SOME 60 percent of Filipinos polled believed that only the poor are killed in the government’s war on drugs, a local report revealed.
According to a survey conducted by the nation’s Social Weather Station (SWS) from June 23 to 26, the majority of respondents agreed with the statement that “Rich drug pushers are not killed; only the poor ones are killed”.
Twenty-three percent of those surveyed did disagree with the statement, of which 12 somewhat disagreed and 11 percent strongly disagreed. Another 17 percent of the respondents were undecided, the Inquirer reported.
The report said most who shared the sentiment came from Metro Manila with 75 percent of the majority who believed only the poor were affected agreeing. In Mindanao, 59 percent agreed with the notion, 58 percent in Luzon and 53 percent in the Visayas believed the same.
Prior to the results of the poll, the SWS revealed that most Filipinos did not believe the claims of national police that those who died had fought against the authorities.
The survey was carried out on 1,200 respondents nationwide.
The SWS also found that three-quarters of those polled think President Rodrigo Duterte should make public his list of drug personalities and drag them to court.
“Items on the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs are non-commissioned. They were included on SWS’s own initiative and released as a public service,” the SWS said.
In response to the polls, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald De La Rosa said the survey was merely the perception of the people, adding the police has neutralized major drug personalities such as Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog and Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. in the war against drugs.
“Were those men poor? Certainly not,” De La Rosa said, adding that people should be fair in commenting on police’s anti-drug operations.
“Those selling drugs were mostly poor people, you have to understand the structure of the drug pyramid.” he said.
More than 3,800 people have been killed during Duterte’s ruthless campaign, in what police say are anti-drugs operations during which suspects had violently resisted arrest.
The police chief insisted that the killings would end if drug suspects did not resist authorities during raids.
On Tuesday, De La Rosa said he would not prevent officers involved in the country’s bloody war on drugs from seeking church protection and testifying to their alleged abuses, providing they told the truth.
The police chief was reacting to a statement from a senior Catholic prelate expressing “willingness to grant accommodation, shelter, and protection” to police involved in unlawful killings during the 15-month-old crackdown.
Human rights groups believe that figure, provided by the PNP, misrepresents the scale of the bloodshed, pointing to large numbers of killings by shadowy gunmen. The PNP denies allegations that assassins are operating in league with some of its officers to kill drug users.
“The pill may be bitter but we can swallow the bitter pill if that pill is true,” Dela Rosa told reporters, adding that he had no information that any PNP members had approached the church and wanted to speak out.
“Even if we are at the receiving end, we can take it as long as it is the truth, not just fabricated. The truth is important.”
The PNP and Duterte have been on the defensive in recent weeks as scrutiny intensifies over the conduct of mostly plain-clothes officers during what the PNP calls “buy bust” sting operations.
Duterte has several times stated that he has never told the police to kill, unless in self-defence. His critics, however, accuse him of inciting murder in his frequent, truculent speeches.
The killings by police of two teenagers in August is the subject of an ongoing Senate inquiry.
Additional reporting by Reuters