THOUSANDS have been killed in the Duterte administration’s war against illegal drugs and the standard police categorization separates those supposedly killed in legitimate encounters (in Tagalog, “nanlaban”) and those who are victims of extra-judicial killings or killed vigilante-style). The bigger number of deaths are of the “nanlaban” category.
Now comes the result of the latest survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) conducted in June that showed that a majority of Filipinos (54 percent) doubt the standard claim by the Philippine National Police (PNP) that those killed in the war against drugs resisted arrest. On top of that, almost one half of Filipinos (49 percent) said that those killed were not drug pushers.
Note that the survey was conducted two months before elements of thew Caloocan police killed an apparently innocent minor, Kian Loyd delos Santos, in what was claimed as an anti-drug operation. That incident caused public uproar and prompted the Senate to conduct an investigation.
Also killed after that were minors Carl Angelo Arnaiz and Reynaldo de Guzman, with the police claiming that Arnaiz died in a legitimate encounter. The police still consider de Guzman as missing although his family has identified a body found in Nueva Ecija as his. The body bore 26 stab wounds.
The result of the survey, had it been released earlier, would have served as a warning to the police that public opinion in the Duterte administration’s war against drugs is changing. Many have increasingly become like the villagers in the fable who no longer believed in the boy who cried wolf.
As expected, Malacañang refused to accept the survey results, claiming the questions that were asked of the respondents were “leading and pointed.” But refusing to accept reality is a problem in itself. If the Palace won’t accept the survey results, it should at least note this statement from Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, an ally:
“If the PNP has solved any of these killings then they should resort (to) media and announce their achievement. Wala tayong naririnig. Kaya tuloy dito sa Senado nararamdaman ko yung tiwala sa PNP, yung bilib sa PNP eh wala. Bumabagsak o nawawala.”
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on September 29, 2017.
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