73% of Pinoys fear falling to EJKs as satisfaction with war on drugs slides

April 19, 2017 - 9:20 AM
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Families of victims of drug killings weep in church as holy mass is offered by groups protesting extrajudicial executions. REUTERS FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 2 – 12:54 p.m.) Although their numbers have dipped, almost three-fourths of Filipinos remain afraid they or persons they know could become victims of extrajudicial killings amid a slide in satisfaction with the government’s war on drugs, the results of a new survey showed.

The results of the First Quarter 2017 Social Weather Survey of polling firm Social Weather Stations showed 73 percent of respondents worried about becoming victims of EJKs, 92 percent saying it is important that drug suspects be captured alive, and satisfaction with the illegal drugs campaign falling to net +66.

The survey also showed a growing disbelief in official claims that drug suspects slain in police operations had resisted arrest.

The non-commissioned survey was conducted from March 25 to 28 through face-to-face interviews with 1,200 adults nationwide, with sampling error margins of ±3% for national percentages, and ±6% each for Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Breaking down the numbers, SWS said 37 percent of respondents said they were very worried (talagag nangangamba), 36 percent were somewhat worried (medyo nangangamba), 14 percent were not too worried (medyo hindi nangangamba) and 13 percent were not worried at all (talagang hindi nangangamba) when asked: “Gaano po kayo nangangamba na kayo o sino mang kilala ninyo ay maging biktima ng ‘Extrajudicial Killing o EJK’ (How worried are you that you or anyone you know will be a victim of ‘ Extrajudicial Killing or EJK’)?”

This actually represented a drop from December’s survey, which had 45 percent of respondents saying they were very worried, 33 percent replying they were somewhat worried, 10 percent not too worried, and 12 percent not worried at all.

And despite their fears, 70 percent of the respondents believe the administration is serious (34 percent very serious, 36 percent somewhat serious) in wanting to solve the problem of EJKs, registering just a slight dip from December’s results (38 percent very serious, 32 percent somewhat serious).

But net satisfaction with the administration’s war on drugs dropped from December’s “excellent” grade to “very good.” In numbers, this was an 11-point slide from +77 (85 percent satisfied, 8 percent dissatisfied) in the previous survey to +66 (78 percent satisfied, 12 percent dissatisfied) in March.

On police claims slain suspects were “nanlaban” or fought back, SWS said “opinion continues to be split.”

The new survey showed 31 percent believe police are not telling the truth compared to 24 percent who believe them, with 44 percent unsure. In December, the gap was narrower with 29 percent saying police were not telling the truth, 28 percent saying they were, and 42 percent not sure.

And as the death toll from the war on drugs continues to mount, 92 percent of Filipinos still overwhelmingly believe it is important to capture suspects alive, although this registered a slight dip from the 94 percent of the December and September surveys.

Reacting to the survey, Malacanang chose to highlight the 78 percent satisfaction in the war on drugs “notwithstanding the negative criticisms we received here and abroad,” with presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella claiming “many Filipinos are less worried about their personal safety; as they feel safe and secure in the streets and at home.

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Saying the survey indicated “Filipinos understand and support the campaign against hard drug traffickers and violators,” Abella said “the drive will be relentless until the drug apparatus is rendered inutile; after all what is at stake is the national patrimony, the following generations of Filipinos, who will not only continue our dreams, be our God given social safety net, but also preserve our cultures, our gift to the world.”

But administration critic Senator Risa Hontiveros said the survey showed that “the government’s war on drugs may have had massive popular support at the start, but inevitably it has turned into a national nightmare.”

“As long as the government’s anti-drug campaign continues to create a climate of fear, impunity and killing, this war is a losing battle with less and less supporters,” she said.

At the same time, Hontiveros called the SWS poll a “slap in the face for EJK deniers,” noting that “for a second consecutive time, the majority or 73 percent of Filipinos are worried that they or someone they know would become victims of extrajudicial killings.”

“The fear is real. EJKs are a reality,” she said. “The government’s attempt to massage its original data and/or reintroduce new and questionable data on the killings attributed to the drug war cannot hide this fact.”

She urged people to “wake up from this national nightmare and set things right by holding all those responsible for these killings accountable alongside the implementation of a public health agenda on the anti-drugs campaign.” (with a report from Maricel Halili, News5)