Filipinos 'resigned' to EJKs as part of drug war: Lacson

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 17 2017 10:29 AM | Updated as of Oct 17 2017 11:03 AM

MANILA - Filipinos seem to have "accepted" that extrajudicial killings are part of the Duterte administration's war on drugs as indicated by a Pulse Asia survey, Senator Panfilo Lacson said Tuesday.

Support for President Duterte's anti-narcotics drive is the majority sentiment (88 percent) among Filipinos, most of whom believe that extrajudicial killings occur under the campaign (73 percent), according to the independent survey released Monday.

Pulse Asia in its survey defined the term as "killings done by people in authority, such as the police or soldiers, that do no follow the rule of law."

"If we look at the whole picture, when 88 out of 100 Filipinos support the war on drugs of the government and 73 percent say that they believe that EJK is happening, what does that tell you? It tells you that somehow, Filipinos are resigned and this is disturbing," Lacson told ANC's Headstart.

"It’s disturbing to some and maybe dangerous to many because if Filipinos feel resigned na puwede na rin ang EJK just to solve the drug problem, then we must rethink our position," he said.

Lacson, a former police chief, said many Filipinos who have gotten used to the same type of leadership from former presidents see in Duterte the possibility of change "because of the political will, the determination in eliminating the drug problem."

The 88 percent of the Filipinos saying they support the government's anti-drug campaign are also in a manner saying that they support the methods "because they support the drug war being implemented by the government," he said.

"Juxtapose that with the 73 percent who say that they believe rightly or wrongly that EJKs exist…parang may acceptance," he said.

However, Pulse Asia President Ronald Holmes said it may be deduced from the survey that people do not agree with the manner by which drug suspects end up injured or dead.

"Puwede nating sabihing puwede kang sumuporta sa partikular na kampanya pero di mo sasang-ayunan ang partikular na paraan," he told ABS-CBN News.

"Puwede ka sumuporta sa kampanya laban sa krimen pero tutol ka sa pagpataw ng parusang kamatayan. (You) support (the campaign) against the criminality, it should be more resolute but it should be within the confines of the rule of law," he said.

Duterte last week ordered police to withdraw from the anti-narcotics campaign and leave all operations to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) following scrutiny of police conduct.

He noted fewer killings in operations by PDEA, an agency a fraction of the size of the police, and said he hoped critics and "bleeding hearts" would be satisfied by his decision.

However, Lacson said the problem with PDEA being at the helm of the drug war is that it is "undermanned."

The lawmaker, who sponsored the agency's budget, sought augmentation to the P1.2-billion allocation for it to be able to acquire necessary equipment, improve its facilities, and recruit about 1,200 more personnel.

With this shift, Lacson said the PNP will now be playing a "secondary role" in the drug war, but they can still respond to drug crimes being committed in their presence.

- with Reuters and RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News