Duterte drug war to continue despite drop in trust rating

Neither the media criticism nor the latest poll survey rating drop can stop the Philippine's campaign against illegal drugs.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Reuters

No one can stop the Philippine campaign against illegal drugs, even amidst the drop of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's satisfaction and trust rating. The rating is administered by the Social Weather Stations, the Philippine's leading independent poll body.

Duterte's chief presidential adviser Salvador Panelo said that the Philippine President is not much affected by the recent rating that declined from "very good" to good. He also quoted the president that he is not after popularity.

The Duterte camp believes that the fall of his popularity and trust rating was attributed to his war on drugs campaign and reports on extrajudicial killings (EJK) that linked to the death of teenager Kian Delos Santos, who reportedly became a victim of EJK that sparked nationwide protest from human rights and religious sectors.

But Duterte personally warned that despite the drop in his trust and popularity ratings, he will not withdraw from the illegal drugs campaign.

"If they think I will withdraw from the war against illegal drugs, then they are guessing wrong," Duterte said after meeting with his key ministers.

The recent poll results showed that 9 out of 10 Filipinos preferred drugs suspects to be arrested alive and 70% of the respondents said they also worry because they could also be a victim of EJK.

Government statistics show that 3,811 drug suspects were killed in the anti-drug campaign since July 1, 2016, but the Duterte camp claimed the death of drug suspects is a result of gunfights where police authorities have to defend themselves.

Panelo further added that a drug pusher would normally be refused to be arrested, which is often to the root cause of gunfight.

Surprisingly, while a majority of the poll respondents claimed that they prefer drug suspects to be arrested alive, Duterte won as the Philippine president in 2016 with a strong message that if he wins the presidency it will be bloody because he would use his power to run after the life of illegal drug suspects.

In a related development, while the US government has been critical of Duterte's drive against illegal drugs, the US helped the Philippine government construct drug rehabilitation centers. Aside from the US, China is also constructing rehabilitation centers for illegal drugs users who wish to be rehabilitated to their normal life.