World

Approval for Duterte's drug war dips in Philippines

MANILA: Satisfaction in the Philippines with President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs declined in the first quarter of this year, a survey showed yesterday, with opinions split about police accounts that the drug suspects they killed had resisted arrest.

Out of 1,200 people surveyed by Social Weather Stations (SWS), 78 per cent said they were satisfied with the government's crackdown on illegal drugs, down from 85 per cent in a similar poll last December.

The number of dissatisfied respondents rose from 8 per cent to 12 per cent.

Almost 9,000 people, many small-time users and dealers, have been killed in the Philippines since Mr Duterte took office on June 30 last year. Police say about a third of the victims were shot by officers in self-defence during legitimate operations.

Human rights monitors believe many of the remaining two-thirds were killed by paid assassins operating with police backing or by police disguised as vigilantes - an accusation the police deny.

A Reuters special report published on Tuesday cited two senior law enforcement officials saying the police had received cash for executing drug suspects, planted evidence and had carried out most of the killings they had blamed on vigilantes.

Reuters was unable to independently verify if the police were behind vigilante killings.

The SWS survey included questions on "extrajudicial killings", a term the government and police strongly object to, insisting no such killings had taken place.

The latest poll was conducted from March 25 to 28 and showed 73 per cent of Filipinos were worried that they, or someone they know, would be a victim of extrajudicial killing.

Ninety-two per cent said it was important authorities captured drug suspects alive rather than kill them.

About 20 per cent of respondents felt police were "probably" telling the truth about circumstances behind their killing of drug suspects, while 14 per cent believed they were "definitely" lying. - REUTERS

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