Filipinos give thumbs up to Duterte’s ‘excellent’ drugs war: poll

MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine citizens are overwhelmingly satisfied with President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, a survey showed, giving a boost to a government outraged by an international push to investigate allegations of systematic murders by police.

FILE PHOTO: President Rodrigo Duterte speaks after his arrival, from a visit in Israel and Jordan at Davao International airport in Davao City in southern Philippines, September 8, 2018. REUTERS/Lean Daval Jr./File Photo

The quarterly poll of 1,200 Filipinos by Social Weather Stations returned a rating of “excellent” for Duterte’s three-year campaign, with 82% satisfied due to a perception of less drugs and crime in the country.

That compared to 12% dissatisfied, because they believed the drug trade was still flourishing and there were too many killings and police abuses. The survey conducted by the independent pollster in late June had 6% undecided.

It was released two days after the leak of a presidential memo ordering departments and state-run firms to decline loans or aid from the 18 countries of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) – among them Spain, Britain and Australia – that backed a resolution to investigate Duterte’s crackdown.

Police say they have killed more than 6,700 suspected drug dealers who all resisted arrest, and deny involvement in the mysterious murders of thousands more drug users.

Police reject allegations by human rights groups that they have executed targets, falsified reports and tampered with evidence and crime scenes.

Presidential spokesman, Salvador Panelo, said the poll showed that the international community had a warped understanding of what was happening.

“If it’s true that there are human rights violations then the people of this country will rise against this administration,” Panelo said on Monday.

“It’s not true that policemen just kill at will, they cannot do that,” he added.

The 47-member Council approved a resolution in July to compile a comprehensive report on the killings, which Manila’s foreign secretary said will not be permitted in the Philippines.

Panelo said domestic investigations had been undertaken already, and the U.N. resolution was “not only unfair, it’s an insult.”

The International Criminal Court has since last year been conducting a preliminary examination to determine if there are grounds to investigate Duterte. He has responded by cancelling the Philippines membership of the court.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said domestic surveys showing support for Duterte and his campaign were exactly why an international probe was needed.

“It’s ridiculous to say there is any sort of serious national investigation into these crimes. It’s laughable,” he told news channel ANC.

“We have total impunity that continues to surround those who are involved in this,” he added.

Reporting by Martin Petty; editing by Darren Schuettler

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