PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. Duterte remains well-liked by a large majority of Filipinos despite a brutal drug war that has killed thousands and been widely condemned overseas, a Pew Research Center survey has found.

The Pew Research Center results were published as around 22,000 people joined peaceful rallies in and around the Philippine capital Manila and Quezon City to mark the 45th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law former dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Mr. Duterte’s pursuit of a more independent foreign policy has also dented longstanding support for the U.S. among Filipinos, while the number of people with a positive view of China rose slightly.

“As of this spring, 78% in the Philippines, have a positive view of the U.S., down from 92% who expressed positive sentiment in 2015,” said Pew researchers Jacob Poushter and Caldwell Bishop in a report published on Thursday. Those with a positive view of China climbed one point to 55%.

Since taking office in June 2016, Mr. Duterte has waged a deadly war on illegal drugs that has been condemned by the United Nations, the European Union and human rights advocates. Duterte administration officials place total deaths at 3,451 in the 13 months through July 26, but Human Rights Watch earlier this year estimated that more 7,000 people had been killed, including at least three mayors.

Yet according to the Pew Research Center’s face-to-face interviews with 1,000 adults, conducted from February to May, 86% of people hold a favorable view of Mr. Duterte himself, while 78% support his handling of the illegal-drugs issue and 62% believe the Philippine government is making progress with its campaign against drugs.

The survey also found that 78% of Filipinos believe the current economic situation is good, while 57% said they were satisfied with the direction of the country – “a 21-percentage-point increase from 2014, the last time this question was asked the Philippines,” the report’s authors said.

Filipino confidence in U.S. President Donald Trump is lower than trust in then-President Barack Obama was in 2015, with 69% of those surveyed trusting in Trump “to do the right thing in world affairs, compared with 94 percent who expressed such confidence in Obama in 2015.”

Three-quarters of people said that having U.S. military personnel based in the Philippines was a good thing for the country, while 68 percent said they assumed the U.S. would use military force to defend their country from China. — Bloomberg