4 in 5 Filipinos fear extrajudicial killings but still support Duterte's anti-crime war: Poll

Operatives from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) standing guard during destruction of seized materials and paraphernalia used for manufacturing shabu, a cheap form of methamphetamine, at a warehouse in Valenzuela City, the Philippines, o
Operatives from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) standing guard during destruction of seized materials and paraphernalia used for manufacturing shabu, a cheap form of methamphetamine, at a warehouse in Valenzuela City, the Philippines, on Dec 8, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

MANILA - Four in five Filipinos fear that they, or someone they know, may die at the hands of police or vigilantes hunting for drug suspects. Yet, there is still widespread support for President Rodrigo Duterte's violent anti-crime drive.

Results of a survey by polling firm Social Weather Stations, released on Monday (Dec 19), showed 78 per cent are worried that a kin, a friend, an acquaintance or even they themselves may fall victim to what has become known in the Philippines as an "extrajudicial killing". Many say it is "very important" that suspects are taken alive, poll results showed.

Yet, public satisfaction with Mr Duterte's war on drugs remained "excellent", with 85 per cent supporting it despite the apprehension because they believed it has led to fewer crimes.

The poll, with 1,500 respondents, was conducted from Dec 3 to Dec 6. It was published by the newspaper BusinessWorld, which commissioned it.

Latest available data showed that police had killed over 2,000 suspects since Mr Duterte, who won the election on a promise to eradicate crime and corruption, took office on June 30. Another 3,000 were believed to have been killed by vigilantes or in purges within criminal gangs.

The 72-year-old mercurial president repeated last week a boast he first made in 2015 and then again during the campaign early this year that he personally killed three men in 1989.

"I said I killed about three of them. I don't really know how many bullets from my gun went inside their bodies, but it happened," he told reporters.

But like on previous occasions, he insisted it was not a random killing or a summary execution.

He said he killed the three men during a shoot-out that ended a three-day prison riot in April 1989 in his southern home city of Davao.

During that incident, inmates took Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill as hostage, raped, and then killed her.

Mr Duterte doubled down on earlier comments that as mayor, he patrolled Davao's streets on a motorcycle and killed criminal suspects to set an example to his police officers.

His aides had tried to soften these remarks, saying Mr Duterte tended to exaggerate.