By Genalyn Kabiling
Malacañang is no longer surprised with the survey results showing many Filipinos believed rights abuses were committed in the drug war, because the campaign has supposedly been “demonized” by critics.
Even as he assured the public that the government protects human rights, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the constant vilification of the administration’s anti-drug campaign has gained “an undeserved currency.”
“The Palace is unsurprised with the survey finding,” he said in a statement Monday.
“The administration’s war on drugs has been demonized by the relentless disinformation launched by the President’s vocal critics and the political opposition at its inception, and not without the cooperation of some shameless media outlets. A lie repeated many times over is somehow stamped with a perception of truth.”
He said the “rambunctious peddlers of disinformation” have associated the extra-judicial killings with the government’s anti-drug campaign.
But he insisted that while the government clamps down on the illegal drug trade, it is “equally decisive in protecting the human rights of our citizens.” The government is also determined to punish to the fullest state agents who abuse their authority, Panelo said.
“As the President says, as against them, there will be hell to pay. We encourage those who are victims of – or who are witnesses to – these abuses to come forward and file complaints so that justice will be served.”
In the survey conducted last Dec. 13 to 16, 76 percent of the 1,200 respondents believed there were “many” violation of human rights in the drug war. Around 24 percent claimed there were “few” human rights abuses.
Panelo said the same survey showed 73 percent of the respondents believed the number of illegal drug users has decreased under Duterte’s term.
“This is what matters most – a genuine and meaningful change. This is the reason why President Duterte continues to enjoy massive approval and trust from the Filipinos,” he said.
Despite the survey results, Panelo maintained that the popularity ratings were the farthest thing from the president’s mind. “The President is unconcerned about the popularity of his policies. He remains obedient to the constitutional command to him of serving and protecting the Filipino people regardless of the consequences to his life, honor and liberty.”