A CONSIDERABLE percentage of Filipinos believe that drug suspects were still killed despite surrendering to police, results from the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed.

The same survey also showed, however, that only 17% of respondents knew of anyone who had been summoned by the police but are not known to be drug pushers, as opposed to 83% who did not know anyone in the illegal trade.

Meanwhile, Malacañang on Friday issued its most emphatic statement yet on the phenomenon of extrajudicial killings (EJKs), emphasizing there is “no culture of impunity in the Philippines,” and that President Rodrigo R. Duterte “is also appalled by misdemeanors of police scalawags.”

SWS earlier this week released the results of its June 23-26 poll, showing half of respondents doubting police claim of resistance (“nanlaban”) by suspects, particularly respondents among the poor, many of whom have been targeted in the government’s drug war.

The latest results by SWS in its survey, also conducted June 23-26, showed 63% of respondents believe that drug suspects were still killed even after surrendering to police, with 75% in Metro Manila in agreement, followed by 63% in Mindanao, 62% in Balance Luzon, and 53% in the Visayas.

On the other hand, 20% nationwide disagreed with that view and 17% were undecided. The results in terms of geographical areas were close to those figures.

Yet when asked if respondents knew “anyone who had been summoned by the police for ‘Oplan Tokhang’ but are not really drug pushers,” only 17% said they did and 83% did “not know anyone.”

“The highest proportion of those who know someone who had been summoned for Oplan Tokhang despite not being a drug pusher was in Metro Manila at 22%, followed by Visayas at 18%, Balance Luzon at 16%, and Mindanao also at 16%,” SWS said in its report.

For his part, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto C. Abella on Friday issued a statement saying “we need to clarify again that extrajudicial killings, or EJKs, are not State-sanctioned. There are no State-sponsored killings in the Philippines.”

Mr. Abella’s latest remarks are on the heels of renewed international focus on the country’s drug war, public feedback going by the SWS surveys this week, and a resolution by Mr. Duterte’s own allies in the Senate condemning EJKs.

On Thursday, a joint statement issued by Iceland, on behalf of member-states of the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum-Asia) was the latest in the global community to flag anew the EJK phenomenon in the Philippines and its war on drugs on Mr. Duterte’s watch.

Mr. Abella in response said “it is unfortunate that the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum-Asia), in their desire to join the discussions on the matter, would rather look at the glass half-empty rather than half-full.”

“Unfortunately, it still appears that some parties refuse to understand certain aspects of our human rights efforts,” he also said.

Mr. Abella added in the wake of the Senate resolution, “We thus welcome the Senate investigations and inquiries on erring police personnel as a manifestation of a freely functioning and democratic State mechanism.”

With regards to “misfits” in the Philippine National Police (PNP), Mr. Abella said, “These erring persons in uniform do not have a place in a State organization which is a human rights duty-bearer, with a primary role to protect the right to life, liberty, and property of the people by way of an effective anti-illegal drug campaign.”

He also noted, “The same police operations, heavily criticized by some quarters, saw the voluntary surrender of 1,308,078 drug users, the arrest of 107,156 drug personalities, the rescue of 578 minors, and the seizure of 2,465.65 kilos of shabu worth P12.7 billion, as of August 29, 2017.” – with Rosemarie A. Zamora