What analysts, lawmakers say about new Pulse Asia survey on war on drugs

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 17 2017 12:23 AM | Updated as of Oct 17 2017 01:03 AM

MANILA - Analysts and lawmakers believe that the new Pulse Asia poll shows that while most Filipinos support the administration's campaign against illegal drugs, there may be a need to re-calibrate the campaign as majority of people are wary of extra-judicial killings.

One congressman, meanwhile, told Philippine National Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa to go on early retirement considering these numbers.

Pulse Asia President Ronald Holmes said it may be deduced 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 said. "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 told ABS-CBN News.

Holmes, an assistant professor at the Political Science of De La Salle University, said the government should heed people's opinion.

"The government should recognize that while there is significant majority support in the campaign against drugs, people acknowledge there are fatalities, people are expressing apprehension that the members of the family people they know might be victimized," he said.

UP Political Science Associate Professor Ranjit Rye, meanwhile, said a close examination of the data reveals "a need for the government to assess and re-calibrate its so-called war on drugs."

"The data shows that Filipinos are worried of the possibility of abuse by the police. From the data, one can argue that there is a need for govt to urgently balance enforcement and rights protection as far as its anti drug campaign. The data also shows that government has to utilize other levers on its campaign such as drug rehabilitation and education," he said.

"Government must know also include other actors in civil society to assist it in its war on drugs. The Pulse Asia survey provides a wealth of data for government to use in improving its anti-drug program," he said. 

Opposition lawmaker Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice said all Filipinos are likely to support any government program against illegal drugs, but they do not agree that the current set-up is the correct solution.

"Di sila naniniwala na ito 'yung tamang solusyon kasi naniniwala sila may extra-judicial killing, naniniwala sila na kailangan makialam ang simbahan at kailangan mag-obserba ang simbahan," he said.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said the survey showed that the Filipino people want the drug problem solved, but do not want the street killings.

"Ito ang pulso ng mamamayan: while they are supporting the war on drugs, di nila gusto itong nangyayaring patayan ngayon. Kaya nakita mo yung ayaw sa EJK and summary executions, from 67 percent naging 73 percent," he said.

Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin believes the survey results indicates a "complete rejection of the official narrative of 'nanlaban'."

"It is high time that the PNP be made accountable for the 'DUIs' which are in fact EJKs, through an independent, credible investigative commission composed of former jurists and persons of known probity," he said.

Villarin added that Dela Rosa should tender his early retirement now instead of waiting for January 2018, when he is expected to turn over the police leadership after reaching the mandatory age of retirement of 56.

"He has brought down the PNP to such shame and low esteem bringing down the gutter its credibility. This is also consistent with the move of President Duterte to task the PDEA to lead the war against drugs," said the lawmaker.

Administration allies at the House of Representatives said changes have to be made in the campaign against illegal drugs.

Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque said caution should be exerted by the government as people are "increasingly becoming fearful of becoming collateral damage" in the war on drugs as reflected by the 76 percent who expressed worry after the death of teenager Kian delos Santos.

PBA Party List Rep. Jericho Nograles said, "However, we need to weed out the crooked officers who are involved in the drug menace, especially those who murder to cover up their involvement in their own acts or omissions. Also, we need to strengthen the justice system and add more courts to prosecute the more than 70% detainees who are involved in drugs. When we convict faster, we deliver justice faster as well."

Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat said people have yet to be convinced of the way the campaign against illegal drugs has been managed.

"If surveys are to be believed, then there's one glaring inconvenient truth, Filipinos are not duped by the denials of govt officials about EJKs and are in fact apprehensive about it," he said.