The Philippine government is once again downplaying President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, despite a recent survey showing that most Filipinos are afraid that they too will become victims.
Apparently, it’s not the administration that should be blamed but Duterte’s critics. At least that’s what Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo told reporters today, according to GMA News.
“We understand this concern of our people given the grossly inflated number of drug-related killings falsely peddled and grotesquely sensationalized by the incorrigible critics of the government’s campaign against prohibited drugs,” he said.
Panelo also said again that the administration does not tolerate extra-judicial killings (EJKs) and that they are not “state-sanctioned nor state-sponsored.”
A recent survey by local pollster Social Weather Stations (SWS) found that 78 percent of Filipinos 18-year-old and above are worried that they or someone they know will become an EJK victim. This is 5 percent higher than the results from a similar survey done in June 2017.
50 percent also believe that only poor people are victimized by EJKs while 48 percent think the drug war does not choose a class.
Data released by authorities last week show that 5,176 drug suspects have been killed in anti-drug operations ever since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in July 2016. The Philippines’ Commission on Human Rights, however, believes that the number of fatalities linked to the drug war could be as high as 27,000.
And the government is showing no signs of stopping. Duterte even said late last month that the drug war will be “harsher in the days to come,” ABS-CBN News reported.
“I’m putting [a] notice to everybody, I will not allow my country to be destroyed by drugs. I don’t want my country to end up as a failed state,” he said in a speech.
Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde also criticized SWS’ latest survey and said in a press conference this morning that the way the survey questions were framed was wrong, GMA News reported.
“It shouldn’t be surprising that 78 percent are afraid of getting killed. Who is not afraid to die anyway? I do not want to dispute the statistics derived by the SWS except that there is something amiss with how the questions are framed in relation to the perception of the alleged police involvement in illegal drugs and alleged EJK,” Albayalde said.
SWS’ question was phrased as: “Gaano po kayo nangangamba na kayo o sino mang kilala ninyo ay maging biktima ng ‘extrajudicial killing’ o EJK?”
This translates to: “How worried are you that you or anyone you know will be a victim of ‘extrajudicial killing’ or EJK?”
Albayalde also told SWS to be fair, saying that they should not let political parties use them.
“I hope agencies like this don’t allow themselves to be used in politics. Let us be fair to the Filipino people, they deserve the truth,” he said in English and Filipino.
Recent SWS results have not been good for the police force. Another set of survey results released last week revealed that most Filipinos believe cops are involved in EJKs and the illegal drug trade.