Rising public doubt
The Palace guys would rather ignore it, but then, the latest Social Weather Station (SWS) survey that showed that half of the Filipinos question the police’s claim that they were forced to kill criminal suspects because they fought back is a challenge not only to the Duterte administration’s war on drugs but also to its credibility and integrity to the Filipino public.
The survey showed that the bulk of the respondents who questioned the police’s claim came from Luzon and most of them were Class E or the poor who had been the target of most summary executions carried out by masked, nameless vigilantes who were believed to be, rightly or wrongly, police officers.
Although President Duterte still enjoys major support from Mindanao, 49 percent in both the Visayas and Mindanao also didn’t believe the PNP’s assertion that the suspects fought back.
What’s disturbing is that more than half of the respondents didn’t believe that the suspects were actually drug pushers. When informed about the results, the Palace retorted that the survey questions were pointed and leading and they wished that the survey had done a better job of actually reflecting public sentiment on the war on drugs.
What the Palace guys and gals failed to recognize was that the survey was done last June, more than a month before several Caloocan City policemen were charged with the murder of Kian delos Santos, who was last seen alive being dragged by what many believed were plainclothes policemen.
That forensic evidence later showed that Kian didn’t resist arrest but was in fact in a kneeling position before being shot dead, which resulted in swift widespread public condemnation that not even the sacking of said policemen mollified.
So even with President Rodrigo Duterte being forced to admit that there were cops who took his anti-drug war too far and having to meet the parents of Kian to assure them that justice will be served, why did the Palace choose to ignore the survey results and pretend that SWS did wrong in conducting said survey?
Then again, it’s to be expected that the Palace would choose to cast blame instead of taking the more pragmatic approach of downplaying it and neither denying nor challenging the survey results.
We thought that, with the murder of a kidnapped South Korean businessman right in front of Camp Crame headquarters last year, the PNP had learned its lesson and would toe the line of due process in going after drug suspects.
Instead, it had gotten worse, and now, minor offenders are not only being implicated but executed in a remote grassy area far from the prying, all-seeing eyes of security cameras.
The Duterte administration may choose to ignore the SWS survey results and continue on their relentless war on drugs at their own risk. Or they can do it better and not have to see more innocent blood spilled on the streets.
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