Majority of Filipinos are supportive of President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs but are also scared that they, too, will fall victim to extrajudicial killings, a survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed.
The poll taken from December 3 to 6 also revealed that most Filipinos believe that drug suspects should be caught alive.
The pollster conducted face-to-face interviews with 1,500 adults nationwide.
Survey results showed that 78 percent of those polled were worried that they or someone they know will also be killed in the drug campaign that has so far claimed at least 6,000 lives.
Of those polled, 45 percent said they were “very worried” that they will be the next victim, 33 percent were “somewhat worried,” 10 percent were “not too worried” while 12 percent “were not worried at all.”
The SWS found that 71 percent of the respondents said it is “very important” that drug suspects be caught alive while 23 percent said it is “somewhat important.”
As of December 13, the Philippine National Police had pegged the number of drug-related deaths at 5,927.
The same survey also showed that 39 percent of the respondents believe that the issue on extrajudicial killings is a “serious” problem. Only three percent think the problem is “not serious at all” while 22 percent were undecided.
A large majority of the respondents, 88 percent, agreed that the Duterte administration has reduced the illegal drug problem in their area.
Meanwhile, the SWS said Filipinos still have trust issues with the Philippine National Police (PNP) when it comes to the implementation of the anti-illegal drugs campaign.
Of the respondents, 28 percent believe that police officers were telling the truth when they said drug suspects were killed because they resisted arrest while 29 percent did not believe the police. Forty-two percent were unsure.
The survey had an error margin of ±3 points.
Some senators see the survey results as proof that Filipinos no longer feel safe on the streets.
“Someone is killed every 40 minutes daily and so fear for one’s safety is bound to surface. The only way to address this is to stop the daily killings,” Sen. Francis Pangilinan said on Monday.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th agreed, saying the survey showed that majority of Filipinos are now living in fear. This, he added, debunks the Duterte administration’s claim that people feel safer now.
For Sen. Grace Poe, the fear expressed by most Filipinos “is understandable with the growing number of innocents getting killed.”
Such fear, she said, is further fueled by the apparent inaction against police officers involved in the questionable killing of unarmed victims.
“Sadly one can’t help but think that such fear is exactly what the President wants to achieve as part of his solution to the problem,” Poe added.
Rep. Sherwin Tugna of Citizens Battle Against Corruption party-list said the war on illegal drugs had eroded the people’s trust in the police.
“The campaign to discourage people from being involved in drugs is successful. The citizenry, however, believes that men in uniform are abusing the drug war and vigilante groups are riding on the administration’s anti-drug war, resulting in impunity in extrajudicial killings,” Tugna said in a text message. “The people’s faith in law enforcement should be restored.”
Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo called on Filipinos to express their outrage amid the rampant killings.
“We are bothered that a lot of suspects were killed in police operations. This is bothersome because our law enforcement agents should lead the way in following the rule of law. If it is the police who are killing people, then the public won’t come to them for help anymore,” Robredo said in a chance interview in Naga City, Camarines Sur.
“We need to be vocal, not afraid. Many people have warned us against speaking out about this, but we can’t keep silent just because we are afraid. We need to give a voice to those who are fearful. We can’t just stay on the side and watch [them kill],” she added.
Sen. Gregorio Honasan 2nd, however, defended the bloody war on drugs.
“Unless we intervene on the streets, schools and our homes, nothing will really happen,” Honasan said in an interview with reporters.
“We have to go through this painful dark stage in our history until these reforms are in place and develop traction,” he added.
Malacanang, however, gave assurances that anti-drug operations are “not aimed at poor, innocent, hapless individuals.”
“Extrajudicial killings are not state-sponsored and we denounce riding-in-tandem murders perpetrated by common criminals wrongly attributed in news reports as part of police operations,” Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said.
“Murder is murder. What our authorities are conducting are legitimate police operations that require observance of operational protocols. Police authorities who violate procedures are made to answer before the law.
Suspected drug personalities who resist and fight back with arms have to be dealt with appropriately. The proper enforcement of our laws requires the use of reasonable force merited by the attendant circumstances,” he added.
WITH LLANESCA T. PANTI