SUPPORT for President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs is the “majority sentiment” among Filipinos, although most believe that extrajudicial killings (EJKs) occured in the campaign, according to the latest Pulse Asia survey released on Monday.
The poll, from September 24 to 30, showed that 88 percent of the surveyed respondents supported the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign.
Only two percent of respondents did not support the drug campaign while nine percent were unable to say if they supported it or not.
The same survey showed that 73 percent of respondents believed that EJKs were occurring in the government’s drug war.
A fifth of Pulse respondents said they did not believe EJKs were happening while seven percent declined to answer.
Pulse Asia noted that the increase in the percentage of Filipinos who believed EJKs were taking place fell short of statistical significance, as it was within the error margin of ±6 percentage points.
It however said there was a “notable increase” of respondents from Mindanao who believed that EJKs occurred, at 67 percent from 50 percent.
The survey was conducted through face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults 18 years old and above. The margin of error for national results was at ±3 percent, and ±6 percent for subnational results.
Prior to the survey, the police killing of teenager Kian de los Santos dominated the headlines, fanning public outrage and criticism of Duterte’s war on drugs. Two more teenagers were later killed: Carl Angelo Arnaiz and Reynaldo de Guzman.
Pulse Asia said 94 percent of respondents knew about the case of de los Santos, with most of them or 76 percent expressing concern that they or someone they knew might also be killed because of the war on drugs.
At the national level and across geographic areas and socioeconomic classes, 90 percent to 98 percent of Filipinos heard, read or watched the news about de los Santos’ killing on August 16 in Caloocan City.
Of the 76 percent, 43 percent were “very worried” about the possibility of this happening to them or someone they knew, while 34 percent were “somewhat worried.”
Thirteen percent were ambivalent and 11 percent were not worried.
Drug war in the barangay
The same survey also showed that 77 percent of Filipinos were aware of anti-illegal drug operations conducted in their barangay or villages.
Pulse Asia said 86 percent of those surveyed characterized these drug war operations as orderly, 69 percent reported awareness of someone being either arrested, and 82 percent reported of awareness of someone having surrendered.
Pulse Asia said awareness was higher in Metro Manila and Mindanao (83 percent to 88 percent) than in the Visayas (65 percent).
Non-awareness was reported by 21 percent of Filipinos while two percent refused to answer the survey question.
Fifty-eight percent of Filipinos would like the leaders of the Catholic Church to assist in the rehabilitation of drug addicts.
“This is the preferred action of most Filipinos across areas and classes (53 percent to 64 percent and 54 percent to 60 percent, respectively),” Pulse Asia said.
Moreover, 46 percent of Filipinos said the leaders of the Catholic Church should monitor the conduct of the anti-illegal drugs campaign while 40 percent said they should release statements expressing their concern about the deaths that had taken place.
“Both options have the support of most Visayans (51 percent and 52 percent, respectively),” Pulse Asia said.
Twenty-eight percent of Filipinos said the Catholic Church leadership should assist in litigating abusive law enforcers.
Only 13 percent of Filipinos would like Church leaders to take a hands-off policy on the war on drugs, while 11 percent wanted them to embark on an international campaign to exert pressure on the Duterte administration to suspend “Oplan Tokhang.”
Amid domestic and international pressure, the Philippine National Police on Thursday ended Oplan Tokhang after the President transferred the responsibility for the anti-drug campaign to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
Malacañang on Monday welcomed the latest Pulse Asia survey.
“We are pleased with Pulse Asia’s September 2017 survey showing that more than 8 out of 10 Filipinos support the government’s campaign against illegal drugs,” Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
“This goes 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,” he added.
Abella said the Palace understood the people’s view that EJKs were happening in the implementation of the campaign against illegal drugs.
“These suspicions, however, must always be validated by investigation and evidence, and that is the job of the Philippine National Police Internal Affairs Service (PNP-IAS), as well as the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), if ordered to investigate such incidents,” he added.
Abella also welcomed the majority’s belief that leaders of the Catholic Church should help with the rehabilitation of drug addicts.
“It is unfortunate that the Church has been a staunch critic of the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign,” Abella said.
“Having said this, we urge them to pro-actively help government in the second phase of our anti-illegal drug campaign, which is focused on the rehabilitation and treatment of drug dependents, which include the restoration of mental, spiritual, and psycho-emotional health,” he added.
Abella said the PDEA was expected to shift to arrests of drug lords and narco-politicians, the interdiction of smuggled or locally made drugs, and the prevention and rehabilitation of addiction, in collaboration with local governments, Church, civil society and community groups.
“This new campaign against drugs will hopefully continue to win near-universal support, while addressing the public’s concern over unlawful suspect deaths,” he said.