Rodrigo Duterte

Nine out of 10 Filipinos support Duterte’s drugs war

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 October, 2017, 6:27pm
UPDATED : Monday, 16 October, 2017, 10:34pm

An opinion poll released on Monday found that nearly nine out of 10 Filipinos support Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs and almost three quarters believe extrajudicial killings are taking place in the bloody crackdown.

Duterte’s signature campaign has killed thousands of people and caused international alarm, amid widespread claims by activists that police are executing suspected drug users and dealers.

Police reject that and say every one of the more than 3,900 deaths in their anti-narcotics operations were of armed suspects who violently resisted arrest.

Of the 1,200 Filipinos surveyed by pollster Pulse Asia last month, 88 per cent said they support the anti-illegal drugs campaign, with nine per cent undecided and two per cent against it.

But 73 per cent of respondents believed extrajudicial killings were taking place, up from 67 per cent in the June poll.

A fifth of Filipinos felt there were no such killings, as the authorities maintain, down from 29 per cent in June.

The issue of extrajudicial killings is contentious in the Philippines, where definitions of what it means vary from those typically used by international organisations and human rights groups.

Pulse Asia in its survey defined the term as “killings done by people in authority, such as the police or soldiers, that do no follow the rule of law”.

Political analysts Ramon Casiple said the survey showed support for the crackdown from those who felt crime was being tackled, but reservations among those most affected.

“Communities with reported deaths, generally urban poor communities, are getting increasingly concerned of the killings,” he said.

The survey comes amid unprecedented scrutiny on the war on drugs and several opinion surveys by another pollster that indicated dwindling trust of police accounts of operations, and whether victims were indeed all drug dealers as police maintain.

Duterte last week ordered police to withdraw from the anti-narcotics campaign and leave all operations to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) following scrutiny of police conduct.

He noted fewer killings in operations led by the PDEA, an agency a fraction of the size of the police, and said he hoped critics and “bleeding hearts” would be satisfied by his decision.