Majority of Filipinos see fewer drug users: SWS

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 16 2019 12:05 PM | Updated as of Feb 16 2019 04:49 PM

A police officer lists down names of suspected drug users and pushers at a processing center in Tondo, Manila. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

95 pct say 'important' to capture suspects alive

MANILA (UPDATE) - Majority of Filipinos said there were fewer drug users in their communities in the last quarter of 2018, a recent survey published Saturday showed, as government pursued its campaign against illegal drugs.

About 66 percent of those surveyed said "the number of illegal drug users in their area has decreased," a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed.

Only 14 percent of respondents believed that the number of drug users and peddlers "increased" in the past year, while 7 percent said the number "remained the same," the survey said.

The number of respondents who believed there were less drug addicts in their area compared to last year was highest in Mindanao at 83 percent, followed by Visayas at 71 percent, Metro Manila at 67 percent and the rest of Luzon at 54 percent.

The December 2018 survey also found that nearly all respondents or 95 percent believed that it was "important" for drug suspects to be captured alive.

About 87 percent of Filipinos, meanwhile, said that police consider it important to capture drug suspects alive. The police force has been parrying criticism from rights groups and opposition figures about deaths in the drug war, saying those killed in operations had violently resisted arrest. 

The December 2018 results were "similar" to people's sentiments in a similar survey taken in June 2018, the pollster said.

The SWS launched quarterly surveys on the public's perception on drug addicts in 2017, a year after President Rodrigo Duterte launched his fierce was on drugs in 2016.

At least 5,317 alleged drug suspects were killed from the time the administration's anti-illegal drugs campaign began on July 1, 2016 until December 18, 2018, independent monitoring by the ABS-CBN Investigative & Research Group showed.

Six out of every 10 victims were killed in operations conducted by law enforcement agencies, including police and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency operatives, data showed. 

The survey was conducted from December 16 to 19 through face-to-face interviews with 1,440 adults nationwide and has sampling error margins of ±2.6 percent for national percentages, and ±5 percent each for Balance Luzon, Metro Manila, Visayas, and Mindanao.

'A validation of success': Palace

Malacañang, in a statement, welcomed the development and said it was a “validation of the success” of the government’s war against drugs.

“As we all know, it is a major campaign platform of President Duterte and remains a centerpiece program of his administration, notwithstanding the harshest criticisms, brickbats and pressures the current government is receiving here and abroad," the Palace said. 

Duterte rose to power in 2016 riding on a campaign to rid the country of illegal drugs and corruption.