73% of Filipinos believe number of drug users declined — SWS

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73% of Filipinos believe number of drug users declined — SWS

MANILA, Philippines — About three in four Filipino adults believe the number of illegal drug users in the country has declined since President Duterte took office in 2016, but almost the same figure think there were “many” human rights abuses during the conduct of his campaign, a latest survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) revealed.

The poll, conducted from Dec. 13 to 16 and released late Sunday, found 73 percent of respondents saying the number of illegal drug users has fallen compared to when Duterte assumed the presidency in June 2016, against 14 percent saying it has risen.

Twelve percent of Filipinos say it “stayed the same.”

Of the 73 percent who think the number of drug users in the country has decreased, 28 percent said it has “fallen a lot” and 46 percent claimed it has “fallen somewhat.”

The survey also showed 76 percent who “see” many human rights abuses, such as extrajudicial killings (EJKs) during the anti-illegal drug operations. Of that number, 33 percent said “very many,” 42 percent said “somewhat many” while 24 percent believe “there have been few” abuses.

The nationwide survey used face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults.

Malacañang said it was “unsurprised” with the survey results, attributing this to what it described as the attempt by critics to “demonize” the administration’s anti-narcotics campaign.

“The administration’s war on drugs has been demonized by the relentless disinformation launched by (the) President’s vocal critics and the political opposition at its inception and not without the cooperation of some shameless media outlets. A lie repeated many times over is somehow stamped with a perception of truth,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement. ?He added that “these rambunctious peddlers of disinformation have associated the extrajudicial killings, which are not state initiated, with the government’s drug-related operations. This constant vilification has gained an undeserved currency.”

Panelo insisted that drug-related deaths happen because of “violent resistance” by the suspects in buy-bust and police operations or are the result of internecine killings within the drug organization. 

“Crushing the illegal drugs that have proliferated during the past administrations due to neglect requires aggressive strategies against those who have been used to being coddled by those in power,” the Palace spokesman said. ?

“The President is unconcerned about the popularity of his policies. He remains obedient to the constitutional command to him of serving and protecting the Filipino people regardless of the consequences to his life, honor and liberty,” he added. ?

The SWS said 44 percent of Filipinos think Duterte was “sincere” in appointing Vice President Leni Robredo as co-chairperson of the Interagency Committee on Anti-illegal Drugs or ICAD, while 27 percent said otherwise.

Twenty-nine percent were undecided about the matter.

Nearly half or 49 percent, however, agree the removal of Robredo from the ICAD is an admission by the administration that its war on illegal drugs is failing, while 21 percent disagree, for a net agreement score of +28, classified as “moderately strong.” Thirty percent were undecided, the pollster said.

The survey also found 60 percent agreeing and 15 percent disagreeing that Robredo had the right to see the list of high-value targets when she was co-chairperson of ICAD, resulting in a “very strong” net agreement of +45. Twenty-five percent were undecided about the matter.

For 56 percent of respondents, there’s nothing wrong with the United Nations Human Rights Council’s move to investigate the alleged EJKs in the government’s drug war, while 20 percent disagree with the statement, for a net agreement score of “very good” +36. Twenty-four percent were undecided about the matter, the SWS said.

Duterte sacked Robredo, one of the critics of his bloody drug war, less than three weeks after appointing her as co-chair of ICAD in November last year.

Robredo recently released her report on her 18-day stay at ICAD, which contained her findings and recommendations on how to improve the ongoing war on drugs.

In her 40-page report, the Vice President called Duterte’s drug war a “massive failure” and criticized the confusing government figures on the number of illegal drugs users and its failure to reduce the supply of drugs in the country in the past three years.

Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, spokesman for the Philippine National Police (PNP), yesterday insisted that police officers conduct anti-narcotics operations with respect for human rights, a rule that he said is contained in the operational procedures being observed by policemen on the ground.

“The Police Operational Procedures sets the rules of engagement that police should observe when conducting drug operations with emphasis on respect for human rights,” he said in a statement. – With Alexis Romero, Emmanuel Tupas