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Panelo: War on drugs to go on despite dip in Duterte’s ratings

Salvador Panelo

Despite the double-digit declines in his public satisfaction and trust ratings, President Duterte remains “unperturbed” and will pursue his campaign against illegal drugs, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said on Monday.

Panelo noted that the late Singaporean leader Lee Kwan Yew once said that a leader “obsessed” with opinion and popularity polls was “a weak (leader) because he sways to the blowing of the wind.”

Panelo nevertheless acknowledged that the sharp drop in the President’s ratings was due to public outrage over the police killing of 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos and two other minors.

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Communications Secretary Martin Andanar expected the decline in the President’s ratings, saying the “honeymoon period of the President is usually for a year.”

Critics of the President said the fall in ratings showed public disillusionment with his rule.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the drop in the President’s ratings was just a “hiccup” in Mr. Duterte’s six-year presidency.

Social Weather Stations (SWS) found that trust and satisfaction in Mr. Duterte fell to the lowest level of his presidency last month, although sentiment about his leadership remained positive overall.

Net satisfaction, a rating of the President’s performance, was down 18 points to 48, still classified as “good” in the SWS survey of 1,200 Filipinos conducted in the last week of September.

Mr. Duterte’s net trust rating, which gauges public sentiment about his personality, was also still “very good” at 60 points, down from “excellent” 75 he achieved in June.

Outrage

In a statement, Panelo said the latest SWS survey reflected the sentiment of various sectors “outraged by what they perceived to be an unjustified killing [of three teenagers] by police officers.”

Delos Santos was killed on Aug. 16 in Caloocan City. Police claimed Delos Santos was a drug runner and they killed him after he fired at them with a .45 caliber pistol during a drug raid.

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But according to witnesses, plainclothes officers took Delos Santos into custody, dragged him to a dark alley and shot him three times, leaving his body next to a pigsty.

Two days later, 19-year-old Carl Angelo Arnaiz was killed also in Caloocan. The body of Arnaiz’s companion, 14-year-old Reynaldo de Guzman, was fished out of a creek in Gapan City, Nueva Ecija province, on Sept. 5.

Panelo noted that Mr. Duterte had ordered the relief of the policemen involved in the killings.

Activists accuse Mr. Duterte of inciting police to kill drug dealers and users, which he denies.

‘Penchant for lying’

Fr. Jerome Secillano said the drop in the President’s ratings was to be expected, noting that Mr. Duterte’s “penchant for lying” has been exposed.

Secillano, executive secretary of the permanent committee on public affairs of the Catholic bishops’ conference, was referring to the President’s admission that he lied about the details of the supposed bank accounts of his critic, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.

Trillanes has accused Mr. Duterte and his family of amassing undeclared wealth as shown by more than P2 billion in bank transactions from 2006 to 2015.

“It (the decline) will continue to go down unless he shapes up, especially on issues of corruption, extrajudicial killings, police impunity and others,” Secillano said.

Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes said he had expected the drop in the President’s ratings “to be lower in view of the deep dissatisfaction of the people with his prodeath, dictatorial administration.”

Writing on the wall

Sen. Risa Hontiveros said the ratings dip showed Mr. Duterte’s authoritarian style of governance was losing its appeal and support.

“The writing on the wall is simple and clear: President Duterte cannot govern based on fear, lies and killings,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

Mr. Duterte’s allies in the House of Representatives see no reason to worry about the slide in his ratings, with Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles attributing it to the “hot topics” that came out in the past weeks. —REPORTS FROM PHILIP C. TUBEZA, JULIE M. AURELIO, CHRISTINE O. AVENDAÑO, VINCE F. NONATO AND THE WIRES

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TAGS: drug killings, Duterte's net approval rating, extrajudicial killings, Lee Kwan Yew, Rodrigo Duterte, Salvador Panelo, SWS survey, war on drugs
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