Survey shows 9 in 10 Filipinos want drug suspects caught alive, PNP agrees

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines. October 6) — Drug suspects must be captured alive. 

That's the sentiment of nine in 10 Filipinos, according to a non-commissioned nationwide survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS).

The survey asked 1,200 respondents: "Sa pagtupad ng kapulisan ng kanilang tungkulin sa kampanya laban sa ilegal na droga, gaano ka-importante na mahuli nila nang buhay ang mga taong pinaghihinalaang kasabwat sa ilegal na droga?"

[Translation: "As the police perform their duties in the fight against illegal drugs, how important is it for them to arrest the suspects alive?"]

Sixty-eight percent said it is "very important," while 22 percent said it is "somewhat important," for a total of 90 percent urging policemen to spare the lives of drug suspects.

Only 10 percent said otherwise.

The call to preserve the lives of drug suspects is the same across all areas, 95 percent in Metro Manila, 90 percent both in the Visayas and Luzon, and 86 percent in Mindanao.

The poll was conducted from June 23 to 26, with a margin of error of ±3 percent. The results were released Thursday.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) in a statement on Friday said it is "one with the Filipino people who wants drug suspects be captured alive."

It said authorities have conducted over 71,000 anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016 to September 30 of this year. Over 109,000 suspects were arrested alive, now facing drug charges in courts.

"The drug suspects who surrendered and arrested alive comprise the approximate 99.98 percent results of the PNP campaign against illegal drugs," the PNP said.

More than 1.2 million have surrendered under the police's "Oplan Tokhang," it added.

The police relaunched a "less bloody" anti-illegal drugs campaign on March 6, after over 2,500 drug suspects were killed during the first wave of its "Oplan Tokhang" in 2016.

To date, government said over 3,800 suspects have been killed in police operations since July 2016.

"Tokhang" is a composite of two Visayan words, "toktok," which means to knock, and "hangyo," or to plead. Teams led by police and local officials go from house to house in an area, knocking on doors of suspects and pleading with them to end their drug use or turn themselves in.

Related: SWS: Many Filipinos believe those killed in drug war didn't fight back

Fears abound amid EJKs

The survey also shows 73 percent of respondents are worried they or someone they know may be a victim of extrajudicial killings.

Local and international human rights groups claim thousands have died as a result of the drug war's alleged extrajudicial killings, which the government has denied.

Related: Cayetano: PH open to independent drug war probe

Meanwhile, 63 percent of the latest survey's respondents said the Duterte government is serious in addressing extrajudicial killings.

The government, however, recently rejected 154 of 257 recommendations by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) aimed at improving the country's human rights situation. Some of these recommendations pertained to investigating alleged extrajudicial killings.

Read more: PH rejects over half of human rights recommendations of UN

Senator Leila de Lima, a staunch critic of the Duterte administration who is detained over drug charges, has filed a bill seeking to end alleged extrajudicial killings.

Senate Bill 1197 defines extrajudicial killing as "the unlawful, and deliberate killing of targeted individuals or groups thereof, carried out by agents of the State and under its order or acquiescence in lieu of arrest, investigation and prosecution."

"Extrajudicial killing includes summary killing perpetrated by private individuals for purposes of carrying out on their own or in the context of vigilantism, a campaign or policy of the State," it further states.

Critics have said Duterte in his public pronouncements ordered or instigated policemen to kill drug users, even offering cops promotion or pardon in case they are convicted in the performance of their duties.

Malacañang has repeatedly said there are no state-sponsored killings and that it will investigate authorities who violate and abuse their power.

CNN Philippines' Lara Tan contributed to this report.