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Public support for Duterte’s war on drugs beginning to slip

While support for the crackdown is still high, more Filipinos are expressing concern

Satisfaction with President Duterte’s war on drugs has declined among Filipinos this year, a survey has revealed today (Wednesday, April 19).

Of 1,200 people surveyed by Social Weather Stations (SWS), 78 per cent said they were ‘satisfied’ by the government crackdown, down from 85 per cent in a similar poll last December.

The number of ‘dissatisfied’ respondents rose from eight per cent to 12.

A reported 9,000 people, many believed to be small-time users and dealers, have been killed since Duterte took office.

Police say about a third of these victims were shot dead by officers in self-defence during legitimate operations.

Human rights groups and other critics of the crackdown say that many of the others were killed by assassins paid by the police or even by officers disguised as vigilantes. Police deny these allegations and say all such deaths are under investigation.

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A report published by Reuters yesterday cited two senior law enforcement officials saying the police had received cash for executing drug suspects, planted evidence and had carried out most of the killings blamed on vigilantes.

The SWS survey, conducted from March 25-28, included questions on “extrajudicial killings”, a term the government and police object to, denying that any such killings have taken place.

The poll also showed that 73 per cent of Filipinos were worried that they, or someone they knew, would be a victim of extrajudicial killing, and 92 per cent said police should capture suspects alive rather than killing them.

While 18 per cent of respondents felt police were “probably” telling the truth about the circumstances behind their killing of suspects, 14 per cent believed they were “definitely” lying. Forty-four per cent were undecided. Those who said they “definitely” believed police were truthful fell from nine per cent in December to six.

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“This is a black eye for the Philippine National Police,” said Ramon Casiple, head of the Institute for Electoral and Police Reforms. “I don’t think this will impact on the president, it’s more on the police whose members were seen and perceived to be more involved in crimes and in the killings. They should do more and convince the public about reforms not by words but by actions.”

Asked by reporters about the fall in satisfaction rating for the anti-drugs campaign, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said: “There seems to be consistency in the way the public appreciates the efforts.”

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