and rights should both be pursued, whether they win one percent or 101 percent public approval.

    For sure, any crackdown on lawlessness spawns some excesses, like the 5 percent of suspects killed, compared with total arrests. And we lament and condemn the roughly 6,000 total deaths, including 4,000 suspected vigilante victims, even as we laud the surrender of 800,000-plus offenders.

    Whatever the approval ratings, one EJK is still one murder too many. Survey or no survey, the government must move resolutely to fight drugs without murdering suspects.

    How do we do that? Let’s talk about that next week.

    (A Blessed Christmas and a Joyous New Year to all!)


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    1. Ill wage my war in spiritual..

      Father God, You have made it known that the battle here in this world is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against principalities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. And the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. That in the Name of Jesus Christ, every stronghold in our land will fall down, the stronghold of love of mammon, stronghold of idolatry, stronghold of corruption and violence shall all bow down in the Name of Jesus. That the work of darkness shall be exposed, For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light. And Your Words shall extinguish all forms of darkness that are emanating in the land of Philippines. That God’s righteousness will prevail and reign in our nation because righteousness exalts a nation. And this I claim to be a portion of our nation as You will it, In Jesus most Precious Name I pray! Amen

    2. Any survey on EJKs is intented to mislead the public. First of all, we do not have any kind of Judicial Killing at all in the PH. Secondly since we do not have JK then we can’t have Extra Judicial Killing. The number of deaths being thrown around is the total number of dead. From that number we need to see the number killed by police, the number killed by others, and the number of other deaths. Then we can start to see what is happening. My guess is that the number killed by police is dropping while the number killed by others is rising.

      At least then we can ask a real survey question. “Are you afraid that you or one of your family members will be killed by the police?”

    3. I fear Duterte’ s Leadership| because he will make PH Fall :P

      Digong=Kills + Unstable Mind + Unethical Words and Actions + Immoral Values :P

      I see him as the Kamatayan in Living Form| it’ s like the end is near for the PH. At the end of the day, it is like the remaining population of PH are all Digong’ s Allies, and his critics are all dead :P

      In a kids mind| Duterte is the Skull on a He-Man Cartoon TV Show. I am plainly speaking of truth, no lies here. There’ s no Heaven in Digong’ s World| PH can be considered the Land of the Living Dead. People only became worst when he took office| I can hear children and the old saying Duterte’ s famous line: “Papatayin ko kayo!!”- now I ask, what kind of future can Duterte give PH? HELL?

    4. What is the main objective of war on drugs? To protect the lives of innocent people from harm including unnecessary and costly death. Heart attack, stroke, cancer, pneumonia, accidents are all attributable to alcohol and cigarettes: two dangerous chemical substance or drugs that this government does not want to touch nor include in its war on drugs. Why?

    5. Only wealthy with kids who are drug addicts/ or plain citizen whose family members are into dangerous drugs fared EJK but to law abiding citizens of the country we don`t fear . In fact most are happy of the changes the peaceful environments e.g.(streets, travelling in the evening/days,kids coming home from school, going to dangerous places not being bothered, Airport security etc)
      This are the silent 85% majority who says Pres.Duterte is doing it right.

      Continue Pres. Duterte people appreciate it… please give us assurance that only criminal will fear and trimble..

    6. A nice and thoughtful article.

      It would be interesting if the country really explores the leading causes of death in this country. It may very well be that these are not really ‘natural’ causes. Instead, it may reflect gross inequities in the health care, economic, educational systems, etc.

      I think the current administration remains popular with the people because it touches the people where their concerns are the greatest. Education, health care, national infrastructure, jobs, crime, the economy, and peace. Sadly, much of the media circus is focused on very narrow and simplistic issues. I’m not saying the current administration is perfect by any means. But the quality of much of the reporting and analysis really leaves much to be desired.

      There are serious problems facing the country – that claims more lives daily, that dehumanizes more people, in numbers that far exceeds the problem with EJK’s. The media should be listening to what the people are saying. It speaks volumes about what is really wrong with the country. That it sometimes distorts what the people are saying also speaks volumes about what is really wrong with the country.

      So just why is the average lifespan of a Singaporean about 82 years, while the lifespan of a Filipino is about 68 years? Why is the per capita expenditure on health care in Singapore almost $1,900 and about $90 in the Philippines? I could go on and on. Might I suggest that these kinds of statistics say something about the real causes of death and the real crimes in the country? As imperfect as the current administration is, I’d say that it has set its sights on some of these real issues in a significant way. And I think that is what the public is responding to in its support of the administration.

      The media needs to stop treating the people like they are fools. Yes, they may lack in education and sophistication, but they are the real barometers of what is happening in the streets and in the homes. And no amount of fiddling with surveys will change that. These voices need to be heard. I give the current administration points for listening and trying to address real issues and problems.

    7. Why do you believe the SWS when it is a propaganda instrument of the yellow tribe? They always ask questions that they can spin in your favor or against you, depending on your political colors. They should ask this question instead, ” “Do you agree that all the yellow criminal hypocrites should be executed in public and televised live nationwide?” Im willing to bet the reply will be a deafening yes. As for surveys, its about time the government establish its own survey agency and expand the scope of its National Statistics Office. Tit for tat propaganda using surveys which is the tried and tested yellow method in waging political warfare. I think this is a great idea.