SWS: 54% of Filipinos reject PNP tales of ‘nanlaban’
“Hindi nanlaban.” (Did not resist arresting police officers.)
More than half of Filipinos (54 percent) believed that those killed in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs did not resist the police, while 49 percent said the victims were not drug pushers.
The results of a survey that Social Weather Stations (SWS) conducted in June showed widespread doubt about the claim of the Philippine National Police that the suspects were drug dealers who had resisted arrest.
Two Catholic priests said the survey results ran counter to the official stand of the PNP, but Malacañang said SWS asked “leading” and pointed questions that may have “unduly influenced” the answers of the respondents.
Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said the results were not surprising given the “critical mass of compelling evidence” gathered by his group and investigative journalists, which had clearly demonstrated there was “an unlawful killing campaign under the cynical veneer of ‘antidrug operations.’”
In its noncommissioned survey, SWS asked 1,200 adults nationwide whether they agree or disagree with statements about the campaign against illegal drugs. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
“In many cases, evidence is planted and victims are accused of firing a gun. But witnesses claim otherwise,” said Fr. Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of the National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace.
SWS ran the survey two months before 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos was killed by the police who claimed he was a drug runner.
His killing, among the 90 people killed in less than a week of intensified police raids, sparked widespread condemnation, as CCTV footage showed the police had dragged and shot the boy, contrary to the police report that he shot at them first.
People opening eyes
Fr. Robert Reyes said results of the survey showed that people were beginning to reject what was happening.
“Before people were mesmerized by the mystic, by the promises of President Duterte. But slowly they are opening their eyes that no, it’s not happening,” Reyes said.
“They say change is coming. Has change happened for the better or for worse? I think it’s for the worse,” he added.
Disbelief over the police line that suspects had fought back and thus had to be shot dead was more pronounced in Metro Manila at 63 percent and among Class E at 58 percent.
Most of the reported killings in the war on drugs have occurred in Metro Manila. Critics have pointed out that most of the victims were poor.
PNP data showed that from July last year to Sept. 16 this year, 3,850 drug personalities were killed in police operations.
Fifty percent of the respondents believed that many lied and pointed to their enemies as drug users or pushers as excuse for these people to be killed by the police.
Agreement with this statement was 63 percent in Metro Manila.
In a statement, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said he expected “pollsters to exercise prudence and objectivity to arrive at a closer approximation of public sentiment.”
The PNP said 82 policemen would not have been killed and more than 200 others critically wounded had the suspects not resisted arrest and engaged them in shootouts.
The PNP spokesperson, Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlos, assured the public that the PNP Internal Affairs Service (IAS) had investigated incidents that involved deaths in police operations and that the IAS had found irregularities in a handful of cases.
“We do not tolerate the wrongdoing of our policemen,” Carlos said.
Faith in PNP wavering
But Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said even in the Senate there was sentiment that faith in the PNP was either wavering or disappearing.
“I have not heard the PNP saying it has solved any of these killings when they resort to the media and announce their achievements,” Pimentel said.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former PNP chief, said the government should take seriously the survey results.
His advice to the PNP was for it to “go back to the drawing board until it could perfect its operations” in the antidrug campaign. —Reports from Tina G. Santos, Jeannette I. Andrade, Philip C. Tubeza, Christine O. Avendaño, Inquirer Research and the wires
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