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Drug war not anti-poor as survey showed — Palace

“Again, it’s an ugly truth na ganun nga (that that’s what it is). However, this is exactly why the President is allowing a full investigation so that those who can defend themselves less have more in terms of the backing of law,” said presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella in a chance interview. Presidential Photo/King Rodriguez, File

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang has described as “unfortunate” the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey that suggests three of every five Filipinos, or 60 percent, believe only the poor are killed in the Duterte administration’s crackdown on illegal drugs. 

“Again, it’s an ugly truth na ganun nga (that that’s what it is). However, this is exactly why the President is allowing a full investigation so that those who can defend themselves less have more in terms of the backing of law,” said presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella in a chance interview. 

Abella added that President Duterte is already addressing the concerns raised against his anti-drug campaign that has also been described by critics as “selective.”

But Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa agreed with the SWS poll, saying this is a logical conclusion because most of those peddling drugs on the streets are poor.

“You have to understand the structure of the drug pyramid. The rich, the drug lords, are the ones on top. The lowest are the street pushers, mostly poor,” he told reporters.

But while the poor are the usual targets of police sting operations, he insisted that the PNP is not solely focused on street level pushers.

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He said the police also targeted those in the upper part of the pyramid, including suspected drug lords like Ozamiz City mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr. and Albuera town mayor Rolando Espinosa, who both died in police operations.

The nationwide SWS poll, conducted from June 23 to 26, suggested that three of five or 60 percent of Filipinos believe that only the poor are killed in the government’s war on narcotics. About 33 percent disagreed with the view while 17 percent were undecided. 

Because of the way it confronted the drug menace, the Duterte administration is being criticized here and abroad after government records show that this has resulted in the deaths of 3,906 suspected pushers and users since last year.

The campaign also showed a total of 113,932 persons arrested in the 76,863 law enforcement operations also since last year.

Abella stressed that the issue is being addressed.

“This is exactly why policemen are being retrained, that’s exactly why they are relieved of position,” he said in apparent reference to the relief of more than 1,000 members of the Caloocan city police tagged in the killing of teenagers Kian delos Santos and Carl Arnaiz.

“Let us not be myopic. Let us not focus on small issues,” he added.

‘Ingrates’

Meanwhile, Dela Rosa yesterday called critics of the government’s war on drugs as “ingrates.”

He lamented that the critics are actually benefiting from the peace and order that the campaign brings, pointing out that their children are now able to walk safely on streets and go to schools without fear.

“You can criticize us to high heavens but I can look you straight in the eye, to the critics, you are ingrates. I know you are benefiting in the war on drugs but let’s be frank, you are ingrates,” said Dela Rosa.

The police chief, who refused to name anyone in particular, added that the efforts to eradicate drugs has resulted in less crime in the country.

While he stressed that they accept criticisms, these need to be based on facts.

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