Take cue from Filipinos’ sentiments on drug war, critics told

MANILA — Critics of the Duterte administration’s anti-illegal drug campaign should take their cue from Filipinos who believe otherwise, Malacañang said on Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this comment after the Social Weather Stations (SWS) released its second quarter survey which showed that 82% of Filipinos are satisfied with the government’s drug war while 12% were dissatisfied and only 6% were undecided.

He said the survey results are the Palace’s response to critics who believe the drug war is marred by police abuses.

“That is our response to the critics. The survey shows 82% and it has been unchanged…Anong ibig sabihin (What does that mean)? These are the people who know the circumstances on the ground,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

“These are the respondents asked by SWS. Kung talagang may problema tayo sa pag-aabuso, lalabas sa survey ‘yun (If there really are problems of abuse, it will reflect on the survey),” he added.

In a statement issued after the briefing, Panelo said it should also serve as a “refutal” against those countries that express “their pretended concern” over the drug war but fail to consider Filipinos’ preference in addressing the social ills of the country.

“This is once again a loud and clear repudiation of the incorrigible opposition and vocal detractors of the President and his administration who continue to spread lies and taint the reputation of the current government,” Panelo said in a statement.

He pointed out that the President’s approval ratings also remained high despite criticisms against him.

The right path

Panelo also dismissed claims that Duterte being a “good speaker” may have convinced people into believing the drug war.

“Kahit kako pinakamagaling na speaker ‘yan sa buong mundo pareho na ni Mr. Marcos, kung ang reality mo sa ground may abuso, tatanggalin ka gaya ng ginawa sa kanya (Even if he is the best speaker in the world like former President Ferdinand Marcos, if there are abuses, he would be removed just like him),” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

Martial law under the Marcos regime was remembered for its record of human rights abuses particularly targeting political opponents, student activists, journalists, and others who fought against the administration.

“Our people have spoken, and indeed, they have felt the genuine change brought about by the leadership of PRRD, coming from the fact that the most common reason given by the respondents who expressed satisfaction in favor of the campaign against illegal drugs is that ‘drug suspects have lessened,’” Panelo said.

He encouraged critics to “take a cue from our people’s sentiments, start having an appreciation of the efforts of a tireless Chief Executive, and contribute in building a safe, secure and prosperous nation.”The Palace official, meanwhile, said Duterte insisted on maintaining a relentless drug war because he knew he was on the right path.

“Alam niyang tama ang ginagawa niya at nakikita mo yung tao e suportado siya (He knows he’s doing the right thing and you can see how people support him),” Panelo said.

‘Drug war is legit, effective’

Presidential Communication Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar welcomed the survey as “timely and relevant” especially at a time when opposition has “resurrected” the issue of extrajudicial killings.

Andanar said, “no form of investigation from outsiders or critics is warranted to probe the Duterte administration’s anti-drug campaign.”

“The people themselves are saying that it is a legitimate and effective way to attain peace and lift the poor from poverty,” he added.

He asked critics to “learn from the results of the survey, engage with the people, and embrace the sweeping tide of change that has swept the nation.”

“This is a call to all the opposition to finally stop politicizing this campaign, and instead, look at how the anti-drug war has made the people’s lives better,” Andanar said.

The PCOO chief stressed that the Duterte administration remains committed to providing Filipinos with better and safer lives.

“Removing criminality, keeping our youth away from evil, and bringing down poverty will be President Duterte’s lasting legacy,” Andanar said.

 ‘Valid recognition’

Philippine National Police chief, Gen. Oscar Albayalde also welcomed the survey noting that it has been excellent for three consecutive years.

“Consistently, for the third consecutive year, since 2017, there is popular public acknowledgement of the national crusade against illegal drugs,” Albayalde said in a press briefing in Camp Crame.

“The result of the 2nd quarter SWS survey that shows 82% of Filipinos expressing satisfaction in the national campaign against illegal drugs is a valid recognition of the efforts of government to stamp out this social problem,” he added.

He said the PNP will continue to perform its mandate within the bounds of the law and with utmost respect for human rights.

Inspired by survey

For his part, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino said the high satisfaction rating leaves the PDEA “more driven to achieve victory over the drug menace”.

“This is a welcome development amid the naysayers against the government’s campaign against illegal drugs coming from domestic and international critics,” Aquino said in a statement.

“PDEA will carry on with its aggressive supply reduction operations, and holistic approaches to prevent people from wanting and taking illegal drugs, while offering interventions to soften the impacts of drug use and save the lives of drug users and surrendering drug pushers,” he added.

Aquino said the SWS survey also proves that the Filipinos felt the anti-drug campaign launched by Duterte right after his election in 2016.

“Meeting the public’s expectation is the ultimate reward to the hard work, dedication, and sacrifices of PDEA operatives, giving renewed vitality for the agency to continue to perform its mandate with equal fervor and intensity to clear our barangays from the evil clutches of dangerous drugs. With reports from Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA – northboundasia.com